What Is This Trampoline Performance Art Piece And Why Is It So Mesmerizing?

- Nov 01, 2017-

A recent art installation from French dancer Yoann Bourgeois has been leaving spectators and social media users completely in awe. 

The installation, located in Paris’s Panthéon, consists of a rotating set of stairs that acrobats continuously walk up and fall off, bouncing from a trampoline located in the centre of the stairs and catapulting back up onto the stairs from which they’ve fallen. It operates on a seemingly never-ending loop, so that no single acrobat is ever meant to reach the top, or sink to the bottom. 

Bourgeois’s installation is called “The Mechanics of History,” or, in French, “La Mecanique de l’Histoire.”

France’s Centre of National Monuments says Bourgeois’s project represents the complexity of movement. But there are a number of other interpretations that could easily be perceived while getting lost staring at the rotating fleet of stairs.

Every bounce an acrobat takes off the trampoline is light and smooth, almost fluid. They know exactly where to land for the fullest aesthetic appeal. And when their feet touch the stairs again, it looks like their motions are in reverse. Watching it is like looking into an alternate universe, where time operates at a more nuanced level.

As such, it could be meant as a way to perceive history, as the title alludes to, in that history always repeats itself. No matter how long the acrobats glide through time, they always end up back in the same place. It could also be that it’s representative of a typical human’s life. We are constantly in motion, trying to obtain all and reach the top of the stairs. Along this path to succeeding in life, there are constant roadblocks, represented by the repeated falling. 

All of these potential interpretations is what makes “The Mechanics of History” so beautiful and mesmerizing. There are different meanings that anyone can take away from it. And of course, it’s easy to get completely consumed and lost by simply looking at it.