I have followed Hotel Modern´s work online for a while, but haven´t had a chance to see their work before now. I find the way they combine live animation with stage performance, and through this the transformation of scale, very inspiring.
I saw the performance Kamp, which was part of the political theater festival Echt! in Köln, november 2008.
The stage floor, about 8x8m, is filled with a replica model of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The back and sides of the stage are covered in white.
Three persons are busy with something in one part of the model.
The light comes down and we see a masked circular projection at the center of the white backdrop. You hear the sounds of people working.
You are watching details from the models, being filmed and animated by the crew of three persons.
The whole performance consists of a series of scenes from different parts of the model, with large groups of people (models of prisoners or guards) being moved around (like extras in a filmshot), and the focus shifts between overview of the whole camp to close-up actions showed on the screen. Since everything is miniature, any camera movement is possible: slow horisontal movements, spectacular crane shots, combined with effective lighting.
It is as watching a film and seeing the making of it at the same time, without it ever becoming gimmicky.
There is no text, only the sound from the camp: environmental sounds recorded in Auschwitz mixed with live sounds from the action on stage. The sound is very important for both focusing on the particular details but also for linking the video projection with what is happening on stage: You never loose the connection between details (filmed) and the whole model of the camp.
There is something very interesting in that you see the whole space the whole time, and that the performance is basically a navigation through that space. It could also be seen as a animated documentary, the crew is just registering the events happening in the camp.
It´s a dark piece, but it avoids becoming sentimental (maybe because there is no music or text?), thus becoming a very effective way of describing what happened in Auschwitz.
A few more images here.