Berlin, February 2 – March 5, 2017, http://www.transmediale.de
This was a very nice new media art exhibition. Everything was perfectly set up, with theatrical spot lighting in a dimly lit spacious hall. There was a perfect balance of different media, as well as artwork sizes. There were some screens with videos, but not too many, some large size sculptures, some small sculptures, some drawings… Some works that needed more time to understand and some works that could be grasped in a second. One could object that it was too perfect. It was a bit suspicious too: too smooth, almost like some Volkswagen showroom presentation or a Bulgari jewelry exhibition. It was a great place to spend an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon.
Regarding the different forms and media present, I appreciated the large size sculptures by Evan Roth (undersea optical cable arranged in infinity sign shape), Jeroen van Loon (internet pipe dream with smoke machine), Joep van Liefland (video cassette palace with greenscreen belly) and Addie Wagenknecht (a large size router/switch board with mysterious seductively blinking network connection lights). Each of these artworks could be take in at once, and they presented funny or ironical perspectives of what the infrastructure and media surrounding us has become. We are embedded within them, but despite that, they appear as something strange, mysterious and otherworldly to us.
On the other end of the comprehensibility span were two data-heavy installations. One by Suzanne Triester narrated a somehow naïve story combining stock market symbols with psychoactive plants, all represented in a mixture of rather traditional media ranging from Photoshop collages and handheld camera video-art to color pencil and watercolor drawings. While this installation was telling an imaginary story, the other rather complex installation took on a research-based appearance and attempted to map out real world relationships. Aliens in Green’s Xenopolitics #1 addressed topics relating the genealogy of synthetic materials produced from oil and the cross-influences that these materials have on the genealogy of the human species (mutations). While the overall theme was evident, the amount of detailed information present on site made it rather difficult to grasp beyond the self-evident truth that it is indeed a complex topic.
In between those two extremes was a range of other, not less engaging works. There were some more or less entertaining single channel videos, which I skipped due to too many people and too few headphones. There was the Protecto.x.x installation by Johannes Pail Raether, an almost theatrical setup and one part of a larger scheme that he discussed in a keynote lecture on Sunday night. Last but not least, the exhibition could not do without some fashionable media art exhibition staples: A Roomba vacuum robot, serving as the universal Internet of Things symbol (Addie Wagenknecht, reminded me of Cermak & Rous’ exhibition), here accompanied by an electronic baby swing (Katja Novitskova); an installation made from cheap mass produced objects (USB fans with mounted LED stripe in the work of Nicolas Maigret & Maria Roszkowska); and a 3D printing project (Morehshin Allahyari & Daniel Rourke).
The whole exhibition, curated by Inke Arns and with display architecture by Raumlabor, was as smooth and perfect as all the high-tech products, infrastructure and complex techno-financial systems represented within it.