East Contemporary

transmediale 2023, a model a map a fiction: day 1

Berlin, Feb 02, 2023, https://2023.transmediale.de

Transmediale is back in its “normal” on-site format after a two year hiatus. Yay! I decided for a combined on-line and on-site attendance while trying to make a couple of very inconsistent notes in a paper notepad as the event goes a long.

10:30 Opening remarks

Mora O Murchu welcomes everyone. She is the head of the whole thing.
Bani Brusadin has quite a long and serious talk about the model-map-fiction theme and algorithmic image creation which seems to be an important topic of this years festival.
Elise Misao Hunchuck did not prepare much of a talk, just chimes in with Brusadin and wishes everyone a nice time.
Jussi Parikka flexes his professor muscle and gives us all a lecture on technologies of scale, visual culture that becomes non-visual, systems for capturing and processing data and the relation between scale and control.

11:00 How an image matters

Zoe Samudzi, the masked moderator on-site introduces the participants, Alaa Mansour (on site), Athony Downey (on-line) and Lesia Kulchynska (on-line).

I listen a bit to Mansour reading straight from paper about museum as a rigid box, showing a ppt with a photograph of a taxidermised head of an arab stored at Musee Quai Branly… then I decide to zap over to the other stage, the “Blue Room” …

11:11 Research workshop: towards a minor tech

I missed the intro to the workshop. Never mind. The topic seems to be “minor tech”, a term modeled after the term “minor literature” and a term placed next to or opposed to “big tech”, obviously. This session is a marathon of approx. 20 speakers who switch in short intervals, presenting their findings, the output of the research workshop in which they participated. The quality of the presentations varied greatly. Some speak very clearly and obviously know that they talk about, other try desperately to speed-read through a much too long and barely understandable texts. I zapped over to here to pick some wisdom from the youngest brains on stage, as I understand this workshop as a kind of incubator of future transmediale presenters/performers.

Jack Wilson: speaking reading very fast, something about Quannon, Q drop archives, Q agg news… alt-right US, fake news etc.

Daniel Chavez Veras: wearing a brown jacket, typical aspiring university prof style. Difference between scalable and not scalable technologies. The idea of minor tech is bullshit according to him. Many poor people cannot afford to be “activist”, they are very happy to get their hands on some big tech. Scale is needed, cannot be avoided.

Susanne Förster speaks a bit slower, probably because she seems to be German with English as her second language. Talks about language models and databases. “Minor tech has the potential to influence how language models speak” was the title. How can a model speak? I wonder. Linking a small model to a big database is seen as an opportunity for minor tech outside of big tech.

Alasdair Milne. Reading from his mobile phone. Planetary scale vs. local scale. Sometimes both are “horseshoed” together. What is the best scaling strategy? Not sure what this was about.

Inga Luchs. Minor tech as an opposition to big tech. Machine learning systems. Streaming Data. Disciplination by algorithms. U.S. crime prediction software is racist. AI democratization. Capitalist logic of ML. We need a different set of values. Messiness of ML. Minor ML? Critical tech practices.

Gabriel Menotti. Self promoting his “Our Collections” project using instagram filters (big tech). Seems more like a designer/maker who does not care if something is big or minor as long as it works and the clients pay.

Inte Gloerich. A familar face from Network Cultures & Moneylab and a crypto expert. Talks – surprise surprise – about minor blockchains. She is confident in her talking style. Blockchain as a plantation. Everything is tokenized for value. ?Memos Forest? Amazon forest tokenization for good and bad. Subverting blockchain to create space. Plotwork as an artistic practice.

Edoardo Lomi & Macon Holt. Only one of them is on stage, don’t know which one. He wears a nice sweater. Talks about Kafka’s minor tech. I wonder whether he means Franz Kafka, Apache Kafka or something else altogether. Kafka machine?

Nate Vessalowski, ooo, vezn … aka Feminist Servers. systerserver.net anarchoserver.org terminal.leverburns.blue … I’d call them the feminist chaos computer club… Feminist federating building a feminist internet.

Shuscha Niederberger. Mastodon twitter alternative. Mastodon for nerds by nerds. Need to choose a specific context to sign up. The lady looks serious and talks slowly. I know what is mastodon, but I don’t understand what she is trying to say.

Soren Pold. Self-promoting one of his projects. Facing face recognition. ada-ada-ada.art he keeps repeating the URL. Image censorship. Female nipples are censored. Male nipples are allowed. Commercial services decide peoples gender. Absurdity of gender recognition.

Yasmin Keskintepe & Sasha Anikina talk like curators. Analyzing some artists work. Tribalism magic. Technomagic and minor tech.

Sandy Yu. “The more time we save the less time we have.” She is talking while a painted stop-motion animation of a person transforming into a tree is playing on the screen in the background. Is she the artist who made the animation? Exhaustion, sleep deprivation. Minor tech as an inefficient way to escape the optimization tendency of major tech.

Mateus Domingos. Electromagnetic field, sound, antenna, practice of listening, listener as a hobbyist. Black clothes sound art guy.

Freja Kir. Minor tech varies and has different backgrounds. Showing 3 different artworks. Misplaced, disrupted, dysfunctional digital platforms. Speaks nice and slow. But turns in circles and does not move forward. Cosmos cal pose with only links to places where platforms have been mis/used in alternative ways. 100rabbits are building all their software by themselves.

Manetta Berends. Minor tech is a printed newspaper. Designer of newspaper… 2 day sprint design and content at the same time. Wiki-to-print incl. layout. Explaining the design tool she uses created by someone else.

In the Q&A someone asks if minor vs. minor tech necessarily always equals to good vs. bad.

14:00 Dennis Dizon: Sumpong

Philipino ghosts and U.S. pop music. Guy doing something on the floor behind the sound mixing desk. Was he masturbating? The light was dark and slightly red in the room. One man karaoke.

14:35 Alexandra Sasha Anikina, Jussi Parikka, Sria Chatterjee, Ali Akbar Mehta, Ryndon Johnson: Read-Write-Modify

Parikka: Things considered mute and inert are not so.

Johnson (videopresence): Nobody sleeps better than white people (book).

Chatterjee takes mask off when she talks, then wears mask again. Black mask -> no black mask. Art historian. Colonial & contemporary. The construction of whiteness. How we see images. What we don’t see.

Mehta (videopresence): IKEA Kallax with little plants in terracotta pots in the background. Violence: direct, structural and invisible. Working with archives. Inter-discipline-arity.

Anikina (Russian). Procedural animism “project”. Ambiguity between how how they appear and how they operate. Racist chatbot.

Johnson. Naming as a form of control. Non-consensual live stream of bears in a national park. “The dog is the brother of the fox.” Webcam images overlaid with text in the middle.

Parikka asks: New forms of neo-collonialism?

Chatterjee: Guttapercha – natural latex used for undersea telegraph cables. Not from plantations but rain forest trees.

Mehta: Language as epistemic violence. Archives as a place of segregation. Performative relationship between archive and user. Archive visualisation. 256 colors of violence. Skin tone Fitzpatrick scale.

Anikina: Biopolitics, violence, procedural animism, procedurally codified differences, database archive, brainwave edited video, seeing like a whale can see…

Ryndon Johnson

16:15 Tung-Hui Hu: Real Time, Dead Time

Trend towards slowness – slow food, slow architecture… Real Time Dead Time. SAGE was a mockup. Real time is just a melancholic imagination. Broadcasting dead air is illegal in some countries like the U.S. “Real time” is a capitalist trick to make people to wait for something. Waiting for something = dead time. Robot server waiting for human input (without an idea of future). Robot ~ worker (somehow related).

(Digital Lethargy – book advertisement)

Latent – withdrawn can be still productive or useful somehow. Loitering in public. No future. Something might happen when you do nothing. Michael Ralph social text – loosing/killing time. Sleeping beauty movie 2011 Julia Leigh. White noise. Black screen. Black jacket. Washed out black jeans. Workshop to not do anything. It is quite hard to do nothing. No questions (almost). Seems everyone fell asleep.

Tung-Hui Hu

17:30 Romi Ron Morrison (mod), Jana Rocha, Femke Smelting, Georgina Voss, Irene Fubara-Manuel: Sublime Depth. Volumentric Technologies.


Vulnerability to build knowledge together. A shared intimacy.

Smelting + Rocha: What’s going on with 3D?

R.R. Morrisson is a very generous and kind moderator.

Voss: Why is infra in the background? Who does benefit when it is in the background?

Fubara-Manuel: Moments of biometric failure (black people). Moving across the border. 3D dreams. American dream vs. people. Invasive imagination & the sublime. Looking for… stable and not so stable… poetics of computation.

Smelting + Rocha: Reading quotes from some kind of media studies Bible. Curious what kind of book that was…

Voss: New technology is not new. There is always a historical lineage. Illusion of technology as ahistoric. (Thinking of the old days with Siegfried Zielinski at transmediale)

Smelting: Volumentric capture and dream of reanimation – linear, progressivist notion of time.

Fubara-Manuel: Unreal-metahuman. Makehuman – lifelike 3D renderings of humans, photorealistic 3D rendering. Showing the backend of tech. Likes the idea of technology as historic. P15 vs. Autodesk.

Question: Can remote-sensing technology be non-violent? Answer from Rocha: It is built into infrastructure. Impossible to imagine. But every tech can be used in another way, tech itself is not evil, only humans are.

Question: NUBS imaging. Appropriating technology. What is the aim? Violent/nonviolent. Answer: ?

19:09 Evan Roth: Worlds in Figures.com / software

G. projector NASA. Mapping projections of different geographers (redlines project). Fiberoptics 12 color bars. “A software I am making for myself.” Impossibility of flattening the earth, squaring the circle. cezar.io, the programmer. Rose at Rosa Luxemburg Platz.

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