We chart the top ten must-see exhibitions at the Berlin art festival
This year's Transmediale festival in Berlin bathes in the "afterglow" – though not a nice warm pacified one – but instead a quiet rumbling portent of what has been set in motion over the last three decades of 'excessive digitisation' and the possible futures that loom large. The focus is on the implications of the "post-digital" and what is left behind; the waste and detritus of hyperproduction and networked existence. Themes from the art / digital ether including "wellness" and "meditation" crop up in the programme, alongside the Art Hack Day "instant" exhibition – the result of a collaborative experiment pairing artists and hackers and featuring quite a lot of literal representations of what will actually be left and what ends up on our waste dumps: gold in phones, resonance connectivity suits. Because after all, "what will survive of us is…"?
As one of the Transmediale keynote talks, the pairing extrapolate on technological futures and The Stack: a vertical layering consisting of earth – cloud – city – address – interface – user. Metahaven use their usual brand of clear graphic communication to reveal deeper, darker issues we should all be paying attention to as they explain that 'the personal is geopolitical' because the consequences of personal action have the potential to cut right through the stack. Further reading required, and the Metahaven WikiLeaks fundraiser scarves are pretty great too.
CTM is the music festival that runs parallel to Transmediale and this year existed under the moniker 'Dis/continuity'. It's 5am. It's beautiful, it's the Berghain's Panorama Bar. Then Actress comes on and plays a two hour expansive set… I can't even.
An ambient visual and aural journey through depth of field, the sugary optimism and excitement of the subtitles and projection muse on light, aperture and sun / shadow, settling on depth of field as a vehicle to explain the wonders of the universe and ending with the word "wow!" The "intermedial work" performance was performed with their new flute and sax heavy score in collaboration with Berlin musicians.
A strong line up across all three Stattbad venues, though staying put in Stadtbad II for the Dis Arrange programme was always the plan – frankly totally sick back-to-back sets from Patten, Fatima Al Qadiri, mind-blowing 22 year old Sasha Go Hard, M.E.S.H and Lotic.
To coincide with his exhibition at Future Gallery – which features a 2,000-word press release, a hanging, bagged-up Semiotext(e) publication, coins (everywhere), framed currency and cord ropes clinging onto each other in a taught web stretched across the gallery – Troemel also found time to host a talk contextualising his Tumblr project The Jogging. He spoke in terms of artists producing constant streams of information and images, about "Aesthletes", documentation as exhibition and "image anarchism".
One of the developers of Ableton Live software, Robert Henke has since been working with lasers and algorithms to produce a performative experience akin to a full-body-audiovisual-assault. In his live and partially improvised performance, the walls of sound work in conjunction with fast paced laser shapes, culminating in the rather heartfelt statement "love code".
A panel discussion on contemporary models of net porn culminated with the presentation of Come4 - a new user-generated project that aims to become the first online platform sharing the vision that another porn is possible, away from the 'fake, violent and macho-centred' and focussing on defending and promoting sexual rights. Admittedly a weird pairing of charity donations and porn in the hope of pairing pornography and social change, the broader vision of the internet as enabling a rethinking of the relationship between people and sexuality seems encouraging.
"Whistleblowing is the new civil disobedience of our time,” according to Bruce Schneier. Speakers Annie Machon, William Binney and Jeremy Scahill discuss the impact of Snowdon and in an equal parts chilling and rousing talk consider the "unholy alliance between government agencies, service providers and the media". In discussing the fifth estate and the rise of an "information commons", they assert a possibility for political change.
Alongside its exhibition of work by GCC, Berlin gallery Krapta-Tuskany Zeidler presents a panel exploring image circulation, the visual economy and relationships between contemporary aesthetics and politics through "neo-materialist" practices. Speakers include Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Anne de Vries and Simon Denny (whose exhibition at Buchholz, a sculptural accumulation reflecting on the visual and social economies of technological conferences in Berlin's startup industry, opened this week).