Heiner Goebbels’s music theatre installation Stifters Dinge, a “no-man show” dominated by five automated pianos, provides the starting point for a consideration of the piano and the theatre as machines for the production of social relations. This essay traces the history of the piano as an instrument of bourgeois revolution, in which a historically distinctive relation between people and things is constructed. It builds on autonomist theorizations of “general intellect” and “virtuosity” to suggest that, in addition to thing theory’s restoration of “thingness” to the concept of the commodity, it may also be possible to recuperate from the theatre and the piano’s animation of dead labor a fragmentary experience of the possibility of alternative relations between people and things, people and people.


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pp. 389-408
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