Onkel Milgram's Open Mike

Project: 

ZIA invented and launched the live and participatory show Onkel Milgram's Open Mike. It combined popular open mike/poetry slam contests with the infamous 1961 Milgram experiment.

Objective: 

What if an audience's reaction had a direct bodily impact on the writers performing literary texts on stage? To see how far listeners would go and what a performer might be willing to endure, we created a setup in which volunteer performers were connected to a medical electro-stimulation device. The audience was given the power to vary the strength of the electric shocks: the less the audience liked the texts, the higher the force. Voting took place via text messaging. In a variation on Milgram's original experiment, the speakers were allowed to leave the stage at their own will. The length of the performance was thus a product of literary quality and the power of endurance of the speaker. Henryk M. Broder wrote on Spiegel Online: "Whatever it [the event] was, the result was joyful. The 'fun society' is in its final throes. Now and then it twitches a little, but only when it receives electric shock therapy."

Contribution: 

We conceived of the idea for the event and hosted it ourselves.

Year: 
2006

Electrified performance by Klaus Cäsar Zehrer. Photo: Johannes Jander