Dear Crumbers,

I collected some personal impressions on transmediale for colleagues of
mine, maybe they are also of interest for some of you: 

Transmediale even more than before operated on several intersecting layers
and on an excess of different events and formats (including the
intersections with Club Transmediale, the partner festival dedicated to
music). This year's title was BWPAP for Back when Pluto was a Planet, which
I consider a great notion to emphasize how our worldview is made up not only
of things but also of how we name and explain them (while Pluto did not at
all change materially when demoted, our worldview/worldmodel did) though in
the festival it was mainly used for referring to the outdated or somewhat
displaced. So there were lots of 'retro'-references', like fax-performances
or a great letter shoot installation, the OCTO
( In addition to the title, there were
four 'threads', entitled PAPER, NETWORKS, USER and DESIRE, and a parallel
thread on the 'imaginary museum' (apparently a notion transmediale considers
for its self-reflection as a festival).  Regarding this excess of (often
parallel) events and topics, my impression is of course very partial.
Unfortunately, the exhibition was quite weak (though with a nice title: "the
miseducation of Anya Major"). Actually it was a combination of three
exhibitions, one showcasing early works by Sonia Sheridan (interesting work
historically, though not really suited to the solo-exhibition format), one
showing 'tools of distorted creativity' (interface hacks etc.), and the
'Evil Media distribution Center', the best of them, by YoHa, a response on
Mathew Fuller's and Andrew Goffey's book on 'Evil Media'.  The better
exhibitions were the one organized by Club Transmediale, 'In That Weird
Part' dedicated to the relations of music and internet culture, with
projects like 'Curating Youtube', appropriations of the 'Techno Viking',
misheard lyrics etc., and the one organized by LEAP, dedicated to
abstract/scientific world models, with a nice work by Sascha Pohflepp
entitled 'Yesterday's today'. 


Concerning the Conference threads, I can't say much about the DESIRE one, as
I just attended a sappy performance lecture by Sandy Stone. The USER thread
had some good moments, though it did occasionally fall back to outdated
notions of the user. It included presentations by Olia Lialina about the
'general purpose user' as a media competent user of software, and by Olga
Goriunova about her idea of aesthetics as transindividuation applied to
creative activities on online platforms, especially in relation to meme
culture (a pertinent topic throughout the festival). The NETWORKS thread was
very broad, with an interesting panel on 'depletion design' (David Berry,
Jennifer Gabrys, Marie-Luise Angerer, presenting a recent book with the same
title), with critiques of commercial social media platforms, e. g. in the
keynote by Geert Loovink, who presented various projects by or related to
the Institute of Network Cultures, or in Florian Alexander Schmidt's
analyses of crowdsourced design. The PAPER thread was interesting because it
brought the 'digital humanities' to transmediale, with continuous workshops
on Post Digital Publishing which were located in a vacant spot under the
staircase and allowed only for 10 participants, but people were crowding
around that spot. A highlight of this was the keynote by Kenneth Goldsmith
on conceptual writing, with the provocative thesis: "with the rise of the
web writing has met its photography" - I don't think I really agree, but it
is worth thinking about it - goes into the whole discourse of
computationality which was also represented by David Berry. The 'side
threads' on the imaginary museum and classification (represented by the
Pluto-Metaphor), were also interesting conceptually (though my impressions
was that all the back-references to Malraux etc. have many shortcomings),
with a nice paper by Ian Hacking (the Marshall McLuhan lecture in the
Canadian Embassy) about classification issues, labeling theory etc., and a
reenactment of the demotion of Pluto at the opening ceremony (probably the
curators had hoped for the public to vote for Planet-Status, but after a
great American style pro-demotion presentation by Mike Brown, and a rather
weak contra-demotion presentation (resulting in the twitter comment: BWPWAP
= Back When Powerpoint Was All Paragraphs), the public reaffirmed the

Further general observations: very young audience; though there were
innumerous events, all were quite frequented;  again more a festival on
digital culture than on digital art.


Other thoughts?