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transmediale.04, Haus der Kulturen, Berlin

From the 28th of January to the 3rd of February 2004 I attended the transmediale.04 conference in Berlin.

The transmediale conference is also a festival and among the biggest media art events in Germany.
There was a schedule of more then 100 events in those few days; some of them still lasting on when i had to leave.
The whole event was a marathon and the best would have been to go there as a crew of 2-3 people sharing notes at the end.

Projects where very diverse and reached from almost industrial plug & play solutions to controversial or playful artistic projects.
Temperature in Berlin was arctic for most of the time.

During the opening ceremony a performance was accompanied by the text:
"Once again there is a need for dreamers who think - and thinkers who can dream. It will not be a neatly organised project, custom built, but a way of seeing the (...) world, society (...), a way against anarcho-liberalism."

It was followed by a speech given by Peter Weibel, director of the centre of media art and technology (ZKM, Karlsruhe) where i had been the day before.
He gave us an etymological definition of the term utopia, which appears to mean "non-space". As media destroy space ... he stated that PayTV destroyed society as people had no common ground. (As kids where discussing what they had seen previously on TV at school, is suppose was what he meant) Cities, and what made them exciting was un-common ground. Utopia was many rooms - not no-rooms. So Utopia meant locating things - and not un-locating them. I hope this makes sense.

As usual transmediale was short on money. Therefor the media arts exhibition was fairly small this year and focused on video art.
The years before they had elaborate interactive pieces there.
The good news is that transmediale has become rather important meanwhile and the cultural ministry has decided to found it the the following years. I assume that will result in even better events in the future - and interactive pieces.

The UK where represented prominently with excellent presentations, great people and with interesting, exciting projects.

University of Plymouth: i-dat
With one of them I would like to begin, as it relates to my interests as well. Its "Arch-OS" an Operating System for Buildings from the Institute of Digital Art & Technology from the University of Plymouth .
(The University of Plymouth also has an arrangement that students can decide if they want to make an Master of Arts or a Master of Science with the same project.)

Most modern buildings have a central, electronic control where states of the building can be monitored and partly manipulated from. Numerous data are collected, for example open windows, which lights are switched on and among many, many others even flushed toilets and the amount of CO2 in given rooms. There are also a number of speakers and cameras in use.
Take a look at the projects, they are not many yet and some just concepts but quite remarkable: my favourite is the virtual waterfall presenting the current amount of water used by people in the building. Many people had made concepts similar to this, but one could only imagine their realisation. With arch-os this is has become possible - at least in some buildings. I received 2 CD-Roms, one about arch-os, the other "best of i-dat" about other projects.
They recommended the books
"Museum without Walls" by Andre Malraux , 1967 and an essay: "The future about thinking about the future" by Ruth Levitas, 1995.

Fiona Raby and students:
Fiona Raby & students presented "Consuming Monsters: Big, Perfect, Infectious"
a collection of thought provoking and controversial - fictitious - projects involving genetics, biotechnology and new kinds of services.
They are intended to raise more questions, than to give answers. To create contradiction and dilemma. So there are transgenetic trees, biojewelry and transgenic tombstones. Very much like futurama - but it is so often that fiction is all of a sudden being surpassed by reality ...

Fiona Raby stated that in the future designers role involved less problem solving than being critical voices. > more links there

On the left image there is the concrete mixer in operation; the middle picture shows the "slide" with its mechanics and the last picture a table full of "slides".

Julien Maire: Demi-Pas
One of the highlights of transmediale.04 was a short "film" "Demi-Pas" by Julien Maire. He has manipulated a slide projector to insert "slides" with different layers of depth.
This enables him to tell stories by adjusting the depth of field.
Some of the "slides" have complex mechanics in them. Together with original sounds Julien is
able to tell quite captivating stories.
He has exhibited at the site gallery in 2001 and 2002, so some of you might know his work.

kidney super market
Shilpa Gupta is presenting a "kidney super market", a controversial project sketching the paths of organ trade around the planet. > order your kidney here. If your a local pick one up in Bangalore.
(Someone mentioned that organ recipients had dreams from their organ donors.)

mobile gestures - locations based services
The whisper project: Sociable wearables
Amazing: FOF - "friends of friends" > social network maps:

I met Florian Thalhofer creator of the "Korsakov System". The Korsakov System is an application that enables you to create nonlinear, interactive narratives from videos. Florian has been to Sinai where he interviewed Beduins about their lives, change of their lifestyle, their dreams and thoughts about modernity. Some of them also tell riddles and stories. The pace of the interviews is very tranquil and slow, their jokes are strange, but after a while one suddenly gets immersed into the whole thing. Now he compiled a CD-Rom out of the material with the Korsakov-System. Feel free to borrow it from me.
There is more info here:

In "Die Zeit" i read about a young professor at MIT, Erik Demaine being interested in Origami.
Is work is interesting as well:

Remindes me of Björn Barnekow who is into this as well. He can create the old "Enterprise" from a single sheet of paper.

Michael Hohl 02/2004

last update: 8/11/02013 22:26

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