Spy-on-Me Festival in Berlin – playing with reality

We have long since gotten used to it: our world is populated by chatbots, smartphones, memes and search engines, by Instagram, Spotify and artificial intelligence. All of this simplifies our life, but it also changes it drastically and carries entirely new risks.

The Berlin Theater Hebbel (HAU) am Ufer dedicates its performance festival to the phenomenon: “Spy on me”. It is already the fourth edition and, after several purely digital years, it can finally be relived on site. –

“Where is the potential of this technology?”

Sarah Reimann, curator of HAU, has been working intensively on the subject for years. However, the feeling of unease about the ubiquity of the technology that accompanies us has tended to diminish. “Spy on Me actually started with an emphasis on the negative impacts of this technology,” she says.

“At the time it was all about big data and the full power of companies and how they actually make money with our data. But it has actually evolved from that in recent years, and it’s important for us to see: where does the potential of this technology actually lie? “

A focus is therefore also on the research and penetration of these daily phenomena in the meantime:

What is certainly true is that we want to understand this technology better and why together with the artists and the public we also want to use this technology and shed light on it.

Curator Sarah Reimann

How can augmented reality be used?

Various performance groups invite visitors to interactive chat rooms and virtual worlds, which you can also access from home.

Individual performances address the opportunities and dangers of social networks, for example, or explore them as a group “doubly lucky productions” the possibilities of augmented reality.-

Christiane Kühl is one of them and reports that she is doing extensive research on this technology, which does not take users into a completely virtual world, but rather enriches reality with additional information that can be called up digitally, for example through glasses. “We are trying to see how augmented reality makes sense in theater,” says Christiane Kühl.

Theater and the hybrid world

“This is our world anyway … We are constantly surrounded by it, we use all these things, but we no longer perceive them as other spheres.” You ask yourself: “What can you do with it in a playful way, do you do or explore in the theater when you work in a very pictorial way with these two realities?”

So is this the future of the theater? An audience that retrieves additional information from the Internet during the show? “If the theater wants to create situations that are connected to our daily life, then there will be no way around it,” believes Sarah Reimann.

“This hybrid world – which we can no longer distinguish between analog and digital, which we are constantly on the Internet with our smartphones – I don’t think (the theater) will be able to deny it”.

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