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Digital technology is continuously speeding forward, bringing about radical changes in our society. At a local level, this has already spawned the notion of the smart city, in which everyone is connected with everyone and everything digitally. Still, what does all this technology really mean to us? The famous Catalan theatre company La Fura dels Baus will tackle these questions with a smart show. By using their app on your smartphone you can participate in the smart city 2.0. It’s an environment which looks like normal life – there’s an economy, transport, government, issues regarding citizenship and ecology – but it might demand you to play a very different role …
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The M.U.R.S. app
The M.U.R.S. app allows visitors to participate in the performance by sending them messages and giving instructions and guiding them through the show. Download the free app before going to the performance via GooglePlay or iTunes Store. Don’t forget to bring your smartphone (with enough battery) with you to the show.
Click here for some suggestions for effective use of the M.U.R.S. app
With M.U.R.S. the Catalan company La Fura dels Baus brings us a smartshow, a performance which asks the question: what will the city of the future look like? Can we engineer our societies? How much control do we as citizens have, how much do we give away to our leaders? The show puts the audience in the middle of an interactive theatrical installation which is the city of the future, the so-called smart city, which is dominated by technological gadgets and discoveries. Visitors can individually find their own way through this future world, using a specially devised app which (mis)leads them through it.
Our cities as we know them today are the result of the industrial revolution, but, influenced by the technological revolution and our information society, they will transform more and more into smart cities. While this development has already affected individuals, businesses and the economy, our cities cannot stay behind. The current paradigms of urban life have their days numbered, according to the members of La Fura dels Baus. The race for the intelligent city has begun.
In order to experience life in this digital democracy, La Fura dels Baus have devised a theatrical experience of such a smart city. M.U.R.S. lets its audience experience for a short time what it's like to live in a prototypical world in which all of the premises of the smart city have been realised. The economy, the environment, governance, infrastructure: all aspects of this revolution are included and all of these spheres are digitally controlled. It will offer endless possibilities to the individual, but there's also a flipside: one click buys you a pair of sneakers online, which have been manufactured by an exploited child on the other side of the world; and with one push of the button a world leader can erase a whole people from the map, as if it's just a game. In the smart city every human can be the oppressor as well as the oppressed. Technology has separated man from his cultural values and alienated him from pain, which can have liberating as well as disastrous consequences. What these consequences are and what they might entail, is what the makers of La Fura dels Baus are showing the audience in M.U.R.S.
The performance takes place in four different zones, all of which represent one aspect of our future city. Visitors can use an app on their smartphone (for Android as well as iPhone) to move through these locations by themselves. However, they're not completely free, as, of course, they're being skilfully manipulated by the show and the app.
The app allows visitors to participate in the performance by sending them messages and giving instructions, showing them extra information and guiding them in a certain direction. The visitors are encouraged to take part in various activities, which for each zone are concluded with an historic speech by a famous leader from the past. There is Adolf Hitler addressing the young people in the Wellness Zone, where the body cult takes centre stage and youth and stamina are promoted through a Zumba lesson. In the Ecological Zone José Maria Aznar gives a speech on environmental issues; in the nationalist El Dorado Zone Joseph Stalin takes to the stage; and in the Security Zone where safety, comfort and connectivity are promoted (the 'good people' zone) we can hear the speech that George W. Bush gave just after 9/11. The visitors are gradually being forced into a ever tighter framework, until the revolution breaks out and everyone is free to go again.
After years of developing and researching projects on their own, the members of La Fura dels Baus got back together again to create M.U.R.S. They created the show as a team, developing the technologies video projections and digital technologies together. To create the installation, they worked with academic research centres such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Ars Electronica Futurelab in Linz, in Austria, as well as receiving support from the University of Barcelona's Open Systems department, the University Rovira i Virgili as well as TigreLab and Direcció de Creativitat i Innovació de l’ICUB (Barcelona LAB).