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Like Burnt Norton, 14:50 min

Valerie von Kittlitz

Valerie von Kittlitz (Germany) continues the examination of augmented reality technology at the Berlin Wall memorial, Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Germany. The site commemorates what were often fatal attempts at fleeing the surveillance state of the former East Germany. Visitors to the site move amongst open-air monuments, signs, bits of the original Wall, and scattered visualizations of political dominance, stretched across 1.4 kilometers.

A layer of reality rendered through a privately funded, publicly available (i.e. downloadable) app entitled ‘Time Traveler,’ which enables mobile device users to screen archival footage juxtaposed at the site of its origin. Through GPS, the app detects the position of its user, guiding them to that which the filmmaker would have taken at the moment of the film fragment’s production. Optical tracking of the camera image enables the app to transmit said fragment onto it resulting in a threefold retinal amalgamation of ‘reality’.

Von Kilttlitz’s film ‘Like Burnt Norton’ is a reflection on the screen as a gateway to past, present and future, attempting a visual testimony to stillness, layering, and movement. As the founder of the app explains, motion is essential to augmented reality technology. Those susceptible to advancements in tech futures experience a notion of euphoria toward the elation of personal fantasy, as anonymized test persons reveal in semi-structured interviews at the site.

However, in actively engaging family in this ‘investigation’, aspects of the private and personal are revealed. This attempt at self-reflexivity points to inevitable considerations of the ethics implied in image creation and the alteration of personal relations. In this sense, it is not only a commentary on critical issues of privacy, but information accumulation and dissemination at large. These are concerns central to anthropology, but also to a memorial dedicated to an education on freedom - and last but not least to the majority of augmented reality technologies themselves.