ever elusive – 30 YEARS of TRANSMEDIALE BERLIN

January 12, 2017 by Laura Gomez


An ongoing adventure in art, culture and technology.

Transmediale is a Berlin-based festival and year-round project that draws out new connections between art, culture, and technology. It considers technology as being more than the digital world and the cultural as being more than what emerges from within institutionalized fields of production. Accordingly, the activities of transmediale aim at fostering a critical understanding of contemporary culture and politics as saturated by media technologies. In the course of its 30 year history, the annual transmediale/festival has turned into an essential event in the calendar of media art professionals, artists, activists and students from all over the world. The broad cultural appeal of the festival is recognized by the German Federal Government who supports the transmediale through its program for beacons of contemporary culture.

Under the title ever elusive transmediale celebrates its 30-year anniversary with an entire month of activities from 2 February to 5 March 2017. The approach taken to the anniversary is contemporary rather than retrospective: ever elusive – thirty years of transmediale aims to use the critical and artistic knowledge gained at the festival over the years to reframe the question of the role of media today. In a world where technology increasingly operates independently of humans, where does the power to act and mediate lie?

The title ever elusive refers to the elusiveness of perpetually transitioning media cultures, and to the transmediale itself as an elusive and dynamic project, constantly shifting ground.

The representation and mediation of geopolitics are in a state of crisis. Bearing these turbulent times in mind, the festival invites participants to consider the value of rejecting stable identities and explore speculative positions beyond current dichotomies: human/nonhuman and nature/technology.

On 2 February 2017 the three-day festival program opens at Haus der Kulturen der Welt within the scope of ever elusive. The festival, encompassing around 50 events within the scope of a conference and screening program, workshops and performances, takes place from 3 to 5 February 2017.

The film and video program of the festival presents contemporary and historical works on topics such as urban ecologies, new materialism, and the world of machines and data processes beyond human control. Bringing together short films, feature films with subsequent talks, loop projections, and audiovisual performances, the program aims at extending the traditional cinematic situation through hybrid formats. The film selection includes new works which were never shown in Berlin and provides a look back on the history of transmediale. Rather than focusing only on the history of video art—which is closely linked to the festival—the film and video program also highlights the importance of experimental film and early computer art for digital aesthetics.

Among the festival highlights are Amnesia Scanner & Bill Kouligas, Morehshin Allahyari und Daniel Rourke, Rasheedah Phillips und Moor Mother von Black Quantum Futurism, Andreas Broeckmann, Finn Brunton, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Natalie Fenton, Gabriele Gramelsberger, Richard Grusin, Erich Hörl, Steve Kurtz, Robert Latham, Olia Lialina & Kevin Bewersdorf, Esther Leslie, Joep van Liefland, Armin Medosch (Technopolitics), Rosa Menkman, Metahaven, Katja Novitskova, Lisa Parks, Johannes Paul Raether, Evan Roth, Susan Schuppli, Felix Stalder, Telekommunisten, Suzanne Treister, Addie Wagenknecht, Jutta Weber, and YoHa.

Alien matter

The special exhibition alien matter curated by Inke Arns opens alongside the festival on 2 February 2017 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. “Alien matter” refers to man-made, and at the same time, radically different, potentially intelligent matter.

It is the outcome of a naturalization of technological artefacts. Environments shaped by technology result in new relationships between man and machine. Technical objects, previously defined merely as objects of utility, have become autonomous agents. Through their ability to learn and network, they challenge the central role of the human subject.

The 25 exhibiting artists from Berlin and around the world will present works about shifts within such power structures, raising questions about the state of our current environment and whether it has already passed the tipping point, becoming “alien matter.”

Closing weekend

The closing weekend on 4 and 5 March 2017 ties together the various parts of ever elusive: The special exhibition, panel presentations, live performances, screenings, and excursions will be linked together in a conclusion, reflecting upon past and future media language. With, among others, Laurie Anderson, Emilien Awada, Constanze Ruhm, Caspar Stracke, Joep van Liefland