|This article relies on references to primary sources. (May 2012)|
transmediale is an annual festival for media art and digital culture taking place for one week in February in Berlin, Germany. The festival engages in reflective, aesthetic and speculative positions in between art, technology and culture. It seeks to express a critical understanding of technology as being more than the digital world as well as of the cultural as being more than what emerges from within institutionalised fields of production. Accordingly, transmediale is a transdisciplinary platform, always searching for new avenues of artistic, academic, activist and everyday expressions. It is a project always on the look out for projects and persons who may help to navigate, reflect on and ultimately re-model the production of contemporary culture.
Within the scope of its annual festival, transmediale includes exhibitions, conferences, film and video programmes, live performances and publications. It also contributes to long- and short-term collaboration projects unfolding throughout the year. Moreover club transmediale (since 2011 called CTM) takes place in parallel and in cooperation dedicated to contemporary electronic, digital and experimental music.
transmediale was founded in 1988 as VideoFilmFest, a side-project of the Berlin Berlinale’s International Forum of New Cinema with the intention to offer a platform to electronic media productions not accepted at traditional film festivals such as the Berlinale.
Within the following 20 years, the festival steadily evolved: in 1997 it was first renamed transmedia before it was named transmediale in 1998. This change reflected the festival’s expanding programme which now embraced a wide spectrum of multimedia-based art forms. In 2001, transmediale was restructured. The relocation of the festival to the House of World Cultures and a further expanded programme lead to increasing numbers of visitors to the festival. At transmediale.02, for the first time, an extensive exhibition was presented to the audience, allowing attendees to experience media art spatially. In 2006, the subtitle of the festival changed from international media art festival to festival for art and digital culture, opening up the festival to not just pure media art but also to projects where art, technology and the digital age meet the everyday. The opening of the festival is further reflected in the extension of the transmediale Award with the Vilém Flusser Theory Award, as a reaction to a growing number of theoretical and critical works submitted for the competition. In 2008, the 'transmediale parcours' publication series was launched in order to reflect upon research, as well as artistic and critical backgrounds behind each festival’s theme. The transmediale Vilém Flusser Theory Award recognized outstanding research based art works as well as those dealing with media theory between 2008 and 2011. For the 2012 festival the Theory Award will be transformed into a Residency Programme for artistic research. Moreover, there will be no transmediale Award and also no Open Web Award. Instead, we are opting for tight curatorial coherence in the programming as well as more community engagement outside of the festival.
In 1999 club transmediale was founded as an independent parallel event. Focusing primarily on electronic music and club culture, it is organised by a curatorially and financially independent team. Initially called festival for electronic music, since 2006 it is showing current trends of electronic and experimental music culture under the name of a festival for adventurous music and related arts at prominent localities for club culture, such as Maria am Ostbahnhof in Berlin. Since 2011 club transmediale is called CTM.
With the festival in 2012 transmediale celebrated its 25 year anniversary with a programme looking back to the past while redefining what it could be in the future. This special occasion will be put down on paper into thematic publications as well as a festschrift.
Since 2001 transmediale follows thematic headlines:
- transmediale.01 : Do it Yourself!
- transmediale.02 : Go Public!
- transmediale.03 : Play Global!
- transmediale.04 : Fly Utopia!
- transmediale.05 : Basics
- transmediale.06 : Reality Addicts
- transmediale.07 : Unfinish!
- transmediale.08 : Conspire...
- transmediale.09 : Deep North
- transmediale.10 : Futurity Now!
- transmediale.11 : Response:ability
- transmediale.12 : in/compatible
- transmediale.13 : BWPWAP – Back When Pluto Was a Planet
- transmediale.14 : afterglow
The festival was founded by Hartmut Horst and the video artist and activist Micky Kwella († 2003). Between 2001 and 2007 transmediale was directed by the art scientist and curator Andreas Broeckmann. He was superseded by the Canadian Stephen Kovats, who led the festival until 2011. Since April 2011 the Swedish cultural producer and media theorist Kristoffer Gansing has been appointed as the new artistic director of the festival.
In 2004, the Kulturstiftung des Bundes decided to fund transmediale (alongside documenta and the Berlin Biennale amongst others) as a Beacon of contemporary culture. The funding institution expressed their wish to continue their support of the festival until 2017. Transmediale is carried by Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH, which was signed with the firm name Kulturveranstaltungs-GmbH until 2005.
The transmediale is ministered by a small team throughout the whole year. Each fall it is growing considerably in size preparing for the festival's production, which reaches its peak in December and January. After the festival in February, transmediale seemingly falls into what can be considered a spring/summer slumber.
reSource transmedial culture berlin is the new year-round initiative of transmediale festival, in partnership with CTM/DISK, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien and the Post-Media Lab(Leuphana University of Lüneburg). As a combination of networking, research and curating, the reSource is a new framework for festival related projects that happen throughout the year. reSource aims at giving something back to the community as well as creating a dynamic feedback to the festival content. The reSource project will continue through 2012, and 2013, and define the continuity between the future and former thematic threads, while acknowledging the importance of the festival as an accessible and dynamic forum for the translocal media art scene.
The VideoFilmFest took place in the spaces of the MedienOperative and the Deutsche Akademie der Künste in the former eastern part of Berlin. In 1993 it changed locations and went into the Podewil, which inhabits the offices of transmediale since 1997. For a short period of time (2006–2008), the Podewil was named Tesla Berlin and was closely intertwined with the transmediale, not least because Andreas Broeckmann was one of the three directors of the Tesla to that time. In the years between 2002 until 2005 the festival took place at the im House of World Cultures. In 2006 it moved into the Akademie der Künste, but is back in the House of World Cultures since 2008.
The last transmediale festival took place between January 29th and February 3rd 2013 under the BWPWAP(Back When Pluto Was A Planet) theme. The demotion of Pluto to “dwarf planet” status will be used as a metaphor at the festival, for the constant shifting of technology and knowledge paradigms that drive the creation of new cultural imaginaries. The festival aimed to demonstrate how a moment of crisis in classification may be appropriated as a canvas of opportunity.
The curatorial team of the 26th edition of transmediale consists of
- Kristoffer Gansing: artistic director/ conference & performances curator
- Tatiana Bazzichelli: conference, workshops, and reSource for transmedial culture curator
- Jacob Lillemose: exhibition curator
- Marcel Schwierin: film & video programme curator
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