Le Corbusier | Man is measure of all things

“Take the figure of a man, with a raised arm, 2.20 metres total height, and place the figure within the frame of two rectangles, placed one on top of the other, each with a height of 1.10 metres; place a third rectangle within this framework, in such a way that you will attain a positive result. The position of the right angle will help you to find the correct location for the third rectangle.”

“I am convinced that, provided with this working frame, which is regulated by the figure of a man positioned within it, you will attain a series of measurements, which will demonstrate how the human form (with a raised arm) and the science of mathematics can be brought together ….”

Le Corbusier


A project of the Theater der Klänge in cooperation with the working group “Medienbühne NRW” and ICEM / Ex Machina of the Folkwanghochschule Essen
Cast of the world premiere on 6 November 2002 in the auditorium of the Folkwanghochschule Essen

Texts: Le Corbusier, Jörg Lensing, Clemente Fernandez
Musical development: Jörg Lensing, Thomas Neuhaus
Composition and programming: Thomas Neuhaus
Staging: Jörg U. Lensing
Choreographic development and training supervision: Jacqueline Fischer, Kerstin Hörner
Stage props: Udo Lensing
Costumes: Caterina Di Fiore
Lighting design: Christian Schroeder
Light assistance: Thomas Klaus
Video: Christian Ziegler
Artistic management office: Petra Weiß
Poster and program design: Ernst Merheim
Photos: Oliver Eltinger
Video and sound computing: Thomas Neuhaus
Sound direction: Jörg Lensing
Light control: Christian Schroeder / Thomas Klaus
Dance: Ariane Brandt, Carlos Martinez Paz, Florencia Sandoval, Hironori Sugata
Acting: Clemente Fernandez, Jacqueline Fischer

About the Production

“Modul/a/t/o/r – Le Corbusier” was the title for our creation in the year 2002.

The “Modulor” is a measuring tool which is based on the fusion of the human form with mathematics. The human figure with a raised arm creates, at the main junctures of spatial displacement, these being the foot, solar plexus, head and the fingertips of the raised arm, three intervals, which result in a series of golden sections. These are named after Fibonacci. In addition, the science of mathematics offers both the simplest as well the most distinctive possibilities of variation within any given value: the unity, the duality, both the golden sections.

This formal system, based on human proportions, as was demonstrated centuries ago in the work of Vituvius and Leonardo da Vinci, acts as both the formula and the generator for danced modules. These result, in interaction with a camera tracking system, as well as a microphone and a camera, in a multimedia project with the human body as its subject matter.

Since it is not tied by any particular text or dramatic context, this system is able to create a free basis, using both the sound material provided by the body itself (voice, breath, floor noises) as well as visual sequences of the moving body using videosampling. In this way a sequence of single modules for one to four dancers and two actors will be created. These provide sound and image, as well as acting as modulators for their own material, as movement is translated into data.

The whole piece was an extensive scenic collage about the questioned theories by Le Corbusier. The interactive, dancer’s broads scenes went out first from the self-sedate basis:

As long as no one will enter the stage area the stage is dead (no picture. no sound). If a person enters this sensorised scenic space, a visual videoscenery (Szenography) and sound originates from the presence of a moving person within that stage-space.

After the performance series we filmed four theatrical sequences from “Modul|a|t|o|r” as short films. The interactively, intermedia Dance-Soli were a starting point for the following further development in the research project “PCI-Performer computer interaction” which was follwoed in 2005 by the piece “HOEReographien”.

Modul|a|t|o|r: Press

(…) A battery of monitors, mixing consoles and computers occupies a middle row in the Neue Aula of the Folkwang University, where “Modul/a/t/o/r” was premiered at the opening of the international festival “November Musik/Ex Machina”. The intelligent stage, which functions according to Le Corbusier’s principle: “Man is the measure of all things”, is controlled from this central row. The dancer brings the stage, an instrument equipped with invisible sensors, to life. As soon as Hironori Sugata dances asymmetrical figures, he enters into a dialogue with his surroundings, a sound sounds with every step. An unpleasant sound, as if someone were striking a microphone with his hand. The more intense the movement, the louder, duller the sound. The filigree jumps, the quiet emergence produce tender sounds, similar to the plucking of a guitar string. (…)
Sugata slowly moves one arm forward, creating a sound like an autumn breeze ? Music for the body! (…)
Director Lensing has interposed the architect’s theories in the more entertaining passages of the 90-minute piece. Satirically, Fernandez chases through questionable norms like a number-seeking Woody Allen. The dancer’s bodies form chairs, loungers and other pieces of furniture ? finally with sense and sensuality.
Süddeutsche Zeitung

(…) With a little wink of the eye, we are talking about human proportions, sizes of clothes and honeycombs, seating furniture and furnishings, numbers, speculations and mysticism of geometric forms stuck in the body. For in this dance theatre play lectures are held, measurements are taken, from the little finger to the height of the umbilicus. But it is also danced violently and solidly, powerfully, brutally, with boots on the feet.
And not without reason. Because the stage floor is sensitized by microphones, the air too. In short: When the dancers throw arms and legs full of verve, catapult their bodies into the air by somersault or rotation, throw themselves on top of each other ? and all that with a motionless face ? then it crashes.
Then gongs or other noises sound; then something happens on the screen: Either you see larger-than-life, distorted human proportions, ? or fascinating traces of movement, ? or forms interlaced with each other.
Thomas Neuhaus was responsible for the music in this piece, working with the sound material of the dancers and using it to create rhythms and sound clusters by computer. A theatre worth seeing, cheeky and eager to experiment, but a bit too long. Once again enthusiastic applause.

Neue Rhein Zeitung

(…) Bühnenboden und Bühnenraum sind total verkabelt. Die Geräusche der Tänzer werden per Computer kunstvoll von Thomas Neuhaus in Klangcluster und Rhythmen umgesetzt, die aus allen Ecken dem Zuschauer und -hörer entgegentönen. Lensing, der mit seinem Ensemble zwischen Mittelalter, Bauhaus und der Technik des 21. Jahrhunderts pendelt, ist wieder einmal ein verrückt fantastisches und freches Theaterstück gelungen.
Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung

(…) Dance the math: The “Theater of Sounds” has brought his piece modul | a | t | o | r to the stage in the FFT Juta. The individual dance, play and comedy scenes deal with the aesthetic theory of the visionary Swiss architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965), according to which man is the measure of all things. Sounds good, first. Corbusier developed the “Modulor” measuring system, which is based on the golden ratio and the proportions of the “well-built human body”. Foot, solar plexus, fingertip of the outstretched arm form coordinates. Le Corbusier’s ideal man, however, must be exactly 1.73 meters tall, otherwise it will be uncomfortable on the chairs designed accordingly. But who is exactly proportioned? Who is that big? So the devil is in the detail, that’s what makes the “Theater of Sounds” clear in this premiere, and that’s why the modulor has never prevailed against inches and meters. The theater of sounds now picks up the theory, recycles the noblely luminous core according to which man is the measure of all things, and puts the odd number stuff in the bin. Nothing happens on the barren stage when nobody appears, not even on the video wall. But when man comes and dances, he plays the room like an instrument. Instead of dancing to the music, he dances the music: With great technical effort, the boards have been wired, sensors make every step of the actors to the sound, which is electronically amplified in the auditorium. The movements are sometimes brutal, sometimes tender; they often go in waves from the places designated by Le Corbusier as coordinates. The twitching in the fingertip widens to the athletic dance figure. Some scenes are reminiscent of videos on early pieces by the French electronics pioneers “Daft Punk”, another is geometric experiment, the body as an equation, from which even a piece of furniture is formed, on which one can sit and sit. Spiritually, the performers jump around with the theory, in subtle action scenes, they drive their Jokus with the numbers absurdity. A performer gives the decal version of the well-known from science broadcasts Ranga Yogeshwar, in another scene by turning the number of figures, the assassination of September 11 is extrapolated to the conspiracy of cosmic proportions. All this is very intelligent and humorous, in some places weird, even if some things are repeated towards the end. Little by little, the piece becomes a report of the struggle of the individual against normalization. The dancing body bursts the imposed upon him measure. He becomes unpredictable. The projection on the video wall first reflects the dancing people, then distorts it into an ornament until it can only be guessed as a trail of light. You can not calculate it now. With the end of the last sound cascade also ends the lazy number magic. Man overcomes Modulor. That makes hope.
Rheinische Post

(…) The new production of the Theater of the Sounds “Modulator” deals in an amusing and fascinating way with the “Modulor” measuring system developed by the architect Le Corbusier, which is based on the ideal of the “golden section” and the proportions of the “well built” body. However, this Proportionsschema of “people as a measure of all things” did not prevail, and for good reason, as the two actors and four dancers around director Jörg Lensing demonstrate impressive. (…) In amusing skits Clemente Fernandez illuminates these phenomena of different units of measurement and clothing sizes, shines as a passenger obsessed with numbers or unsuspecting museum visitors who question the qualities of a chair by Le Corbusier. In the meantime, dancers use their bodies to form tables, car seats or dressers and show how many circles, squares or rectangles are in the human body. To do this, they play on the “intelligent stage” equipped with invisible sensors and microphones like on an instrument. Every step and leap creates sounds that are translated into sound clusters and rhythms by breathing and speech by computer. The result is an intermedial composition of dance and sound, complemented by visual effects. Through live video sampling, the movements of the dancers are modulated onto a screen. Sometimes the bodies appear as in a distorting mirror, then you only see blurred traces of movement. The ever-changing bodies give rise to images of peculiar beauty, such as human ornaments or silhouettes. An extraordinary music and dance theater piece, impressively and intelligently staged.
Westdeutsche Zeitung

With “Modulator” the “Theater der Klänge” last Thursday in the Stadttheater succeeded in creating an interesting intersection of music, dance, drama and visual arts. Measurements and numbers served the director Jörg Lensing as components to define human aesthetics. But what is a modulator, a meter, a cubit, an inch, a foot – “my cubit, your cubit”, “my or your half little finger”? And how do you describe an American european shoe size 43? So what is the ideal dimension of man, which always plays a role in everyday life? Height of chair, table and ceiling, bed and sofa length: at what height should a sink, a toilet be mounted – all this demonstrated in a brilliant way by the six-member ensemble. The “Theater of Sounds” with its experimental piece got to the bottom of the questions. However, there can be no answer to this: the uniqueness of each individual makes mathematical units impossible. And yet, the math-ace, refreshingly played by Clemente Fernandez, always finds mysterious correspondences in the world of numbers. “Modulator” is an interesting project that challenges all senses and questions people as the measure of all things.
Kreisbote Landsberg