»Transmediale is a Monster!«

The HKW aka the "Pregnant Oyster" is hosting a monster that not even Æon Flux could cope with (Photo Jonathan Gröger, courtesy transmediale.09)

The Haus der Kulturen der Welt and its entire neighbourhood is under siege by German police. It is Tuesday morning, February 26, 2010 and we are not part of another dystopian SF thriller since Æon Flux [1], Kary Kusama’s 2005 adaption of the correspondent MTV animated series from the early 1990s, although the architectural installation heavily under construction by raumlaborberlin [2] fits in the ample foyer of the classic modernist 1950s conference facility like a perfect film set.

It is the annual main press conference event of the two festival siblings that share the “transmediale” brand and against all odds of an almost entirely blocked Tiergarten, caused by the security nightmare associated with the Israeli president Shimon Peres’ state visit to Berlin, many press people, blogosphericalists and supporting programme curators have gathered together in the upcoming PHUTURAMA K1 room. They are listening to festival artistic directors Stephen Kovats (transmediale.10) and Jan Rohlfs (CTM Overlap – Sound & Other Media) under the firm and friendly direction of Sally Below from sbca [3].

After having flooded the poor press people with an unavoidable information overload, at the adjacent Meet & Mingle, all two festivals’ staff are confessing each others that they themselves have lost overview of what is happening in town from Friday, January 29, 2010 on. “The transmediale is a monster” and “If I only knew what I am going to miss.” are some of the statements flocking around the professional crowd.

transmediale.n – festival for art and digital culture berlin [4]

Reason enough to start the attempt to sort out some basic recommendations for all interested visitors and bystanders of the upcoming festivals events beyond PHUTURAMA. But, first of all: Why two festivals and how two differentiate them? The ‘original’ transmediale was founded in 1988 by Micky Kwella to complement the allmighty Berlin International Film Festival “Berlinale” as a video and related time-based media side-kick, but it quickly evolved into a festival institution of its own right at the realms of media art and digital culture. Later driven by charismatic artistic director Andreas Broeckmann and co-curating Susanne Jaschko who both introduced an interest for software art and re-launched the festival in 2001 as an important contributor to the European art scene with their ever-changing imperative tag-lines like “Go Public!” (2002), “Fly Utopia!” (2004) or “Unfinish!” (2007). A tradition followed by current artistic director Stephen Kovats who has broaden the festival’s focus to general issues of societal relevance in the particular contexts of media art. The transmediale festival format consists nowadays of a media art Competition, a costly and well-selected media art Exhibition, a track of Performances, a Conference and accompanying Salon Talks and myriads of other side events by third parties (“tm.satellites”) throughout whole town which make transmediale such a “monster.” Probably you can get media art events and installations here in a density in ten days you couldn’t get in the rest of the country for the entire season.

CTM – Festival for Adventurous Music and Related Visual Arts [5]

And then there is the CTM (club transmediale), the “Festival for Adventurous Music and Related Visual Arts”, which started 1999 as a one-off Special Programme for the transmediale focusing on the vivid electronic music club culture in Berlin which then sucessfully sparked another festival format by its own which is more and more just loosely affiliated to its media art sister transmediale. This is mostly documented by the fact that the CTM follows its own programmatic mottoes and tag-lines which are completely independent from the ones of the transmediale agenda. In 2010 the artistic directors and curators of CTM, Oliver Baurhenn, Jan Rohlfs and Remco Schuurbiers (all from the backing DISK/ctm entity) are follow their 2009 STRUCTURES to the promised land of OVERLAP. In the tradition of the well-established Barcelonese Sonar festival, CTM nowadays falls apart into a conference Day Program at the new independent art and cultural center .HBC [6] in the middle of Berlin’s City-East and the a Night Program at one of city’s club-cultural battleships, the ever-roaming WMF [7]. A third major venue is the nearby temporary exhibition space SPA (for Spandauer Straße 2) which is hosting further art, lectures, workshops, panel discussions and presentations. If you are not confused yet, eat this! A MAZE. Interact [8] is a festival in itself, embedded into CTM.10 to explore and discuss the increasing convergence of music, sound and computer games. At last year’s transmediale days they contributed to the c-base e. V. SNOW PLAY [9] partner event with their own very successful Jump’n Run: BONUS CHEAT, now they are transforming their concept into a proto-festival  – hopefully to the next level of the ever-spreading Berlin media festival landsape.

Some Selected Highlights:

• Saturday, January 30, 2010; 23:00: WMF Floor 1 HEAT, because of VJ SNIPER (CTM.10)

• Sunday, January 31, 2010; 15:30-21:30: .HBC, A MAZE Interact Symposium, featuring Keiichi Yano “The Future of Music in Games” (CTM.10)

• Monday, February 1, 2010; 20:00: c-base e. V. PHUTURITY NOW!, the annual DORKBOT.BLN gathering and vernissage of the Bobblespace mainhall installation (tm.10 & CTM.10)

• Tuesday, February 2, 2010; 18:00: HKW, the prestigious Opening Ceremony of transmediale.10 FUTURITY NOW! with an appearance of PHUTURAMA participant Herbert W. Franke (tm.10)

• Wednesday, February 3, 2010; 14:00-19:00: HKW, *guess what?* (tm.10)

• Thursday, February 4, 2010; 15:00: .HBC, Friends, Helpers. Deflectors.“This s not a Game – Alternate Realities: Expanding Digital Narrative into Real Life” Lecture by Christina Maria Schollerer & Winfried Gerling (CTM.10)20.00: c-base e. V. PHUTURITY NOW!, PHUTURAMA Lounge feat. c-base Open Moon Google X-Prize Competition team presentation

• Friday, February 5, 2010; 15:00: .HBC,  Morphing & Mingling: Sound & Art. “Art as Party, Party as Art – From Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable to Today” Lecture by Cornelia & Holger Lund (CTM.10)

• Saturday, February 6, 2010; 16:30: HKW, Future Observatory.“Atemporality – A Cultural Speed Control“, Panel featuring Keynote by Bruce Sterling (tm.10)

• Sunday, February 7, 2010; 17:00: HKW, Future Observatory. “Liquid Democracies”, Panel featuring Sascha Lobo e. a.

Please, don’t rely on these recommendations and explore for yourself. For, when I am writing these notes I am realising that I missed on Thursday, January 28, 2010 the CTM.10 Opening Night at the HAU2 – Hebbel am Ufer and it wasn’t even blocked by any authorities: “Transmediale is a monster!”

[1] Wikipedia on Æon Flux – The Movie
[2] transmediale.10 Festival Architecture by raumlaborberlin
[3] sally below cultural affairs
[4] Official Website of FUTURITY NOW! transmediale.10
[5] Official Website of CTM.10 – OVERLAP – Sound & Other Media
[6] The former Haus Ungarn CTM.10 Festival Venue
[7] WMF Club Berlin
[8] A MAZE.Interact CTM.10 Microsite
[9] SNOW PLAY c-base tm.09 & CTM.09 Partner Event Microsite

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