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by Cristina Grazioli

These constellations are born under a darkened sky.
A Japanese ambassador stationed in Geneva in 1935 wrote to Justin Godart, pointing out an artist from his country as a sculptor of puppet heads
"Le ciel politique est bien chargé en ce moment: j'espère vivement qu'une éclaircie se produira bientôt ..."
We talk about them, over which armed leaden skies hang, even when we don't mention them.
March 21
We enter the constellation of Aries
Richard Teschner, highly refined creator of visions and animator of figures, had inscribed the signs of the 12 zodiac signs around the circular 'proscenium' covered by a concave glass of his Figurenspiegel - a porthole from which to let the magic of the spectacles flow. The sign that dominated the magical circle at the top was Aries, corresponding in various esoteric cultures to the idea of beginning, initiation, beginning.

The fairytale and ghostly creatures of his creations were made with mathematical precision and at the same time gave themselves to vision as fluid as liquids. A pond of water could reflect a figure, evoking Narcissus, the highly refined lights could exploit chemical reaction processes - perhaps also thanks to forms that contained water. The body of water offers the double of the puppet its double, the water amplifies its reverbs.
Water Air Earth Fire.
Light is inseparable from any manifestation and metamorphosis of the primary elements.
The alliance between water and light in the show is ancient. To stay with modernity and to cite very few examples, a naumachia in Düsseldorf in 1585, set up in a festive cycle on the Rhine ( Jülische Hochzeit ), on magnificent rafts where 'figures' stage allegories of the myth embodied by the stars of the time - the rulers; result of an avant-garde scenography, capable of giving dramaturgical form to pyrotechnics in its interaction with water.

Ponds of water in the baroque court gardens could become part of the scenography.
The creatures of the Villa di Pratolino (derivation of ancient automata, chirping devices, fountains 'water jokes' and other theaters powered by water power) were marvelous machines. Animation - manipulation of natural forms transformed into artifice - created astonishing figures, marvelous theaters in the garden space.
Even the first device known to produce colored light effects, the lamp designed by Leonardo, uses skilfully colored or filtered water ...
Let's scroll through the many magnificent animated, figural, figurative examples floating in the WATER of this number ONE.

But I also think of the pouring water on stage in Writing to Vermeer by Peter Greenaway, which alluding to the opening of the dams at the time of the Dutch painter drag skeletons of figures (metal structures that previously bore the 'characters').
Or at Ostermeier's Otello where the actors act with soaking feet and part of their legs.  
To stay with the figures, looking at recent times, we recall the scene aquariums of Marina by the Brazilians Pe Quod. Or the puppet dancing inside the glass of water in Frank Soehnle's Hôtel de Rive - dedicated to Giacometti.

The animated figures in the water of Basil Twist in Symphonie Phantastique .
And the sirens? The gaze runs to a Siren of the Puppet Theater in Cuticchio, but also to a mural - a figure that comes alive with the movement of those who pass in front of us, seen these days along a canal ...
To imagine figures, the magnificent Solaris staged by Andrea De Rosa (adaptation of the play by David Greig in turn derived from Lem's novel): the ocean that 'embodies' ('in water' ...) the planet is itself figure; the creatures it generates are figural ghosts; his language is light (translated in this case scenically by Pasquale Mari).
What do you look for in the seabed, in rivers, in the real or imagined ocean, in creatures between fish and humans…?
A material that substantiates us, something that is related to us and yet does not homologate us to the rest of creation, like the puppet doubles the human, always leaving a gap, now imperceptible and disturbing, now evident and perhaps even reassuring in its otherness ...
Brunella Eruli spoke of the puppeteer as a liquid actor (with debt and treason declared towards Zygmunt Bauman).
The constellations that we would like not so much to draw but to let glimpse through small signals, in their small lights reflect earthly drawings, keep their feet on the ground or stretch their feet towards the earth.

And they call the gardens.
In the Botanical Garden of Padua, Gianandrea Gazzola creates Per silentia : inaudible sound vibrations become visible thanks to the movement imparted to the water by a device that 'expresses' a musical score written in water and light.  
But they also call the forests.
In The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro the amphibious creature that is subjected to scientific experimentation at the risk of life was captured in an Amazon rainforest where it was venerated by the natives ... It brings to mind a show by Alvaro Apocalypse (Giramundo, BR) which stages the myths of water linked to the Cobra Norato (Pajé - the Shaman - is now exhibited at the People and Puppets exhibition in the convent of San Francesco in Pordenone).
ANIMATAzine is a message in the bottle: it sails following the water currents, not by chance, since the currents are always connected to other atmospheric events, the tides to the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon.

The animated sheet arrives on other shores, it is collected like the many objets trouvès that become characters in many figure theaters.

by Cristina Grazioli


Unlike water, air, and fire, the term "earth" immediately presents us with its ambiguity, its dual meaning.
Within the family of elements, it serves as an obvious reference to the substance 'earth.' However, its most immediate connotation, as highlighted in the editorial of this second ANIMATAzine, is that of our planet. These two meanings are intricately linked, with its etymology likely stemming from Tersa (and the Indo-European root tars- meaning to be dry or to dry up), signifying dry matter in contrast to aqueous matter.
Let's pause here, in a state of dynamic equilibrium, to consider the primary meaning of earth matter. As any gardener would attest, it's a broad term encompassing a myriad of varieties: from sandy to clayey, loamy to ferruginous, calcareous, and beyond.

On a figurative level, as I delve into these earthly themes, I'm reminded of the poetic imagery found in a puppeteer's manual, such as that of Patrizio Dall'Argine. It opens with the evocative image of the puppeteer-tree, firmly rooted in the ground yet reaching skyward, releasing its creations from the constraints of gravity.
Earth and sky—an inevitable motif—each calling to the other in a symbiotic dance (a dynamic not as pronounced with the other elements).

Earth matter maintains profound connections—mythical, literary, and symbolic—with figures. One could argue that it underpins origin myths. In a captivating collaborative project guided by the deft hand of Lise Guiot (alongside Emmanuelle Castang) for MANIP, we grappled with the Myth of the puppet.Foremost among these is the creation myth, an association so apparent that it borders on risky. Upon closer examination, the creation myth appears intertwined with the essence of puppetry itself (as explored in the sections of MANIP, spanning issues from 66 to 72).

In Western culture, this myth aligns with the biblical passages of Genesis, specifically those recounting the creation of Man over the six days. However, these passages are not in seamless harmony; they are juxtaposed by Philo of Alexandria, influenced by the Platonic tradition, in what is known as the motif of the Double Creation. The first passage (Genesis, I, 26) describes the creation of man "in the image and likeness" of God.
Conversely, the second passage (Genesis, II, 7) complicates this ideal purity by introducing a material and earthy mixture (cf. U. Artioli, Pirandello allegorico. I fantasmi dell'immaginario cristiano, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2001, p. 59). Philo discerns in the first passage "the genesis of the pneumatic man, pure nous, incorporeal, and immortal essence," while in the second passage, he identifies "the man of flesh, exposed to corruption and death," a creation comprised of both pneuma and mud. This perspective devalues the creation, presenting a luminously complex and contradictory portrayal of human nature.

On the day when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth, and there was no one to work the ground; but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis, II)

Thus, the earth, composed of dust from the ground, embodies the concept of 'genesis,' yet it also contains circularity within itself—similar to the seed that returns to the earth, so does humanity return 'composed.' I've long held the belief that coffins are a superfluous contrivance, hindering the return of bodies to their natural state, a sentiment not shared with animals. Those who have experienced rural life understand the sanctity of a garden corner where a beloved pet or bird has been laid to rest.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth." And it was so: the earth produced vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis, 1,11)

In the fertile earth, where sprouts emerge, let's revisit the realm of Figures.
In a captivating image crafted by Alessandra Amicarelli, the animated figure appears to spring forth from a handful of earth, delicately gathered by hand—an emblem of the animated arts.
This image seems to encapsulate the myth of the birth and resurrection of the botanical world, as well as the creation of humanity—man and woman—from mud, animated by breath and accompanied by hands.

The breath, or pneuma, a kin to wind and light, forms an intrinsic connection between earth and sky—indicating a journey towards the Air, leading inevitably to the "pneumatic" themes of the forthcoming Animatazine issue.

I have yet to explore creation myths in a comparative manner, but it strikes me as intriguing, particularly given their apparent absence of recurrence. It appears that, for the Sumerians, humanity was fashioned to cultivate the earth, with creation itself echoing the sprouting of life: Enlil tills the soil and sows the seeds of humanity, which burgeon like grass from the earth.

The creation myths surrounding Figures are intricately interwoven with these diverse narratives. Scientists, magicians, illusionists, genetic engineers—and indeed, creators of animated figures—embrace or inherit the mantle of the first Creator.
The enduring myths of puppets, from Frankenstein to Pinocchio, resonate deeply within our culture. Among the most venerable is the Golem, inspiring Iwan Goll's little-known satire Methusalem, where the Golem transforms into an Automaton.
Kabbalistic tradition traces the Golem back to representations linked to Adam's creation—either as a precursor or as Adam in an unformed state, untouched by divine breath.

Mud is that particular earth whose semantic resonance takes on negative, low, humble traits (humus, earth) all that world to which Franco Scaldati restores joy, kneading it with light. But also often populating it with puppets, figures, objects. The theatrical text Pupa Regina. Works of mud gives voice to 'figures' kneaded with mud and light.
Consider, too, the transformation of Mud into Light in Landscape with a Broken Brother by Teatro Valdoca, where Mariangela Gualtieri's words take shape on bodies cloaked in white dust.

But returning to the earth, let's reflect on the myth of the Puppet—a tale with myriad interpretations.
Kleist's Essay on the Marionette Theater introduces us to the angelic, airy puppet, escaping the constraints of earthly gravity, rendering the Author's perfect reasoning possible.

In this edition, Zahra Sabri's Count to One explores the transformative power of clay, capturing the moment of creation. Zahra evokes verses from the Iranian poet Omar Khayyām:

There is a Cup, that the Mind cries perfectand a hundred kisses of love give it on the forehead.
And this Potter of Time, such a gentle cupHe shapes it and then, cruelly, breaks it to the ground again.

Another creation myth is evoked—that of Butade, the potter from Pliny's tale, credited with the inception of portraiture. Of note is the beloved's double emerging from the clay, traced by the potter's daughter's shadow. An absent figure, animated by shadow and embodied in clay.

Alice Laloy's 2004 creation, D'états de femmes, narrates the genesis within the maternal belly—a space of creation, workshop, and landscape—hosting the passage of the female body, molded by the hands of performers. This process harmonizes with real-time composed music, set against a backdrop of chrysalis-like bulbs.

Brazil's project titled TERRA, awarded the Golden Lion for best national participation in the recent Architecture Biennale, embodies a multifaceted vision: "Terra as soil, ground, field, territory, courtyard—but also in its global and cosmic sense, as the planet and common home of all life, human and non-human.

Following, on planet Earth...

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