The Automated Sniper


The Automated Sniper

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.

Julian Hetzel

Julian Hetzel works as performance maker, musician and visual artist. He develops works along the intersection of theatre, music and media that have a political dimension and a documentary approach.

His works are produced and presented internationally: SPRING Utrecht (NL), Frascati Amsterdam (NL), Noorderzon Groningen (NL), Spielart-Festival Munich (DE), Festival Theaterformen Hannover (DE), Theater der Welt Mannheim (DE), Steirischer Herbst Graz (AT), Brut Vienna (AT), Vooruit Gent (BE), STUK Leuven (BE), Kaai Theater Brussels (BE), Biennale Bern (CH), National Theatre Riga (LV), Espacios Revelados Buenos Aires (ARG), MMCA Seoul (KR), Malta Festival Poznan (PL), Quadrienale Prague (CZ), Actoral Marseille (FR), Next Festival (FR), SouthEastDance (UK), Saal Biennale Tallin (EST), …

In 2017 Hetzel received the VSCD-Mimeprijs for The Automated Sniper. He is artistic director of Ism & Heit, an Utrecht based foundation realising and producing his artistic work. Since 2018 he is associated artist at Kunstencentrum CAMPO Gent (BE).

Julian Hetzel is Born in the Black Forest (DE), currently based in Utrecht (NL). He studied at Bauhaus University Weimar with a focus on visual communication. He graduated from DasArts; Amsterdam an artistic research laboratory for new forms of theatre and performing arts in 2013. He is founding member of the electro-pop band Pentatones.


Concept & Director: Julian HetzelDramaturgy: Miguel Angel MelgaresMachine Artist: Hannes WaldschützPerformer: Bas van Rijnsoever, Claudio Rietfeld, Giulio d’Anna, Fabian Holle, Ana WildArtistic Advice: Joachim RobbrechtDramaturgy Assistant: Luc Groen, Hanna Woods, Artun Alaska ArasliProduction: Ism & heit in collaboration with Frascati AmsterdamCo-produced by: WEB Network / Gessnerallee Zürich (CH), Beursschouwburg Brussels (BE), Göteborg dans & teater festival (SE), Uzès Festival (FR), wpZimmer Antwerp (BE)