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Berlin Introduces “Literary Surveillance Cameras”

By Siobhan O’Leary

Commuters at a certain subway station in Berlin might be feeling a bit paranoid this week thanks to a project dreamt up by Argentinian artist Mariano Pensotti. Pensotti arranged four Berlin writers — including Tilman Rammstedt, winner of the Bachmann Prize — at different points on the subway platform at the Hallesches Tor station, armed with their laptops and with four large screens projecting their observations about passers-by. According to the Tagesspiegel, this performance of “literary surveillance cameras” is part of a festival called “Ciudades Paralelas – Parallel Cities”, a co-production of the HAU Berlin and the Schauspielhaus Zurich. The authors describe their subjects, often in completely random and amusing terms (e.g. “The tall man with the brown jacket used to want to be a jockey. Until he found out what that was.”), while casual observers on the platform have a bit of fun guessing who is being described.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted September 23, 2010 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    At first I thought this was creepy, and then I realized I tend to do the exact same thing, except I send my observations out over Twitter. And before you judge, the guy doing the “air keytair” at the coffee shop this morning totally had it coming.

  2. Posted October 11, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if science has identified a unit of time short enough to measure how quickly you would be beaten to a pulp if you tried this in most American cities.

    “The tall man in the brown jacket who wanted to be a jockey is coming at me with a baseball ba–ARRGH!”

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