The transmediale 2020 entitled End to End (End2End) aims at a comprehensive re-evaluation of networks and their boundaries. In addition to the exhibition The Eternal Network at the House of World Cultures (20.01.-01.03.2020), a film and video programme, a Student Forum and a workshop programme at the HKW, transmediale presents a two-day symposium at the Berlin Volksbühne (31.01.-01.02.2020).
Image above: transmediale 2020 – The Laboratory of Manuel Bürger
Networks are everywhere, whether personal or organizational, for social or business life, centralized or decentralized: node-based communication and information exchange has arguably become the defining technological, economic, and cultural form of globalization and the digital society. A certain network idealism permeates the globe, resulting in all forms of networks and networking practices being mainly defined through the techno-bureaucratic master form of the Internet. Already in 1967 the artists Robert Filliou and George Brecht wrote that “The Network is Everlasting”. The line is taken from a pre-Internet culture poem celebrating the interconnectedness of everyday-life actions across an emerging global world. This poetic imagining of an “eternal network” is a reminder that network cultures exist beyond the technical reality of the “actually existing” network culture as we now know it.
Inspired by this pre-Internet idea of networks, transmediale 2020 – End to End focuses on both forgotten and potential futures with and without networks. Leaving behind a decade marked by a backlash against the Internet and the network society, transmediale aims at a comprehensive re-evaluation of networks and their limits. The history of European Critical Internet Cultures that emerged in the 1990s serves as a starting point: Together with a series of other global experiments in autonomous networking they consistently provided alternatives to the technological solutionist thinking and centralized business models of Silicon Valley.
By drawing on the legacies of critical and autonomous network cultures transmediale 2020 not only wants to make the limits of Internet-based networks visible but also highlight alternatives to bring about sustainable social change. Is there a conceivable counter-power to networks? Which alternative technological models and cultural narratives are needed to construct the principles of end-to-end communication anew? In the upcoming festival edition these questions will be explored through a month-long group exhibition which will present new artistic works that both refute and reform networks, and an opening week full of talks, workshops, screenings, and performances.
The exhibition and the conference program is curated by artistic director Kristoffer Gansing with supporting advice from Clemens Apprich, Daphne Dragona, Geert Lovink and Florian Wüst, all of whom will also be responsible for different program items.
transmediale 2020 Symposium | Volksbühne Berlin
The transmediale End to End symposium will take place on January 31st and February 1st, 2020. For the first time, the transmediale conference program will be held at the Volksbühne Berlin.
Over two intensive days of in-depth exchange, as well as screenings and performances, more than 50 artists and thinkers will examine networks as social, technological, and artistic infrastructures. Looking back at an era of network idealism, they will ask if the network is still a viable model to react to urgent challenges such as climate change and the consequences of artificial intelligence—and what a future beyond the network society might look like.
On the first day, three exchange sessions bring together guests such as Clemens Apprich, Ryan Bishop, Daphne Dragona, Matthew Fuller & Olga Goriunova, Mél Hogan, Diana McCarty, Ulises Ali Mejias, Bernard Stiegler, and Michelle M. Wright. The End to End Exchanges form the core of the program: These address different facets of the main festival topics through lectures and dynamic discussions, with additional perspectives from art, science, politics, and activism. The first session will address the totalizing infrastructural form of networks, while aiming to decenter and decolonize them through a consideration of their blind spots. The second and third sessions will reflect upon the material impact of networks, platforms, and big data infrastructures—including their social and environmental costs—and look at human existence beyond the Anthropocene.
The exchange sessions are linked through two performance-lectures: end-to-end, p2p, my to me by Olia Lialina and Cycles of Circulation’s (Jamie Allen & Karolina Sobecka) Double Counting: The Odum Oration. While end-to-end, p2p, my to me is about the end-to-end principles that informed the internet’s early design and user culture, Double Counting examines the lives of two American biologists, the brothers E. P. and H. T. Odum, to show the birth of systems ecology and how it precipitated contemporary networks and the consciousness of nature.
The second day of the symposium features two exchange sessions, with Roel Roscam Abbing & Aymeric Mansoux, Stephanie Dick, Rachel O’Dwyer, and Eva Haifa Giraud among others. The fourth session questions the totality of the network model and aims to reimagine networks after platforms. Finally, in the fifth session, the symposium turns to artificial intelligence and its paradigm of computational neural networks: what happens in the transition from the network as a structure of distributed nodes to one of complex operations of algorithmic neural networks?
Between the exchange sessions, We Are Not Sick (Geert Lovink & John Longwalker) will deliver their performance-lecture Sad by Design, reflecting on the encroaching sadness provoked by social media architectures.
In Eternity Be Kind, the avatar and virtual artist LaTurbo Avedon performs Myriam Bleau’s music in a multiplatform audiovisual performance, incorporating additional content accessible by the audience through a Wi-Fi network. The work exposes the codified spaces of performance and points towards a different future for personal and musical representation. Navigating between hyper-pop, mythical symbolism, and baroque, the artists propose a multilayered experience of collective mise en abyme.
Lawrence Lek’s computer-generated fantasy AIDOL tells the story of a fading superstar, Diva, who enlists an aspiring AI songwriter to mount a comeback performance at the 2065 eSports Olympic finale. Set in a smoke-and-mirrors realm of fantastical architecture, sentient drones, and snow-deluged jungles, AIDOL revolves around the long and complex struggle between humanity and artificial intelligence.
transmediale is a project by transmediale e.V. and Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. The festival has been funded as a cultural institution of excellence by Kulturstiftung des Bundes since 2004.