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The artist’s guide to Transmediale

Instead of one main exhibition, this year Transmediale presents “Conversation Piece”, a series of events, installations and conversations, Feb 3-7 at HKW. We've navigated the “infinite scroll” of the programme to find this year’s must-sees for you.

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“Precarious Marathon”. Photo: transmediale // design akademie berlin

Since 1988, the Transmediale festival has gathered artists, performers and thinkers from around the world to exchange ideas and explore new developments in electronic media and art. There is no main exhibition this year; instead, under the title “Conversation Piece”, a revolving door of events, installations and conversations will pique your curiosity. We’ve navigated the “infinite scroll” of the programme to find this year’s must-sees for you.


As of mid-January, 30 art spaces across the city have been stoking the anticipatory fire with exhibitions and events. Up this whole month is Quayola’s Iconographies at Nome (Dolziger Str. 31, Friedrichshain) where paintings such as Rubens’ “Venus & Adonis” have been algorithmically translated into planes of vibrant, geometric color that challenge viewers to re-see classical forms.

Meanwhile, Berlin-based Jan-Peter E. R. Sonntag’s sound installation Nymphae_M Rausch Eck transforms Galerie Wedding (Müllerstr. 146/147, Wedding) into a communal psychoacoustic space through March 19.


In Market For Immaterial Value, Valentina Karga and Pieterjan Grandry, the 2015 Vilém Flusser Residents for Artistic Research, use the art market as an entry point to ask big questions about capitalism and its arbitrary methods of assigning value, by developing a participatory alternative market where values are collectively determined.

Also testing the art market is Femke Herregraven’s ‘panel’ Precarious Marathon. The four ‘participants’ are chat bots playing different roles such as art critic and “insomniac artist” who’ll be non-stop trading, with no limit.


The headliner amongst a number of promising panel discussions on art theory and practice is Anxious to Act (Sun, 17:30), one of Transmediale’s four keynote conversations this year. Hito Steyerl, perhaps the most conceptually influential digital artist today, and art theorist Nicholas Mirzoeff will let us sit in on a broad discussion on circumventing the control over and manipulation of the act of looking.

Meanwhile, Market Uncertainty (Sat, 14:00), one of three Panic Room Sessions at the core of the programme, is a debate on the role of art within broken economies. Beyond doom and gloom, the robust panel of artists and thinkers will highlight what’s developing outside the conventional market-based distribution system.

On the global front, Five Years After (Sat, 12:00) brings together Esra’a Al Shafei, Özge Çelikaslan and other influential activists and artists working in the Middle East and Turkey, including Heba Amin of Homeland hacking fame, to reflect on the Arab Spring, the use of new media within it, and its outcomes.

And technology gets the critical spotlight at Disnovation Research (Thu, 16:30), which delves into the burgeoning movement of “anti-innovators”. Daniel Rourke will present the Additivist revolution, which calls for a complete rethinking of the 3D printer in relation to our imagined future, and Nicolas Maigret’s per-formance will prove what happens when trusted algorithms go haywire in a horde of drones.

Also on our list is New State of Mind (Sat, 15:00) which will illuminate new artistic practices that confront the secrecy and confusion of surveillance states, and Making Planetary Scales Gestures (Sun, 16:30), which brings artists, designers and researchers together for a discussion about information sharing on a global scale.


Still Be There (Fri-Sat, 21:30) is the art/music/live performance fusion headliner. Read our interview with Mari Matsutoya to learn more about the Vocaloid global superstar Hatsune Miku and the collaboration that’s got everyone talking.

For Erklär Mir Bitte, Was Beruhigend Sein Soll Am Einlassen Von Badewasser! (Sun, 21:30) FM Einheit of Einstürzende Neubauten will ask former bandmate Andrew “N.U. Unruh” Chudy and others to take you back to the streets of 1980s Berlin through a visual and audial experience that defies categorisation.

Last but not least, Berlin-based Valentina Karga will shape an “immaterial sculpture” in the participatory lecture-performance The Gigantic Jelly-Blob (Sat,19:30) to discuss the position of the artist beyond the confines of capitalism.

TRANSMEDIALE: CONVERSATION PIECE, Feb 3-7 | Haus der Kulturen der Welt, John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10, Tiergarten, U-Bhf Bundestag