Tendaguru Museum

Immersive Theater

Tendaguru Museum

2019, immersive theater, 40 min

Implementation of a virtual place between museum and nature. A second step towards a museum for the people of Tendaguru. A documentary virtual reality experience based on immersion of the place in a computer game.



A scene from the theatre performance in May 2019 in Hamburg, Germany.

"Wenn man in der historischen Debatte der Wissenschaften das Niveau der diskursiven Praxis erforscht, will man sie nicht auf ein tiefes und ursprüngliches Niveau zurück führen, will man sie nicht auf den Boden gelebter Erfahrung zurückführen (auf diese Erde die sich vor jeder Geometrie unregelmäßig und zerrissen darbietet, auf diesen Himmel der durch den Raster aller Astronomie strahlt).“

Michel Foucault,
Archäologie des Wissens

In 2019, Jan Nikolai Nelles staged an immersive theater piece entitled 'TendaguruMuseum.' In a performatively narrated theater piece, a computer game simulation of the area around Tendaguru Hill became the stage set of documentary material. This simulation already digitally created 'a world in between'. The contested place of the museum is extended, not as a concept, but rather as an experience, as a virtual place of contemplation and reflection and adapted from the development of a new computer game genre of 'walking simulators' in recent years. It is, in short, an adaptation of the popular first-person shooter genre without weapons or opponents and particular tasks (quests). The 'non-plot reduces the player's action to a minimum, such as exploring the environment or viewing the landscape. This absence of tasks demands a new quality of the player, viewer, visitor to engage with the experience, such as pure landscape viewing, and it is comparable to a visit to a museum. The visitor must have a certain willingness and inner disposition to let the paintings of a gallery affect him. The central role of non-happening is the element we want to use - a place-making in virtual space. The result is a medially mediated atmospherically dense virtual place. We consciously do without narrative elements, and on the linguistic level, purely documentary texts are used. We want to facilitate a situation between natural science collections and an experience of nature itself.