The Automated Sniper


Winner of the VSCD Mime Award 2017

In “The Automated Sniper” Julian Hetzel looks into the paradox of warfare and distance on the example of drones. The ever-increasing engagement distance of combat reveals itself as the primary goal in the history of weapon development. It has been a long journey towards the same direction: from fistfights to the use of devices that extend the actual space between the combatants; from knifes to swords to lances to bows to guns to bombs to planes to rockets to drones.  Battle Drones are armed, remote-controlled aircrafts that made the asymmetrical warfare come true. A drone-operator sits in front of  a screen in an air-conditioned room on a military airbase far away from his remote controlled weapon and his enemy that he kills with a click on a joystick. Booom! The ethics of warfare have been gradually yet fundamentally redefined. There is no option to strike back anymore since the adversary has been removed from the battlefield. The idea of the coward and the hero is merging into one.

The Automated Sniper” is a performative installation on militainment and warfare that explores the oscillating relation between the virtual and the real. Seeing is the primary tool for sensory engagement in drone operation. The work of the drone operator is both virtual and actual. The image is not immediate or real, but abstract and digital. Yet it unfolds in real-time. Seeing becomes doing. Watching becomes killing. In “The Automated Sniper” the gamification of violence is brought on stage. The performance is a battle and the stage is the battlefield. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

VSCD Mime Prijs – Jury Statement :

“Julian Hetzel interweaves violence, gaming and art into a smart, layered performance that immediately carries the spectator away into an increasingly disturbing interaction. In silent scenes the performers Bas van Rijnsoever and Claudio Ritfeld create artworks consisting of all kinds of objects which are barely held up in a vulnerable balance. In a first instance the performance seem to give a humourous comment on an art practice that takes place in a white and clinical galery, seemingly detached from a violent outside world.

The voice of Ana Wild then draws the audience into a game in which several spectators shoot down the art objects with a paintball installation. After each round Van Rijnsoever and Ritfeld declare the battlefield anew as artworks, as a silent reaction to the intrusive outside world. With their meticulous precise and concentrated attention and care, the three performers know to keep the tension up high.

In The Automated Sniper the Mimejury saw a convincing performance that makes the meaning of war physically tangible and also delivers an extraordinary ode to the (survival)power and the necessity of art.”



Wash the pain away!

»Schuld« is a German term that implements two different yet related meanings: »guilt« as a moral duty and »debt« as an economical obligation. Schuldfabrik explores the conflict between these notions and their potential valorisation. Schuldfabrik proposes contemporary forms of indulgence trade. In collaboration with plastic surgeons and their clients, Julian Hetzel created a soap from human fat that is sourced from liposuctions. “Self – Human Soap” is made from people for people.

Schuldfabrik is a multi-room parkour; a soap shop, a beauty clinic, a confessionary and a sustainable system of up-cycling guilt. The installation has several entrances yet no way out. In Schuldfabrik the collective obligation to remember is put into dialogue with the individual right to forget.

“Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleansing powder, the stain of your guilt is still before me”.

* * * * *   Volkskrant
* * * *   Theaterkrant



Pentatones is a music collective from Berlin, Amsterdam and Leipzig. The Band emerged from the fertile grounds tilled by the artistic scene around Jena-based label Freude am Tanzen and Weimar’s Bauhaus University.


New mini album: “What if” out now!


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Sculpting Fear

Here we are. We crossed the end. There is an app for everything, for the weather forecast, for the next date, for controlling the pulse, for the way home, for counting the steps. Nobody needs to get lost anymore. Nobody needs to get wet. Nobody needs to be alone. Nobody needs to know. Everything is under control. All data – big or small – are in the cloud. Everything is transparent yet nothing can be seen.

Sculpting Fear consists of two related yet separate parts: a performance (for the stage) and a public intervention (for the streets of a city). Both are complementary elements that tackle different aspects of the matter.


We live in a time of scenarios and simulations. In an increasingly complex world we are asking for transparency, for clarification and simplicity. We are afraid of what we don’t know, of what we don’t see. We look away from what is in front of our very eyes since we are facing the black mirror of the screen. It is the fear of the unknown, of the stranger, of the Other, of the future that makes us shiver. In this project Julian Hetzel highlights the dark side of the human condition while his performers explore the physicality of fear.

Sculpting Fear is a highly visual piece that uses ephemeral structures in order to give shape to the formless. A starting point for the performance is the omnipresent but invisible data cloud. The concept of the cloud links aspects from religion, technology and nature. Hetzel generates storms and works with weather conditions towards primal fear in a vaporized scenography. Sculpting fear takes the spectator where all colors agree – in the dark.


In the public interventions Hetzel creates a rupture in the accelerated flow of the city life. Please take a look at the interventions page.