At transmediale 2012, which will take place from 31 January to 5 February at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt with the new Artistic Director Kristoffer Gansing, everything will revolve around the theme in/compatible.

Incompatibility refers to the condition that arises when things do not work together – a pervasive phenomenon in the field of technology. Both developers and hackers are always working to improve systems; however, hackers do not always act on the basis of functional motives, but sometimes disrupt systems in order to criticise them. Especially in times of crisis, this force of in/compatible tension possesses potential for renewal. At transmediale, this tactic will be transferred from the technological to political, aesthetic and other social systems in order to examine productive and destructive aspects of the in/compatible.

In the spirit of ruptures, gaps and creative hacks, the festival for digital art and culture will celebrate its 25th anniversary with an international programme featuring discussion panels, artworks, video screenings, workshops, performances and art interventions. As always, transmediale runs parallel to and in cooperation with Berlin’s CTM – Festival for Adventurous Music and Related Arts. The two-day symposium in/compatible: systems | publics | aesthetics comprises interdisciplinary panels on the in/compatible’s logics of production in today’s network culture. In keeping with this topic, the exhibition Dark Drives: Uneasy Energies in Technological Times displays works of art and artefacts of everyday culture that direct our attention to the dark side of our technologised lives.

Under the title The Ghosts in the Machine, the performance programme reflects upon the in/compatible relationship between analogue and digital media; the legendary Joshua Light Show provides a particular highlight. The video programme
Satellite Stories raises the question of the compatibility between human beings and the products they create. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the festival also offers glimpses of the history of media art and culture in Berlin. Meanwhile, the newly initiated reSource for transmedial culture provides a platform for an open dialogue between media artists, scholars, and hackers, and thus permits to take a glimpse into the future of network culture.

Featuring: Ant Farm, Babak Afrassiabi & Nasrin Tabatabai, Chris Burden, Jennifer Chan, Shu Lea Cheang, Gabriella Coleman, Jodi Dean, Harun Farocki, Matthew Fuller, Dominic Gagnon, Goodiepal, Orit Halpern, Graham Harman, Stefan and Ralph Heidenreich, Tsila Hassine, Susanne Jaschko, JODI, Sture Johannesson, Joshua Light Show, Eckhart Lottman, Basim Magdy, Bjørn Melhus, Rosa Menkman, Sergio Messina, Ziv Neeman, Neozoon, Johannes P Osterhoff, Morten Riis, Roee Rosen, Billy Roisz, Andreas Schneider, Pit Schultz, Robert Sakrowski, jon.satrom, Igor Štromajer, Florian Wüst, Siegfried Zielinski and many others.

Exhibition: Dark Drives. Uneasy Energies in Technological Times

In an exhibition curated by Jacob Lillemose, more than 35 works of art and artefacts of everyday culture approach the dark side of technological culture from various points of view. Under the title Dark Drives: Uneasy Energies in Technological Times, a constellation emerges in which our relationship to technology appears ambivalent, unpredictable and amorphous. The exhibition takes up psychological, social, political, material and aesthetic perspectives that can be linked to sensitive topics such as addiction, anxiety, frustration, confusion, contradiction and aggression. At the same time, these disturbing aspects are used by artists to help us reflect and act upon uneasy energies within our relationship to technology. Moreover the exhibition includes both contemporary and historical works, which radiate an uneasy energy.

Daniel García Andújar’s work Armed Citizen (1998/2006) alludes to the commercial nature of our network culture’s logic of access. The artist projects images of guns that can be bought online – like any other consumer good – and thus represent their ready availability for the “armed citizen”. The artist group Art 404 opens up a broad complex of discussion and debate with their sculpture 5 Million Dollars 1 Terabyte (2011). The artists saved 1 terabyte, or five million US dollars, of unlicensed software to a hard drive. An index lists the value, required storage capacity and illegal download link for a range of products that includes AutoCAD programs, video games and audio books.

In his video Realigning My Thoughts On Jasper Johns, JK Keller creates a glitch version of the Simpsons episode Mom and Pop Art (Season 10, Episode 19), which included a guest appearance by the artist Jasper Johns; in this work, he develops an aesthetic that disturbs in a very different way. Keller aestheticises errors in the audio and video material by deliberately distorting them through digital manipulation by standardised software. His technique transforms a pop-industrial, massproduced product into an idiosyncratic, abstract animation reminiscent of John’s Pop Art wax collages. In addition to the artworks, a number of everyday cultural artefacts further explore the theme of the exhibition.

Vibek Raj Maurya and Jack Caravanos published their photographic documentation of the overwhelming amounts of electronic waste deposited in Third World countries on Flickr. A selection of around 60 of these images takes transmediale visitors on a journey to the dark side of a ‘lifestyle culture’ that constantly craves hardware updates.

Featuring: 0100101110101101.ORG, Art 404, Ant Farm, Antony Balch / William S. Burroughs, Heath Bunting, Chris Burden, Heath Bunting, Bureau of Inverse Technology (BIT), Costanza Candeloro / Luca Libertini, Jack Caravanos (Blacksmith Institute), Jennifer Chan, Tracy Cornish, Chris Cunningham / Aphex Twin, Constant Dullaart, [epidemiC], Daniel García Andújar, Matteo Giordano, Goodiepal, Bjørn Erik Haugen, Jaromil, JODI, Sture Johannesson, Junko & Mattin, JK Keller, TR Kirstein, Mistress Koyo / Karla Grundig, Peter Luining, Paidia Institute, Vibek Raj Maurya, jon.satrom, SPK, Nikola Tesla, UBERMORGEN.COM, Steina and Woody Vasulka, VNS Matrix, Marcelina Wellmer, Ruth White, among others.

Video Programme: Satellite Stories

The video programme Satellite Stories, curated by Marcel Schwierin, raises the question of the compatibility between human beings and the products they create. Whether we look to politics, the financial markets, architecture, traffic, fashion or – in particular – to the mass media: we create an environment that is intended to satisfy our needs, but one that also consistently makes demands upon us that we cannot achieve. The products seem to develop a life of their own, and are no longer adapted to suit human needs; instead, we are forced to adapt to them in order to avoid becoming incompatible ourselves. In recent years artists have come to focus more and more on the Internet as the object of their scrutiny.

Dominic Gagnon’s Pieces and Love All to Hell is based on censored YouTube videos that the artist was able to download shortly before they were removed from the site. The artist then weaves these into a depressing snapshot of a society characterised by social anxiety, conspiracy theories and automatic weapons. On the other hand, Andreas Schneider’s Eight Characters and Two Syllables addresses a topic that seems completely trivial. He takes a look at several of the leading figures in a make-up community and at their YouTube channels: these are the new stars of small communities consisting of a few thousand followers. The would-be celebrities, who are otherwise generally good-natured, reveal themselves to be furies as soon as they are subjected to criticism.

Of course, their make-up remains perfect all the while – just like that of their role models in the mass media. In Good Boy – Bad Boy, the collective Neozoon examines what may be the most popular YouTube subject of all: the trained pet. Once again, what seems perfectly lovely at first glance (“Good Boy”) soon mutates into the degradingly excessive punishments that the poor creatures, which are completely at the mercy of their owners, are forced to endure (“Bad Boy”). The virtual space of the Internet, which was long regarded as a utopian realm characterised by the free, uncensored and egalitarian exchange of ideas, has gradually come to resemble a mirror of real-world society – with all of its dark recesses.

In honour of our 25th anniversary of transmediale, each of the eight video programmes will begin with a historical work from the early years of transmediale. This will allow us to reveal thematic continuities and ruptures within the video art of the previous decades. Maha Maamoun and Sarah Rifky from Cairo are invited as guest curators for the Arab Shorts programme.

Featuring: video works by Babak Afrassiabi & Nasrin Tabatabai, Basma Al Sharif, Hanspeter Ammann, Nadav Assor, Jeremy Bailey, Thomas Balzer, Dalibor Baric, Claus Blume, Susan Bowman, Michaela Buescher, Daya Cahen, Peter Callas, Dellbrügge & de Moll, Anthony Discenza, Haris Epaminonda, Harun Farocki, Dennis Feser, René Frölke, Dominic Gagnon, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Reza Haeri, Henna- Riikka Halonen, Isabelle Hayeur, Laura Horelli, Sophie Kahn, Nina Kurtela, eteam, Basim Magdy, Jesse McLean, Norbert Meissner & Mike Krebs, Bjørn Melhus, Neozoon, Till Nowak, Rotraut Pape & Andreas Coerper (Raskin), People Like Us, Nicolas Provost, Steve Reinke, Roee Rosen, Aura Satz, Andreas
Schneider, Maria Vedder, Paul Wong and Stefan Zeyen, among others.

Performance Programme: The Ghosts in the Machine

The performance programme The Ghosts in the Machine, curated by Sandra Naumann, reflects upon the compatibility and incompatibility of old and new, of analogue and digital media. The artists draw on the practices of media archaeology by using digital instruments to explore analogue media. In a series of audiovisual performances, this tactic reveals qualities that are specific to older media, thus luring the ‘ghosts out of the machine’.

transmediale 2012 and CTM.12 – Festival for Adventurous Music and Related Arts together present The Joshua Light Show as a highlight within the performance programme. Since the 1960s, a group of artists around founding father Joshua White has been performing live shows that mix various materials and media: film, slides, overhead projectors, colour wheels, reflective objects and spotlights. Their magical, biomorphic forms – originally produced with analogue equipment, but now with digital as well – are considered the visual equivalent of the psychedelic era and are directly associated with the rock concerts of legends like The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Doors. The Joshua Light Show can now be appreciated as an art form that has influenced both contemporary light art and shaped the use of light projections within popular culture, for example, in VJing.

The Joshua Light Show is an example of how artists early on gave an aesthetic form to the idea of a connected network society. The light-show magicians were working with an integration of audiovisual media before such a fusion became a material reality, combining seemingly incompatible technologies and using the tensions in between them for creative purposes. Other works include the performance ideomotoric chatroom, which was developed specifically for transmediale 2012 by the Austrian video (feedback) artist and musician Billy Roisz together with the musicians dieb13 and Mario de Vega. The title refers to the ideomotor effect – the fact that the contemplation of a specific movement produces an impulse to execute this particular action – and recalls phenomena such as the Ouija board. Accordingly, the artists and machines in the performance act as though they were being moved by an invisible hand; the inherent logic of the reflex-like, unconscious interaction between the audio and visual signals is revealed by three superimposed projections on a single screen.

Wolfgang Spahn und Martin Howse
’s sound and light performance Liquid State Machine combines chemical, biological and physical processes within a complex machine that generates an uninterrupted space-sound continuum. The viewer is almost irresistibly drawn into the universe of constantly changing organic structures comprising the hypnotic sounds and flowing kaleidoscopic images that are created through the simultaneous convergence and divergence of Howse’s noise machines and Spahn’s digital/analogue projectors.

Featuring performances by: Joshua Light Show, Billy Roisz, dieb13 and Mario de Vega, Flora Könemann, Valerio Tricoli, Wolfgang Spahn and Martin Howse, among others.

Symposium: in/compatible: systems | publics | aesthetics

From 3 to 4 February, the interdisciplinary panels and artist presentations of the symposium in/compatible: systems | publics | aesthetics will examine recent and emerging developments in network culture as well as the in/compatible in terms of its logics of production within different fields. Whether politics, economics or culture: the phenomenon of in/compatibility – with its productive and also destructive forces – seems to permeate all social systems. In today’s network culture, such forces do not always present themselves in a neatly dualistic manner; rather, they emerge within complex situations that are constantly subject to change.

The examination of in/compatible forces such as system breakdowns, technological errors and socio-cultural contradictions provides a starting point for the development of a modular, in/compatible reflexivity to better comprehend contemporary network culture. The symposium’s three topic threads are in/compatible systems, in/compatible publics and in/compatible aesthetics. As a performative approach to the production of knowledge, artistic productions and interventions are a key aspect of the event. The first thread, in/compatible systems, addresses the specific requirements of a political economy within today’s network culture.

In the panel discussion in/compatible War: Global Neoliberalism as a War Machine, the Israeli artists and scholars Tsila Hassine and Ziv Neeman and the German IT and security expert Sandro Gaycken discuss the merging of military and civil society in Israel and how technological and strategic policies creates an economic model in which the idea of innovative entrepreneurship is building further on the power structures and ideologies of a militarised society.

The panel Business as Unusual will include the brothers Stefan and Ralph Heidenreich and explore the cybernetic networks of the global financial crisis.

The thread in/compatible publics will discuss forms of activism and social resistance that have emerged within the context of in/compatible systems. Anonymity, spamming, disturbances, disruptions and occupations are examples of critical strategies that public and non-public activists use to criticise systems. Some of the groups involved are not always regarded as legitimate participants in the public sphere. The panel Disruptive Non-Publics – Anonymity as an Intervention Strategy will feature the scholars and hacking experts Gabriella Coleman and Tatiana Bazzichelli discussing the Anonymous network.

In Mapping the Crisis – Production, Regulation and Control of Publics, scholars from London, Athens and Tokyo will compare recent developments in the political, financial and ecological crises of their respective countries. In her keynote talk the political scientist Jodi Dean will talk about the potentials of the political and about forms of public discourse beyond the reach of the regulative analyses, reflections and strategies of neoliberal and consumerist logics.

What constitutes in/compatible aesthetics? The symposium’s third thread examines the paradoxical nature of artistic practices and cultural production that take place in the interstices of the irregular landscape of in/compatible systems and politics. The panels examine the ways in which artists, users and consumers exploit forgotten paths, ruptures and functionalities within the excessive abundance of network communication and – intentionally or unintentionally – disrupt and thus alter the context in which they intervene. In his keynote Knotty Problems in the Fables of Computing, artist and media researcher Matthew Fuller explains how classic problems within Computer Science, such as the Travelling Salesman’s Problem
and the Dining Philosophers Problem deal not only with technical engineering parameters but also have spatial, social and aesthetic dimensions. Fuller’s talk will attempt to draw out some of these problems’ implications for politics and art.

Featuring: Jacob Appelbaum, Gabriella Coleman, Jodi Dean, Michael Dieter, Matthew Fuller, Sandro Gaycken, Orit Halpern, Graham Harman, Tsila Hassine and Ziv Neeman, Stefan and Ralph Heidenreich, Kathy Rae Huffman, Olia Lialina & Dragan Espenschied, Eckart Lottman, Rosa Menkman, Thomas Munz, Jussi Parikka, Billy Roisz, Pit Schultz, Igor Štromajer, Robert Sakrowski, jon.satrom, Krystian Woznicki and Florian Wüst, among others.

reSource for transmedial culture

reSource for transmedial culture is a new initiative of transmediale in collaboration with CTM/DISK and the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien to sponsor an all-year platform for the exchange of methodologies and knowledge. The reSource programme at transmediale 2012 is curated by Tatiana Bazzichelli and will be distributed into five different sub-themes: reSource methods, reSource activism, reSource networks, reSource markets and reSource sex.

International artists, intellectuals, hackers, activists and gender-oriented communities that are active either in Berlin or in the regional and international cyberculture are invited to gather new experiences on the basis of research, experimentation and reflection. The practices of artists and hackers are a source for the production of cultural innovation, but they are also to be seen as a strategic challenge to generate media criticism in general and, specifically, to develop a metadiscourse regarding artistic production in the context of digital culture and the network economy.

By addressing a series of issues that are equally relevant for the local and the international community engaged in the production of digital culture, reSource seeks to encourage dialogue and the collective utilisation of resources and knowledge. The initiative functions as an interface between the cultural production of art festivals and collaborative networks in the fields of art and technology, hacktivism and politics.

Featuring: Geoff Cox, Katrien Jacobs, Jaromil, Joasia Krysia, Steve Lambert, Linux Virgins, Sergio Messina, Telekommunisten, Johannes P. Osterhoff, Morten Riis and Shu Lea Cheang, among many others.

CTM.12 – Festival for Adventurous Music and Related Arts

With an extensive program of concerts, discourses and an exhibition, CTM.12 – Festival for Adventurous Music and Related Arts is appropriating the festival theme SPECTRAL to explore the current reemergence of all things ghostly, mysterious and dark in experimental music, avant-pop, and art – and to speculate about its possible causes and inherent potentials. A reversal is taking place on the fringes of today’s pop culture: drag, witch house, hypnagogic pop, hauntology, analog synthesizer music, neo-industrial, and drone music all focus on the energy of negativity and unconsciousness. Throughout these various styles one explores revisitations of past music and media and their unfulfilled utopias and dystopias, conjures eerie presences that rise from the deep material structures, and rejects the state of lively present with bitterness, euphoria or everything in between.

Deceleration, decay, fumigation, noise, deformation, liquefaction, mystery, nostalgia, kitsch, emptiness, loss, withdrawal, the longing for transcendence, mundane alchemy, and xeno-communications are the buzzwords of an aesthetic that counters the relentlessness of hyper-capitalist production and its incessant demand for positive engagement. In this sense, the reawakened interest in the uncanny and in the ephemeral qualities of analog technologies and real materials must be understood as a response to a fundamental malaise when everything has reached a dead-end. Faced with a context of exponentially growing archives and crisis as a permanent state, it seems as if the future of Western societies and their pop culture is doomed to lie in the past.

Everything seems to already exist, to have been done before, and is endlessly repeatable through rapid advances in technology. True novelty is nowhere to be found. But it is precisely such uneasy contexts that prevent us from settling comfortably into the past and ultimately becoming ghosts.

In addition to a comprehensive music program, a discourse series developed in collaboration with the philosopher, psycho-historian and author Andreas L. Hofbauer will address the festival’s theme by pursuing questions concerning art, theory, and music. Ghosts Off The Shelf is an exhibit created by the curator, art critic, and architect Thibaut de Ruyter, that explores the artistic use of the exponentially growing capacities of technical archives and their “inherent ghosts”.

Featuring: Balam Acab, Conrad Schnitzler, Eleh, Éliane Radigue, Grouper with Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Harmonious Thelonious, Haxan Cloak, Hieroglyphic Being, Hildur Gudnadottir, Holy Other, Hudson Mohawke, Ital, Jana Winderen, Kanding Ray, Mark Fell, Mika Vainio, Morphosis, Mouse on Mars, oOoOO, Qluster, Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop, Stellar Om Source, Tim Hecker, Wolfgang Seidel and many more.