In 1895, viewers of the Lumière brothers' 50-second film L’Arrivée d’un train are said to have stampeded out of the theater when a train raced toward them on the projection screen. Unaccustomed to the cinematic experience, they couldn't help but take the image of the train for the real thing. The Lumière Effect, named after this supposed occurrence, describes the phenomenon of mistaking representation for reality. In this essay, the poet and artist manuel arturo abreu compares this (Western) myth of image-reality overlap to the "over-mediated" nature of how the West interprets the face of the Other. This face is a site of projection for Western anxieties, guilt, and fear: a fear that implies having always-already called for State protection. Through a reading of Emmanuel Levinas and Édouard Glissant, abreu suggests strategies of opacity to resist the "violence of the metaphor" of the face.
Is there a way to address the “basics” of life and art practice that is neither regressive nor future-obsessed? This question came up both in a 2005 transmediale panel discussion involving the artist Steve Kurtz, and again in his keynote presentation at the 2017 festival. Kurtz, part of the decades-running and legendary Critical Art Ensemble (CAE), overcame great legal hurdles to speak at the 2005 “Basics” event on his current work. In 2017 he described the trajectory this work has taken in the last 12 years, given the new instantiations of biopower we face.
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.