Transmediale 2007 report

Transmediale, 2007, transmediale07_report.jpg

Check the Transmediale photo set here.

What’s the role of big digital culture festivals? Once it was related to giving spectators access to physical or incorporeal works of art and performances, and giving them a chance to hear live some experts’ talks. The broadband is rapidly changing all of the above, giving remote access to contents toalmost everyone. So, the question is: are festivals mutating into a gathering point for professionals and intellectual entertainment occasions for users? We’ll know soon, but in the meantime, it’s important to notice that the last Transmediale was an old fashioned enjoyable festival. It was the last one artistically directed by Andreas Broeckmann, that transformed the festival itself from a video based one with some sympathy for technology into one of the major international event on digital culture. Needless to say his signature was virtually printed on most of the 2007 edition. Following his tradition of lining up thought provoking theoreticians and artists, this year three (then sold out) keynotes were assigned to three historical figures: the German philosopher Friedrich Kittler (talking about machine and intelligence he said: “humans are not predictable”), the U.S. theoretician Arthur Kroker, struggling to keep his neologism-rich style on track for a European critical audience, and the celebrated Australian artist Stelarc. The result was a deep immersion into some of the last fifteen years key topics related to technologically induced social and cultural transformations. The latter were also tracked by the whole opera of David Rokeby presented to a crowded audience by himself. On the other side the ‘new’ was represented by the unavoidable rising attention to China’s controversies and Iraq media problems (with an (hack)tivist perspective applied in a specific conference). The exhibition was probably the festival weakest point, without a tangible ‘red line’ amongst the (‘unfinished’?) works, nor it was so exciting compared to the excesses of the 2006 one. The awards were even less exciting, with no more reference points nor a strong competition concept focus. And if somebody could be disappointed by a ‘manneristic’ performance by Richard Chartier and Taylor Deupree (usually much more skilled in their respective music albums), he could also found himself ‘kidnapped’ in a peculiar experience like the ‘Schwelle’ dark immersed performance at Tesla venue. That’s the festival spirit. In the meantime, during the press conference, Stephen Kovats, the new artistic director, ex v2’s chief curator, has already announced the 2008 edition theme (“Conspire!”) that seems more than promising in contributing to the festival evolution to new unexpected and intriguing digital landscapes.