Luc Steels
Oscar Vilarroya
Steven Brooks (Fausto)
Anja van Engeland
Kamil Ben Hsaïn Lachiri
Alessandro Londei
Kris Stroobants
Frascati Symphonic
La Folia

VUB Homo Roboticus
Drama, music, technology
BBC on Fausto (Sept 2017)

FAUSTO explores a future in which current trends in digital technologies have reached a turning point with a major impact on humanity. The action takes place in a world where artificial intelligence, cloud computing, virtual and augmented reality, neural implants and brain-computer interfaces have progressively lead to a technology for creating life-like digital replicants of humans. This technology gives humans the potential of digital immortality and having multi-track lives in different realities. But what if malicious intelligent software robots overtake this digital sphere?


The libretto of FAUSTO is based on a new interpretation of the Faust myth. Mephisto is a malicious vrtual agent who lives in the cloud and appears in the real world as a devious hip-hop gangster. Fausto appears as a living hipster entrepreneur who is busy with a start-up that will deliver mind-uploading tools. His app utilizes machine learning techniques and digital traces on social media to create virtual agents as replicants of humans. Margherita, Fausto's lover, is an app developer. But Fausto is so obsessed with his start-up dream that he ignores Margherita who subsequently commits suicide and thus gets caught in the network of Mephisto.

Mephisto has realized that he needs to become incarnated in a real human body in order to have 'real' experiences and emotions and progressively change the mind of all humans into copies of his own. So the classical Faust myth is turned around. Mephisto is not trying to get Fausto's soul in exchange for eternal youth and total knowledge (gnosis) but rather Fausto's body in which he can download his own mind. The drama unfolds in a Hamletian fashion. Fausto has a profound dilemma. He hesitates between either staying in the real world as a human being or being uploaded in the virtual reality of the Cloud and get access to all knowlewdge and reunion with Margherita. Will Fausto accept to let his mind be uploaded? Or will Fausto and Margherita manage to fight back the dark powers of Mephisto?

When Fausto finally caves in, Mephisto starts the up- and downloading procedure against protests of Margherita. However Fausto realizes towards the end of the procedure that the Cloud is empty and Margherita is no longer real. Both manage to escape to the meta-level of the virtual world from which they can damage the Cloud's infrastructure. This leads to the demise of all protagonists but humanity is saved from the dreadful plans of Mephisto.