Running since 1998, Berlin's Transmediale is Germany's leading festival relating to media arts and technology in all it's forms, and one of the most forward thinking of its kind internationally. The week long event pulls together musicians, experts and activists and looks at the evolving future of digital, and the ways in which it is changing society. Held annually, the festival included performances from Stephen O'Malley's (Sunn O)))) KTL project, Hype Williams, Pariah, Monolake and Raime alongside talks, discussions, seminars and workshops. Dazed Digital caught up with the festivals curator, Stephen Kovats, to talk about the concept behind this years theme, networked society and living online.
Dazed Digital: What is the concept behind the festival?
Stephen Kovats: This year's theme, RESPONSE:ABILITY addresses the way networked society is redefining our physical presence both on and offline. It examines the Internet in terms of the potential available to not only participate in, but actively shape, society's central zone of inquiry and the need to defend it from restrictive intervention.
DD: What was the inspiration behind this year's theme?
Stephen Kovats: Among other things, questions which arose from the previous festival, related to the radical transformation of identity and the sense of 'liveness' online. Also the way in which the cultures of digital networks have arrived in mainstream culture.
DD: How has the theme translated into the programming of the festival?
Stephen Kovats: This year's festival is highly performative, interactive and process oriented. Most artworks, for example, are not fixed entities, but exist in sleep, active or performative states. There is a large focus on workshops, meetings and discussions, which examine the issues around identity and open or alternative digital network systems.
DD: The festival surrounds art and digital culture as a whole, can you tell me about the different elements this includes?
Stephen Kovats: We are interested in a broad and multidisciplinary discourse in art, as it relates to and reflects digital culture.
DD: What are the highlights for you, in regards to this discussion?
Stephen Kovats: There are a lot, and many different elements from music, film, experience based pieces, performance, discussion, exchanges, installations, seminars, but the Open Zone is a good starting point. Workshops are organised by leading artists and experts working with open technology and critical art. We have Ursula Endlicher, Heath Bunting, Elizabeth Stark, Les Liens Invisibles and Open Design City. All are discussing how we can respond to the constant flux of digital life. The HacKaWay programme looks at both technological and social systems that are being critically de- and re-constructed, to envision and bring about new realities.