Biometric technology is on the rise. Its applications are wide-ranging: facial scanning to replace passwords; iris recognition to replace debit cards; fingerprints to replace passports. Value is increasingly tied to faces, and faces have increasing value. Boaz Levin and Vera Tollmann, theorists and cofounders of the Research Center For Proxy Politics, explore the “token value” of identity resulting from such software and hardware, where one’s “digital identity and physical body become closely entangled” and one’s virtual proxy enters the political realm. Can the one-to-one relationship between self and proxy be skewed through forms of obfuscation? What will happen when the face on the screen looks back?
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.
Kain Karawahn has been setting things on fire for at least 30 years. From his first photographic experiments in which he captured how fire transformed organic material, to performances such as igniting a section of the Berlin Wall with a splash of gasoline, to his work today teaching children how to manage flame, his medium has been consistent: combustion. In May 1997, he set fire to 7,000 books in a collaborative, controversial performance called 7000 Bücherfeuer with Blixa Bargeld for that year’s transmediale festival. He explains the transformational work in this exclusive interview, presented along with original video from the event.
On the occasion of transmediale’s thirtieth anniversary, Florian Wüst selected Jeanne Finley's work Involuntary Conversion (1991) to be explored in the Technology Languages of the Past, Present, and Future event, a curatorial endeavor by him, Daphne Dragona and Kristoffer Gansing that aimed at activating and commenting on artifacts found in the festival's archive. Via linguistic analysis and a look at the history of political gobbledygook, in this essay the artist, filmmaker, and curator Caspar Stracke dissects the “Doublespeak” employed in Finley’s work.
What is a media lab? For that matter—what is a library? What is an archive? What is an experiment? These questions spurred Jussi Parikka to begin an ongoing research project in collaboration with Lori Emerson and Darren Wershler, and have led them and their collaborators into wide-ranging territories. In this essay from the recently published book across & beyond, Parikka reports back from the lab and library—from MIT to Agbogbloshie, from the art exhibition to the startup incubator, to imagine the past and the future of the media lab.
Like all historical time stamps, 1995 as a year is a “vanishing point” we can only see from the perspective of today, as Kristoffer Gansing writes in this essay. The present writes the past. With this in mind, Gansing approaches that particular year, which is not only a central one in the cultural imagination but specifically to the history of transmediale, in an essay originally conceived for the book across & beyond. As the artistic director of the festival since 2012, in this essay he journeys alongside the festival’s transformation over time, in the context of worldwide media evolutions in media art and theory—picking up surprising stories along the way.