East Contemporary

HdKW: transmediale 2024 (day 3)

Berlin, January 31 – February 3, 2024, https://transmediale.de, https://www.hkw.de/

Dubravka Sekulic, Silvio Lorusso “Users, politics, linkinbio” talk

“Thanks” to some demonstration that lead to a cancellation of the only bus line to HkW, I could enjoy this first lecture of the day via livestream while walking through Tiergarten. Also not bad. Based on the description I expected something about UI/UX design, but no, Sekulic was talking about the failure of designers/ architects to “lead” with their “expert” wisdom, the crisis of expert knowledge, how to organise against the dominant discourse without succumbing to its lure, and that a “changing the world by likes/clicks” does not work. A political movement must be built in physical space. Imporance of being a “comrade”. Giving up individualism for a collective good. Sekulic lead the talk, Lorusso was just asking questions, no idea what his opinion was if anything. Who was he? In the end, no idea really what this was about…. Politics, struggle, against … Rebuilding… What? I guess the message was that “experts” are not going to save us. Especially not those talking on a transmediale panel.

Research Workshop 2024: Content/Form

The research workshop presentation is a traditional part of transmediale since a few years. Even though it is always very messy and confusing marathon, I do somehow enjoy listening in, trying to absorb some fresh thoughts from a large unstructured pile of approaches. The overall theme, content/form, related to the use of collaborative publishing methods. Within the framework, each participant seemed to have had freedom to do whatever s/he wanted. The notes below were taken during the lecture itself and I will leave them in their rather crude and unstructured form as a monument to those ideas that stuck with me and those that did not.

1st panel

Syster server + in.grid + creative crowd (software server consulting) + Winnie Soon.

Wiki2print/wiki4print. Nonlinear working with direct export to pdf. Servpub experimental publishing.

2nd panel

anonymous authors who did not introduce themselves

AI, ML etc. blablabla. Xenovisual studies. Comments from others on the text (absent) written by those on stage. Imagination based on statistics. “Go back to page turn to page go back to page…” Computerlars’ One Liner (DK AI lead political party).

3rd panel

Duncan Paterson, Anya Shchetvina, Bilyana Palankasova

Duncan Paterson: Humans and animals and machines and wasps. Donna Harraway and Karen Barrad (defracting). Criticism of treating animals as a tech.

Anya Shchetvina: Internet manifesto paradox. Whats the future of tech manifestos? Reconfiguration of the manifesto genre from masculine aggressive to one of care and commons.

Bilyana Palankasova: not sure ..social media as a space of cultural value production … reclaiming “innovation”? What?

4th panel

Emilie Sin Yi Choi, Martyna Marciniak, Pierre Depaz, Marie Naja Lauritzen Dias, “we are page 10, 11 and 12”

Marie Naja Laurizen Dias: Press foto of press conference in Gaza hospital ruins.

Pierre Depaz: Semantic vectors blablabla.

Emilie Sin Yi Choi: East Asian technology paradigm, new logistic systems, invisible digital circuit, 97 osaka expo. The only East Asian person talking about East Asia. None of the other Euro-Americans said they would be investigating the Euro-American technology paradigm although they all do.

Martyna Marciniak: Fuzzy fences, shiny coats, AI deep fake images, collective sense making as a response to a collapse of trust in images.

5th panel

“common interest in a calculated use of resources”

Mariana Marangoni, Mateus Domingos, Denise Helen Sumi

Mariana Marangoni: Computational bio-molecular multilingual programming. Non-english programming languages not practical but political. Programming at the end of the world. Necrolegacies. Programming languages something bla bla bla hack reality.

Mateus Domingos: Minor tech. p13/14. WiFi ad hoc network hosting a message board. WEMOS mini.

Denise Helen Sumi: Critical tech pedagogy. syllabus.pirate.care (learning resource) + shadow library.

Rachel O’Dwyer / Georgina Voss: Systems and Tokens, Rules and Transgressions

Nora O Murchu, Rachel O’Dwyer, Georgina Voss

Introduced by Nora O Murchu. Book Launch of “Tokens” by O’Dwyer and “Systems Ultra” by Voss. Both authors had the same editor, same reviewer, same publisher (Verso). Both authors read one chapter from their book. Because of the one-on-one setup, it was inevitable to make comparisons.

Voss selected the introductory chapter which happens to be very similar to O’Dwyer’s introductory chapter (visiting a trade fair in Las Vegas, a different one). It was a bit funny. Just a coincidence?

Voss’ voice was clear an focused and the she read from the book directly. I would not mind if she continued like that reading the rest of the book to me.

After the panel, she was handing out free custom bookmarks and hologram stickers for her book. Such a cute idea. I wonder how to use them with my e-reader. Or maybe I just must buy the paper book now..?

O’Dwyer read a chapter from the middle of the book which talks about Irish housewife’s earmarked money they got from their husbands and about female online streamers’ emoji/token economy.

Videos of twitch online streames played in the background. Almost a lecture-performance. Later she mentioned that this was her favorite chapter and was planning to expand on the streaming economy, emoji tokens and emotional labor.

O’Dwyers reading was a bit harder to follow, reading from her laptop and further distracting herself by trying to manage a PowerPoint presentation at the same time did not help either. But that’s the trade off trying to do a multimedia show.

In the end the two authors concluded by a little talk, posing each other questions.

Voss: Complex IT-tech systems. Motivated by difficulty of talking about ethics to engineers. How to convey complexity in writing. Artworks visualizing complex infrastructure – do they depoliticize it by making it visible? Not really.

O’Dwyer: Open source software/WiFi/mobile interest lead to open source money. Mpesa phone credit as a means of payment. Enclosement of radio spectrum. Erving Goffman (?). 1950s. Writing non-academically. Real life-based stories.

I am myself a bit surprised to say it, but this twin book launch and conversation was actually one of the highlights of day 3 for me. Both authors knew what they were talking about and it was very clear to me what it was. They talked about specific concerns in their research and how this research came about. The audience could get a taste of the books and at the same time get a bit of additional context surrounding the book directly from the source. Having read (and enjoyed) O’Dwyer’s book ahead of the event naturally helped and made me positively biased already in my expectation. The talk even surpassed my expectations.

O’Dwyer was actually a kind of “star” of this transmediale edition, appearing on multiple panels and moderating the closing panel. She is also a regular on and off stage for the last couple of years. And the also happens to be Irish, same as Nora O Murchu, the main curator.

Screening New Red Order “Give it back”

A movie, somewhere on the boundary of fiction and reality, about starting a process of healing by giving back stolen U.S. land to native Americans. Including a Germany-specific scrolling text introduction comparing U.S. genocide on native Americans, German genocide on Jews and Jewish genocide of Palestinians… a bit like to make double sure the German audience remembers they are no better than the U.S. colonizers… as if they needed to be reminded…

Closing Conversation

Right to left: Jussi Parikka, Svitlana Matviyenko, Nora O Murchu, Dubravka Sekulic, Alexandra Anikina, Helen Starr, Nelly Y. Pinkrah, Rachel O’Dwyer (mod), Alex Quicho

The closing conversation started by a lengthy individual statements on why the participants are at transmediale. It sounded a bit like a self-help group… “I am here because…” Kind of group psychotherapy for depressed cultural practitioners. I am glad they were there and there was nothing to be ashamed of. I was also not ashamed to be there. How come they ended up like that?

Starr gave an impressive answer to why she is attending: It is a privilege to be at transmediale, to have one’s voice heard and story archived. S/he is upset by all that cancelled. Anikina expanded on that – creating a void does not create change. Better use available resources than waste them for nothing.

O Murchu: Platforms, infrastructures and narratives in which transmediale is embedded shaped also its inner workings. Looked kinda disappointed by German “unfriendliness” compared to Irish friendliness… Me not so suprised… Wilkommen in Deutschland.

Quicho: If something cannot be said directly, because too confrontational or dangerous consequences, one must find another roundabout way to say it. Not just stay silent.

O Murchu: People are frustrated by their lack of agency, mainly since COVID. Same with ongoing wars etc. This lead to the withdrawals and cancellations.

I found it pity that most of the talk revolved around external influences on the transmediale organization an not around the actual content of the presentations and discussions that happened at transmediale. But of course I understood those poor exhausted academics and curators needed the audience’s shoulder to cry on. You are welcome.

Screening Su Hui-Yu “Future Shock”

A Taiwanese MV circus mashing up past imaginations of the future from Alvin Toffler’s book, queer bodies and architectural ruins of southern Taiwan. Kind of back to the future retro nostalgia, which of course also says something about the present and the ever repeating language of symbols. As Su mentioned at the end of his talk, the sites and sights in his movie are part of a collective generational memory. It was, in a way, a very personal work. I appreciated Su’s honest answers after the movie. He assembled the movie it in a loosely structured way that felt right for him, drawing on his personal experience and world view. It was a worthy final (in my schedule) of this year’s transmediale.

Oh, and I almost forgot. There was a kind of techno-fitness performance taking place occasionally during day 3 at HKW – Mary Maggic “Faster, higher, stronger”. It was goofy and noisy. I, honestly, could have done without it. I guess the organizers thought a bit of theater was needed to lighten up the atmosphere.

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