Digitalisation, Corona back

Julian Adenauer: "We have to break new ground"

The New Virtual Reality - Part 1

Julian Adenauer: "We have to break new ground"
Photo: © Retune

For weeks everything was closed: the museums, theaters, cinemas and concert halls, the opera houses and design studios, bars, clubs and galleries. Doors closed - and then again not. Because many defy the shutdown. They are moving from the analogue to a virtual world, they continue where they left off before the crisis - only on the net. In a new series we will be presenting this New Virtual Reality in the coming weeks and months: What does it look like? How does it feel? How does Corona change offline formats? Today: Art and design using Retune as an example. 

Text Boris Messing


Julian Adenauer picks up the phone and can hardly get a word in. The questions and never-ending explanations of his little daughter can be heard pretty well on the other end of the line. In between the babbling of a presumably 5-year-old, he tries it anyway: Julian Adenauer first makes a few original sentences. Then he says "one moment" - and finally gives up. "My daughter has something to tell you". We continue talking, get to the topic: The Corona crisis and its consequences - and to his project Retune.

Retune is something special in town. It is one of the leading digital formats at the interface of art and design in Berlin - founded in 2012 by the now 34-year-old mechatronics engineer Julian Adenauer. Retune is currently going through the same process as many others: Somehow you transfer your whole life to the Internet. The platform for digital art and design, which deals with the topics Internet of Things, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence and conceives festivals, workshops and exhibitions, has found a solution with Crowdcast to keep the business running. At least partially. Because festivals and larger events will probably still not be possible in the coming months. Therefore not only will the direct exchange of ideas and concepts be lost, but also the financing through support and sponsoring will be endangered. 

Photos: Retune

Julian Adenauer started out creating robotic art installations and soon after, together with a buddy, had the idea of putting together a festival to deal with her favourite topics around VR, Artificial Intelligence and other technological issues. Since then hundreds of designers, artists and tech freaks have participated in his events to explore the role of design, art and culture in the future. In principle, he sees the chances of digitalization in a positive light: "By switching to digital formats, we are enlarging the potential audience beyond the city limits to a global level. At the same time, however, the competition and the battle for attention is global."

Before Corona, a large part of our activities consisted of bringing people together. The changed situation means that we now have to break new ground


Since 2014, Retune's steady program has also included Studio Visits, during which a visit is always paid to another Berlin design studio. "Before Corona, a large part of our activities consisted of bringing people together. Now, due to the changed situation, we have to find new ways to facilitate creative exchange," he explains. Through Crowdcast, Julian has now simply moved these visits to the web. The first virtual studio visit took place in mid-April. Crowdcast works similar to a YouTube live session: the broadcasters are in the center of attention, in a sidebar the viewers can comment and chat with each other. Surveys and opinion polls are also possible in this way, and individual viewers can also be invited to the broadcasters in the centre. This guarantees a vivid communication. 150 viewers watched the first virtual Studio Visit, in the analogue visits there are usually no more than 50. Julian was so enthusiastic about it that he now wants to arrange the Studio Visits not only monthly but every two weeks. The advantage: the design studios do not have to be limited to Berlin only, the next one at the beginning of May, for example, will be from London. The disadvantage: no money goes into the cash box through the Crowdcast studio visits, the virtual visits are free. 

By switching to digital formats, we are expanding the potential audience beyond the city limits. At the same time, competition and the battle for attention is increasing.

Julian Adenauer is lucky, because of his guest professorship at the Kunsthochschule Weißensee he is financially independent. With the virtual Studio Visits he wants to keep going. Retune is also currently cooperating with the Goethe-Institut in Montreal on the subject of explaining climate change through VR and AR. The project should have started in May, but had to be postponed due to Corona. Until then, Julian will certainly not be bored. The father of a small daughter will soon become a dad again and is moreover planning the next Retune festival, which is scheduled for the end of this year. Let's hope for the best.

Category: Specials


Also a good read