LMU Studiobühne




Digitality and artificial intelligence have fundamentally transformed mass culture, especially the pop world. With post-Internet-art, the fine arts have already spawned a field that addresses this subject. Theatre is the only division that is just now beginning to react artistically to relevant changes in this discipline. What influence will developments in the world of robotics and algorithms have on the performing arts in the future?

On June 14 at 6 pm:

Lecture: ULF OTTO The Affectation of Theatre: when machines act

What happens when robots come on stage and computer scientists start doing theatre to make their machines more believable? Can the result be any different from the “human being” who in the meantime has become quite unbelievable? Maybe from this starting point, the lecture will explore the history of the enlightened automaton and its uncanniness in the romantic period? Possibly it will deal with the yearning of modern theatre for an actor who “never slips into affectation” (Kleist). Or the birth of the robot in a melodrama from the 1920s? Otto’s exact argumentation had not yet been determined at the time of going to press. At the end, in any case, it will be considered whether theatre, in our posthuman times, is not in fact something for robots in the classical sense as a mirror of the social and aesthetic educational institution. The question that then remains and that the lecture neither can nor wants to answer is where we are left with this double freedom that Artificial Intelligence gives us.

Ulf Otto works as Professor of Theater Studies focusing on Intermediality Research am Institute of Theater Studies at LMU Munich. His thesis “Internetauftritte. Eine Theatergeschichte der neuen Medien was published by Transkript. Otto is currently working on his habilitation under the title “Energien des Spektakels. Zur Theatralität der Elektrizität und der Elektrifizierung des Theaters, 1870-1930”.

Afterwards panel with:

Moderation: TOBI MÜLLER

In the midst of an ideological battle that has been raging for years, conservative critics and functionaries stylise the performing arts as the last bastion of a genuinely analogue culture. Is this self-assessment really true? In municipal theatres and production houses, public relations departments have long been working with social networks, accessing the user data of their customers and digital “friends”, and relying on the services of algorithms and influencers to optimise their reach.

Within technical departments such as video and sound, working with intelligent technology is part of everyday life. Sophisticated scenographies would hardly be conceivable today without the use of smart applications. In the auditorium, so much multimedia information is transmitted that it would be naïve to believe that it could not be collected digitally.

The use of applications such as Shazam, which identify music played on stage or in the club and offer it to the user for download, is only the beginning of a comprehensive development. Streaming services such as Netflix have begun to store the physical data and reactions of the audience during shows to increase the effectiveness of cliffhangers and the addictive potential of their products in general.

All this has influence not only on the theatre as a working environment. If the auditorium – the place where a public sphere is created in an exemplary manner – has to be reimagined as a monitored space in which data can circulate and be used, the fundamental process of showing and seeing in the theatre also changes fundamentally.

Even the art of acting, which was believed to be safe from the advances of the digital world, is experiencing a redefinition. As the development of robotics and human-like machines progresses, the question arises more and more urgently: what exactly distinguishes gestures, facial expressions, the expressiveness of language and not least stage directions, these scripts of cultural actions, from the programmed events that we know from intelligent computer technology?

Among the pioneers of a new generation of theatre-makers who reflect in their medium on human subjectivity and the future of the performing arts in the emerging posthuman age are artists such as The Agency, Alexander Giesche, Geumhyung Jeong, Susanne Kennedy, Jisun Kim & Christiane Kühl, Jaha Koo, Turbopascal - and of course Rimini Protokoll. When thinking about the possibilities of digital theatre, technology and dramaturgy have always been two aspects of the same thing that can never be treated separately.

On June 14 at 6 pm / Free entry

Part of the festival “Politik der Algorithmen – Kunst, Leben, Künstliche Intelligenz” from June 11 to 16, 2019

In cooperation with

Z COMMON GROUND, Studiobühne der Theaterwissenschaft München
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Funded by

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Presented by

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