Uncanny Valley (in English)
By Stefan Kaegi 

The JKU & Circus of Knowledge @ the 2023 Ars Electronica Festival

Kopf mit Platinen
© Gabriela Neeb

We are most familiar with robots as work machines, as efficient and precise task executors. Robots used in German manufacturing and production, barely look human, thereby minimizing emotional complications. Humanoid robots have been under development in Asia for some time now, used to, for example, care for the elderly or serve as a sex partner. The outward resemblance to humans is intended to facilitate accepting the machine. However, if the machine is too much like a human, a sense of mistrust sets in: what is human, what is machine? Japanese robotics researchers refer to this weird similarity as the “uncanny valley”.

As part of Stefan Kaegi’s debut play, he works together with a writer and playwright. Thomas Melle permitted the creation of an animatronic double of himself. When this humanoid takes the author’s place, it raises questions such as, how does the original individual feel when the copy takes over? Is the electronic double an opportunity for the original individual to get to know himself better? Does the copy compete with the original individual or do they help each other?

Concept, Text & Direction: Stefan Kaegi
Text / Body / Voice: Thomas Melle
Equipment: Evi Bauer
Animatronics: Chiscreatures Filmeffects GmbH
Manufacturing and Art Finish of the silicone head / coloration and hair: Tommy Opatz
(2023) Manufacturing and Art Finishing of the silicone head and coloring: Ina Chochol
Hair punching: Susanna Lang
Mounting-systems and rework animatronics: Jörg Steegmüller/Steegmüller Skulpturen
Dramaturgy: Martin Valdés-Staube
Video Design: Mikko Gaestel
Music: Nicolas Neecke
Production management Rimini Protokoll / Touring: Monica Ferrari
Light Design / Touring: Robert Läßig
Sound and Video Design / Touring: Jaromir Zezula

This play by Rimini Protokoll was originally produced by the Münchner Kammerspiele, in co-production with Berliner Festspiele - Immersion, donaufestival (Krems), Feodor Elutine (Moscow), FOG Triennale Milano Performing Arts (Milano), Temporada Alta - Festival de Tador de Catalunya (Girona), SPRING Utrecht.

Performing rights: Rowohlt Theater Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg

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