transmediale 2017 saw the debut of Bear With Me: A Play For Two Webmasters, written and directed by net.art pioneer Olia Lialina and starring actor and artist Kevin Bewersdorf. Set in 1997, just prior to the dot.com boom and combining live coding with live action, the play follows the efforts of characters Jake, Alan, and Lisa, as they work on their web pages. In December 2016, Lialina and Bewersdorf spoke to Fiona Shipwright, from the Merz Akademie, Stuttgart and upstate New York respectively, about the upcoming performance and how revisiting this previous era of the net can inform our understanding of elusiveness online today.
Artist Simon Biggs revisits questions about multimedia art from a mysterious 1995 interview series
Time travel back to 1995, when transmediale was still called VideoFest: a group of festival participants is invited to answer a series of questions about the budding discipline of “multimedia” art while seated in front of a blue screen. The resulting recordings have become known as the Blue Screen Interviews, and while the meaning of the Blue Screen has been lost to festival lore, the interviews themselves are unique historical documents and prescient reminders of evolutions within transmediale and within media art and theory. Here, participant Simon Biggs re-addresses the questions he first answered in 1995, the year he curated the festival exhibition.
Dieter Daniels traces the historical trajectories leading to transmediale’s contemporary configuration, which continues to resist definition
Physical encounters with digital culture “will neither be replaced by so-called social media nor by post-internet art,” argues Dieter Daniels in this essay written on the occasion of transmediale’s thirtieth anniversary. He dives all the way back to the 1960s to explain why a festival format—one which resists formalization—is still relevant.
David Blair’s 1993 Wax, or the Discovery of Televisionamong the Bees was the first independent film to be edited using a non-linear editing system, the first film to be translated into an interactive and hypertextual online experience (Waxweb, 1993), and the first film to be streamed over a computer network. In its many incarnations, Wax tells the surreal story of Jacob Maker, a programmer of weapon and flight simulators who keeps a special Mesopotamian breed of bees.
"Media art" might sound like an outdated term, but Elvia Wilk argues that its persistence is a good omen
Unearthing a decade-old panel discussion from the transmediale archive suggests that discourse about digital culture might not change as fast as we think—which, transmediale editor Elvia Wilk argues here, is a good omen. This post is the first in an ongoing series revisiting and reviving discussions, events, and media from the recently digitized, 30-year transmediale archive.
On December 7, 2016, transmediale celebrated the launch of its new publication at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London. The book is a reader on the changing (and often contentious) concept of the post-digital within arts and culture, with a focus on the term's institutional framing. Published here is the introductory essay to the book, co-written by three of its editors, which outlines the concept and the content.
“Maker culture” is not one thing. As Teresa Dillon describes in this reflection on the Anxious to Make stream she curated at transmediale 2016, the multitude of practices that make up the world of making are what make it impossible to summarize. The events of her stream focused on crossover and common ground as well as contradiction, rather than a “bottom line” answer to what it means to be a maker today.
Photo essay from the Anxious to Make stream by Teresa Dillon and Lydia Goolia
Teresa Dillon, who curated the stream focused on making and maker cultures at transmediale/conversationpiece, collaborated with photographer Lydia Goolia to document the events of her stream. With the title “Hands of the Makers,” the format of the visual essay reflects the tactile and hands-on aspects of participation.
A response to Isabell Lorey & David Lyon’s Anxious to Secure keynote conversation by Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin
In this jointly authored text, Anna-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin instantiate theoretical debates about precarity in situated examples from their research in Jakarta. Launching from the Anxious to Secure keynote discussion at conversationpiece, they hone in on the specifics of twinned economic marginalization and environmental devastation justified under the political rubric of “normalization,” finding that in many cases insecurity is not so far from erasure.
Florian Wüst on Hellmuth Costard and Jürgen Ebert’s Echtzeit
As part of the film and video program of transmediale/conversationpiece, curator Florian Wüst screened the experimental feature film Echtzeit (Realtime) from 1983. The film’s directors, Hellmuth Costard and Jürgen Ebert, dealt with the development of computer technology and related changes to our perceptions of reality at a remarkably early point in time. The issues surrounding big data, information privacy, and social modelling at stake in this blend of science-fiction and documentary film are only more relevant and pressing today.