(Compagnie Philippe Genty)


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The Western model of life is based on the production of goods and consequently our life is continuously immersed in a multifaceted landscape of objects, objects for the most disparate uses and for ever new needs that sometimes arise after the invention of the object itself. How can we prevent this landscape governed by functionalism and the demands of mass production from becoming an alien landscape to us?

Is it possible to mirros ourselves in this landscape, make a colorful and vibrant fresco of our life? How can we convince those who design our tools and with them our everyday life not to neglect language, to enclose in each object a tiny seed that is for us a call, a sign of orientation not to lose the way home, and allow us to preserve our cultural identity?

Before becoming grown-ups and get lost in this universe of machines, tools, personal objects, furniture and ornaments, we learn to play with the shapes around us and make them our own by making them talk, and playing with them. Puppeteers and object animators on stage are able to preserve a child spirit to give life and desires to these “things”, to build stories and situations where the “things” are active protagonists. Thanks to them we feel again at ease in this sort of chaos in which every object is born for a purpose, but often without a soul.

However the artists of the “Figure Theater” (a broader definition for puppetry) only know the object superficially. Their vocabulary of forms is very simple and they can not dare to invent their stories. If instead they could learn the art of design, be aware of how shapes are born, what secrets and meanings they conceal, their expressive possibilities would increase dramatically.

Puppets & Design comes from a simple idea: weave the roads of those who design and those who can give a soul to things. His activity plan is focused on training and innovation in the two sectors, but the project objectives could not be achieved without a valid research program in which the most open and creative minds that Puppetry and Design can boast must be involved across Europe.

(Compagnie Philippe Genty)


Methodology and objectives

The phases of the P&D research will consist in: analysis activities, studies, information and findings processing, and proposals for innovation. The phenomena that will be the object of investigation will be those related to production linked both to design and to contemporary theater.

A constant interplay between research teams and the creators of both sectors will develop within the P&D network, which will provide a sufficiently wide and varied environment for data collection. The subject that will guide this work program will be the IED-European Institute of Design, but to ensure the possibility of a thorough investigation in both areas a research committee will be set up, composed of experts from both fields.

It will be essential to try and understand what are the processes that lead on one hand to conceive the product in a certain way and to allocate it to a certain use, on the other to distort its function for theatrical purposes. We will try to identify the needs and the limits of each artistic and production process, to study what impact each product has on its users – observing, for example, the life of an object since it leaves the factory only to end up being acted (or maybe acting…) on stage.

Another theme that will engage researchers will be that of waste reuse, one of the fundamental activities of the artist who uses objects of everyday life as expressive signs. How many ways can we reuse an industrial object for theatrical purposes? Is it possible to extend his life by giving him a place on stage instead of in a landfill? Could we dare to write the Reuser Actor’s Handbook?

Once the objectives of the survey are established, during the major events of the project design and performing arts students from the cooperating countries will be valuable helpers in the collection of data. For 3 years in a row the Czech, Italian and Slovenian sessions of the P&D Festival will be excellent occasions to  perform surveys on the theme of the “Object and Figure Theater”, given the presence of numerous companies operating in the sector. Observation, registration of data related to particular phenomena, surveys of the audience will all be strategies consistent with the research purposes set out above.

The IED, the other associated partners and the organizations of the design world that will join the network will allow researchers to perform similar investigations on the side of industrial production.

The research committee will have its precise role in the training programs foreseen by the project and in the creative residences that will involve both designers and artists in new production projects. In such contexts and in the light of the elements which will emerge from the investigations, we will inquire into the relationship between design and animation to test innovative solutions to the benefit of innovation in both kinds of creative work.



Intellectual and innovation results

Puppets & Design will demonstrate its long-term impact in the two sectors of reference according to the intellectual and innovation results it will be able to produce. The outcomes of the research developed by the partnership and the scientific staff involved will be collected by a publication that will be disseminated to stakeholders across Europe through various channels. It will be the research most direct product, a real Handbook on the “creative method” designed and tested by P&D. A handbook with a double value and addressed to a dual user: for puppeteers and manipulators of objects, a handbook that uses the newest and most imaginative methods to produce puppets through everyday objects; at the same time, it will be a catalog of graphic and photographic studies which will present a possibility of innovation for industrial design  through a path “from shapes to figures”.

The Handbook will be available in two versions, one printed in color and the other in digital format (available both in a DVD that will accompany the book, and as online content loaded in unabridged form on the project platform). More (indirect) products of P&D research activities will be the new productions, intended both as the 3 theatrical co-productions to be worked out between 2020 and 2022 by the Gorizia, Ljubljana and Prague theatrical centers, and as new design objects that will be presented as part of the international traveling exhibition on the occasion of the 2022 edition of the P & D Festival.

The presentation of the research results and related intellectual products will take place on an international scale at the Meeting scheduled for September 2022 in Gorizia, in the presence of all the members of the research committee, of personalities from the world of design and puppetry, artists and designers from cooperating countries and beyond.