Zangezi is a Russian Cubo-Futurist poem/play written by the poet Velimir Khlebnikov 101 years ago in 1922. The story revolves around Zangezi, a prophet who speaks in the language ZAUM, a Russian word that is translated as “beyondsense.” Zangezi speaks with and can understand the birds, the gods, the stars and speaks in those languages as well as in poetic and also what K. called “ordinary” language. The Immersive Arts Space is working on this text because as a futurist work, Zangezi deals with is a fundamental human question which is increasingly becoming a problem for machines – what is the basis of language? Is language only about meaning based on syntax? Is it about predictable sequences? Rules and probabilities? Or is there something else going on that is universal and cosmic about language not as words and their meanings but as an act of sound?
Indeed, Khlebnikov, who had a mystical belief in the power of words, thought that the connections between sounds and meaning were lost during mankind’s history, and it was up to those in the future to rediscover them. 101 years later we ask how we might be able to approach Zangezi’s operations on multiple levels – cosmological, political, historical, technological – in a moment where we are increasingly surrounded by machines that produce something that appears like human language but in which there is no speaker, no body and no sound.

The Immersive Arts Space recreated fragments of the play as a work in progress for the REFRESH#5 festival, that took the form of a theatrically staged reading within the technical machine of the Immersive Arts Space itself.

Chris Salter (Direction, Sound Design, Performance)
Corinne Soland (performer)
Stella Speziali (Development Meta Human)
Valentin Huber (Visual Design/Unreal Engine)
Norbert Kottmann (Visual Design/Unreal Engine)
Martin Fröhlich (Show control)
Eric Larrieux (Sound Design)
Sébastien Schiesser (Light Design)
Ania Nova (Russian voice over)