Festival Theme

What do the futures of work, play and life look like through the black mirror of data? How will our quantified lives unfold? transmediale 2015 looked at how we make sense of a culture dependent on measurement and automation procedures, and how to act with autonomy within such a culture. We are living in societies and economies defined by a global competitive drive for constant, algorithm-guided optimisation. While debates rage over government and corporations operating to covertly “collect, process and exploit” all communication flows, are our own roles and responsibilities perhaps being downplayed? What are the underlying motivational structures that propel our hard work and play in the networks? In a situation where the notion of a “full take” of all communication seems symptomatic of how the state has incorporated a cybernetic feedback ideology with deep historical roots, it is undeniable that we need perspectives that go beyond the role of the individual. However, the “self” has also become the contemporary notion of an individual at the intersection of subjectivity and data flows. In the logic of ‘capture all’, life is increasingly governed by never-ending predictive control. Value can now potentially be extracted from everything, and productivity measurement can be applied to all aspects of life. That means work time has become either all-time or no-time depending on your position in the global economy. Within the paradigm of creative work, all work should be fun and we aim to make all our social relations productive. In this endeavour, self-optimisation — ways of making your personal life more effective — is central, and is achieved with measurement, evaluation and motivation, all of which are tied to processes of quantification, datafication and gamification. We may be able to formulate paths to resist the “full take” of mass surveillance, but can we equally define a resistance to the ‘capture all’ logic as its gamifying tendency spreads throughout the whole of our culture?

transmediale 2015 presented artistic responses and speculative scenarios as well as critical thinking on processes of gamification, quantification, ubiquitous networking and algorithmic control and their ways of making the spheres of everyday life, work and play increasingly indistinguishable. We are proud to present a diverse international programme of exhibitions, screenings, conference events, workshops and performances with participants from many different disciplines. Take the unique opportunity offered by the temporary space of the festival to reflect on the future of our datafied society.