The transformation of the human body, its metamorphosis, is made possible by the costume, the disguise. Costume and mask emphasize the body’s identity or they change it; they express its nature or they are purposely misleading about it; they stress its conformity to organic or mechanical laws or they invalidate this conformity.
The native costume, as produced by the conventions of religion, state, and society, is different from the theatrical stage costume. Yet the two are generally confused. Great as has been the variety of native costumes developed during the course of human history, the number of genuine stage costumes has stayed very small. They are the few standardized costumes of the commedia delle arte: Harlequin, Pierrot, Columbine, etc.; and they have remained basic and authentic to this day.
The following can be considered fundamentally decisive in the transformation of the human body in terms of this stage costume:
- The laws of the surrounding cubical space. Here the cubical forms are transferred to the human shape: head, torso, arms, legs are transformed into spatial-cubical constructions.
Result: ambulant architecture.
- The functional laws of the human body in their relationship to space. These laws bring about a typification of the bodily forms: the egg shape of the head, the vase shape of the torso, the club shape of the arms and legs, the ball shape of the joints.
Result: the marionette.
- The laws of motion of the human body in space. Here we have the various aspects of rotation, direction, and intersection of space: the spinning top, snail, spiral, disk.
Result: a technical organism.
- The metaphysical forms of expression symbolizing various members of the human body: the star shape of the spread hand, the x sign of the folded arms, the cross shape of the backbone and shoulders; the double head, multiple limbs, division and suppression of forms.