David Garcia reflects on subcultures, Alt-s and the politics of transgression
Does the appropriation of transgressive cultural expressions and tactics by right-wing subcultures mean the end of the road for progressive and playful subcultures? In their conversation “Better Think Twice: Subcultures, Alt-s, and the Politics of Transgression” at transmediale 2018 face value, Florian Cramer and Angela Nagle discussed how this question is related to an excessive faith in the inherently progressive and left-wing character of subcultures as well as to a longer history of ambiguous youth, pop and experimental art practices. However, given today’s interaction between alternative and mainstream public spheres and political life, David Garcia’s response to the Cramer and Nagle discussion demonstrates that a “folk politics” of the Left can still matter.
In the 1990s, cyberfeminists conceived a new feminism for the twenty-first century. Inspired by the as-yet-unexplored possibilities of digital networked technologies, enthusiasm spread with the idea that the new imaginary realm of zeroes and ones could make discrimination based on physical and material differences obsolete, thus offering new forms of resistance. In this text, originally published in across & beyond—Post-digital Practices, Concepts, and Institutions, pioneering cyberfeminist Cornelia Sollfrank revisits the various elaborations of cyberfeminism practiced in the 1990s, in order to ask how they might live on and apply to the present.
Friedrich Kittler's keynote from transmediale 2007, transcribed and translated for the first time
What is the relation between computational algorithms and creative production? Can the second be arrived at through use of the first? Is there historical specificity to their relationship due to recent advances in technology, or are there age-old connections between mathematical constraints and creative questioning of the universe? In 2007 the eminent media theorist Friedrich Kittler (1943–2011) worked through these questions (and many others) in a lecture at transmediale. The lecture and following conversation, moderated by informatics professor Wolfgang Coy, is publicly presented as text and translated from the original German for the first time here.
The German Film and Television Academy (dffb) was a lively center of artistic and intellectual discourse in the 1980s. Inspired by punk, students and professors experimented with new electronic media, which allowed them to slice up traditional narrative form to create works that entered the international art scene to great acclaim. The dffb’s director, Heinz Rathsack, was eager to keep up with the times, and in a seminar in February 1985 invited the eminent Hungarian filmmaker Gábor Bódy to present his ideas on non-narrative work the future of the digital image. Inspired by Bódy’s often esoteric ideas, students created a series of projects called Zeittransgraphien—loosely “time transfigurations”—and later a series of three works (together titled Videolabyrinth) on interactive videodisc, a medium that had fascinated Bódy. In the middle of the production of the first works, Bódy died in mysterious circumstances, and the experiments with time sequencing gained an uncanny symbolism. Friederike Anders, a student at the dffb at the time, recalls the development of these artworks against the backdrop of the development of the academy as well as global events, providing a vital record of the time and a call for further archival efforts.
From 2011 to 2014, Tatiana Bazzichelli and a team of others designed a sprawling event program called “reSource transmedial culture Berlin,” which picked up on transmediale-related projects and flung them far further. As Bazzichelli writes in this careful excavation and examination of the project (originally published in the across & beyond book in 2016) the whole thing was an experiment in the way institutions and cultural networks can interact, expand, and support each other in ongoing programming beyond singular events like festivals. Because Bazzichelli was also a curator at transmediale for the same years, she writes from a “situated perspective” while offering a unique “meta-reflection” on the exciting, if sometimes messy, interchanges that took place.
The artwork of Shu Lea Cheang literally refers to the behavior of mycological material at times, but her working method could also be compared to rhizomatic fungal networking. The artist, born in Taiwan and based in Paris, has for decades been creating collaborative projects that bring together other artists, institutions, and the public into complex networks of interaction that cannot be codified according to entrenched systems of communication or exchange. Jenna Sutela, a Berlin-based Finnish artist whose work harnesses the computational power of fermentation and other "natural computers," interviewed Cheang about her projects in this expansive conversation.