ever elusive

thirty years of transmediale
2 Feb - 5 Mar 2017
HKW and various venues, Berlin
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Two people searching through archival box of polaroids from past transmediale festivals.

Dieter Daniels traces the historical trajectories leading to transmediale’s contemporary configuration, which continues to resist definition


The introductory essay by Ryan Bishop, Kristoffer Gansing, and Jussi Parikka of transmediale's new publication across & beyond

Pulled from the archives: the flyer from transmediale 2007: unfinish, where the Media Art Undone panel took place.

"Media art" might sound like an outdated term, but Elvia Wilk argues that its persistence is a good omen

transmediale will celebrate its 30 year anniversary with an entire month of activities. Passes for the festival weekend in February 2017 are available now.



transmediale is a Berlin-based festival and year-round project that draws out new connections between art, culture, and technology. All activities of transmediale aim at fostering a critical understanding of contemporary culture and politics as saturated by media technologies. In the course of its 30 year history, the annual transmediale/festival has turned into an essential event in the calendar of media art professionals, artists, activists, and students from all over the world. Since 2011, transmediale also has an all-year ongoing activity, including a residency program. These activities provide a sustainable structure of feedback, research, and reflection that interacts with the annual festival.

  • transmediale/art&digitalculture

  • transmediale/festival

    A yearly leading media arts event

  • transmediale/archive

    A unique 30 year history of media art

  • transmediale/resource

    All-year activities beyond the festival



transmediale/festival annually presents an extensive range of exhibitions, conferences, screenings, performances, and publications to more than 25,000 visitors. The broad cultural appeal of the festival is recognized by the German federal government who supports the transmediale through its program for beacons of contemporary culture. Each year, a specific theme provides the framework for hundreds of artists, media activists, researchers, designers, and other creative tinkerers to engage in reflective, aesthetic, and speculative positions in between art, culture, and technology. The next transmediale/festival takes place from 2 February to 5 March 2017 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt and at various venues in Berlin.

"Das Forum", foyer installation at transmediale/conversationpiece. Photo: transmediale // design akademie berlin

visit the festival page


The continuously developing transmediale/archive gathers material from 30 years of festival activities. In the archive section on the website you can browse through program brochures, catalogs and other publications from past festival editions or explore artworks, lectures and audiovisual documentation material. transmediale was founded as VideoFilmFest in 1988 and thus the collection depicts a significant portion of the history of media and digital art with all its frictions, technological transitions and shifting thematic focuses. Considered that the Berlin based festival has always maintained its multidisciplinary approach and brought together a variety of—national as well as international—artistic, academic and activist positions, one thing becomes clear: the transmediale/archive also makes a substantial contribution to the archiving of experimental media culture in Berlin and internationally.

  • Since 1973, video contributions had been part of the International Forum of New Cinema at the Berlin International Film Festival. As the Forum decided to almost completely cease the screenings of videos and video art in 1987, the independent production group MedienOperative presented its own video-only program under the name VideoFilmFest in 1988, highlighting the importance and variety of video art.

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  • In only its second year, the VideoFest ‘89 had already become the largest European video festival. It focused on video as a young artform, which has always been a reaction to the “brave new world” of the highly technical mass societies with all their computers, nuclear power stations, destroyed landscapes and lonely individuals. Thus, video is not film—it remains bulky, playful and vulnerable.

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  • Within a short time, the VideoFest has become one of the most important international video festivals.The VideoFest ‘90 program consisted of works covering the field of video art and documentation; the intention was to point out video-specific realizations of documentaries.

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  • The character of the VideoFest ‘91 had become edgier than before: the program included more works irritating in form and content, more documentaries trying to find an innovative formal language for exciting topics, and more videos using artistic means to reflect upon social or political topics in an unusual way.

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  • Also with the VideoFest ‘92, the MedienOperative claimed to reflect the development of international video culture and to represent a rich variety of genres - productions, sculptures, or fields like interactive media or computer animation that break down boundaries.

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  • A new edition, a changed festival: The VideoFest ’93 presented the new program ACCENTS that explored the video cultures of France and Latin America. Video full up: different from film, different from television - sometimes irritating, but never boring.

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  • The seventh year, the year of that infamous “itch” - luckily that wasn’t the case with the VideoFest ‘94. As the interconnections between video and television had become ever more important, the program showed uncommon television productions and tapes that, critically speaking, went against the grain of commercial media.

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  • The VideoFest ‘95 saw beyond the tip of its nose and explored in detail what the new magic word Multimedia stood for in the realm of CD-ROM and Internet artworks. There were performances, discussions, workshops and an exhibition.

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  • Technological advances grew at an exponential rate, and electronic art started to invariably succumb to the digital. Thus, the VideoFest ‘96 had restructured itself and payed more equal attention to video, television, and multimedia.

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  • On its tenth anniversary, the VideoFest changed its name to transmedia ‘97. The focus was again on multimedia, innovative television and video. The festival also integrated technological developments and philosophical discourses relevant to these media realms into the program: brain research, neuroaesthetics, nanotechnology and more.

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  • For the first time in its history, the festival had a motto: Bestandsaufnahme Sehen. transmediale ‘98 took stock of where television and all the new media have gotten us so far, and what they have given us.

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  • With the byline 'international media arts festival berlin', transmediale ‘99 invited artists, scientists and commercial producers to present digital worlds and beings in films, video and games. The aim was to explore the entertainment industry and its stimulating experiments with art, design and modern technologies, as well as the revolutionary changes the branch has undergone and brought about.

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  • The turn of the millennium: the world was speculating about major computer break downs and seemed to take one step closer to its own doom. transmediale 2000 documented the changing artistic practice in a media-technologically oriented culture at the beginning of a new millennium.

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  • transmediale.01 DIY aimed at turning passive media consumers into active producers: emphasizing the emancipatory, self-empowering tendencies of digital culture, the festival offered a highly qualified forum for investigating new forms of artistic and social participation.

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  • The term “go public” is used in the new economy, meaning the initial public offering on a stock market. Originally, however, it meant the publication of information. transmediale.02 go public! invited artists and visitors to create publicity and to develop new creative ideas for the public space in the digital era.

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  • Conceptualized as a counter-weight to economic and military forms of globalization, transmediale.03 PLAY GLOBAL! presented itself as an artistic "global player": aesthetic and critical strategies were called upon to create playful ideas to handle globalization in ironic and humorous manners.

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  • transmediale.04 FLY UTOPIA! dealt with the hope that lies beneath the infinite potential of possibilities in the era of media technology—but also with the hopelessness of a completely technologized and dis-cultured society, which is dominated by the unlimited claim and use of power.

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  • transmediale.05 BASICS explored the aesthetic and ethical foundations of artistic practice with digital technologies in a hyper-potential culture. For this reason, it presented models of an artistic practice whose ethics derive not from past value systems, but from an appropriation of an extreme and contradictory, contemporary culture.

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  • transmediale.06 REALITY ADDICTS was interested in real human beings, in words and images, in nature and culture. It was devoted to subverting our reality - produced through means of media-technology - with the help of artistic strategies.

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  • transmediale.07 unfinish! investigated the terrain of human agency and artistic practice between openness, finitude, and closure. After all, “unfinish!” is not only the battle cry, but also the curse of digital work—work that knows no conclusion, but only consecutive versions.

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  • In examining dubious worlds of story-telling and remote opinion making, transmediale.08 CONSPIRE... critically explored the means of creative conspiratorial strategies that offer the potential to uncover new forms of expression in the digital discourse.

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  • transmediale.09 DEEP NORTH focused on the impact and unavoidable consequences of the pending global transformation—the crossing of a point of no return akin to the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago.

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  • In search of new templates for the future: transmediale.10 FUTURITY NOW! asked not what the future has in store for us, but what it is that we have in store for the future.

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  • transmediale.11 RESPONSE:ABILITY put forward a call for action in terms how we live on and with the Internet today, and explored the emerging qualities of liveness as a fundamental nature of our present digital culture.

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  • Incompatibility is the condition arising when things are not working together. transmediale 2k+12 in/compatible probed the productive and destructive sides of incompatibility as a fundamental condition of cultural production.

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  • “BWPWAP” (Back When Pluto Was a Planet) is an expression used when one wants to talk about things in our recent past that have changed quickly. transmediale 2013 BWPWAP suggested that this classification crisis opens up a space of cultural negotiation and artistic intervention.

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  • Between shiny high-tech, e-waste dumps, big data businesses and mass surveillance schemes: transmediale 2014 afterglow explored our present post-digital moment as one in which former treasures of our mediatized life are turning into trash.

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  • What do the futures of work, play and life look like through the black mirror of data? transmediale 2015 CAPTURE ALL looked at how we make sense of a culture dependent on measurement, and how to act with autonomy within such a culture.

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  • In 2016, transmediale/conversationpiece created an intensive space of exchanges, murmurs, and transitions. It aimed to provide a space for reflections on idealized aspects of contemporary life under digital capitalism.

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explore our archives


transmediale/resource is the framework for transmediale’s all-year activity including cooperation projects, networking activities, and special events. The aim is to preserve and further articulate the tacit knowledge produced during the festivals and to create a sustainable structure for feedback and research. As part of this endeavor, the transmediale journal launched in 2016, providing a platform for ongoing reflections, reactions, and discussions in many different forms. Festival related projects and events that happen throughout the year—such as workshops, talks, and network events—are presented in the resource news section. Additionally, transmediale/resource is the context for cooperations such as the annual Vilém Flusser Residency for Artistic Research and the regular exchange with an extensive network of international and Berlin partners.

Magical Secrecy Tour, Berlin, Germany, June 5, 2014. Photographer: Adam Berry

explore the journal, our latest projects and network

partners & supporters

transmediale is funded as a cultural institution of excellence by Kulturstiftung des Bundes since 2004. It is a project by Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH in collaboration with Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

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Since 1999, transmediale cooperates with its partner CTM – Festival for Adventurous Music and Art, presenting joint highlight performances and the yearly pre-festival program Vorspiel. Together, the two festivals constitute the world’s largest platform for reflection on new technologies and digital culture.

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Over the last years, transmediale has built up an extensive network of partners and supporters, ranging from renowned universities, cultural institutions and foundations to like-minded festivals. For transmediale’s year-round partners who provide substantial support and intensive exchange contributing to the thematic and conceptual development of the festival editions, visit our partner page. For the wide range of supporters that help making each year’s transmediale festival possible and unique, visit the supporter page.

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