‘The fingers on the face reside on the face’: A short dramatic performance

This week, one conversation partner put a copy of Bruce Mau’s “An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth” into my hands. The “Manifesto” contains 43 design statements. My eyes came to rest on no. 39:

Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces–what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference–the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals–but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.


The two, having never met before, know nothing of each other. They walk around on stage.

One licks, the other yips.

“And, Mr. Stevens, how are you today?”

“Yes, I quite agree with you: at night, the buildings do look remarkably like jack-o-lanterns.”

“O my word, look! It’s the bluest maize!”

Again one yips, the other licks. Then, the yipping one licks the licking one and the licking one grins. The licking grinning one makes the yipping licking one grin also. This one’s grin covers the entire face.

One touches the other’s shoulder. The shoulder twitches, then it tenses. The fingers of the hand on the shoulder flutter, flutelike, but stay on the shoulder. The muscles of the shoulder relax.

The fingers of the one, for many beats on the shoulder of the other, have been re-assigned to the face of the other. The fingers on the face reside on the face. Unlike the shoulder that first twitched, then tensed, the face neither twitches nor tenses. The face faces the fingers.

The fingers are now covering the face and the eyes have closed. The eyes of both have closed. The fingers are slowly brought along the face, as if there were finger replacing fingers, hands replacing hands such that the face were always covered, never uncovered, but movement never ceased.

The face receives.

“Dearest lover, how you?”

“Am… now.”