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Saturday, April 1, 2023

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At the Digital Culture Festival: Elon’s Afterparty

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I’ve been going to the Transmediale, Berlin’s festival for digital culture, for many years. Always with anticipation, like this Wednesday evening when it starts again. This time the festival will mainly take place in the Academy of Arts on Hanseatenweg, where a visit is worthwhile because the whole building with its branched corridors and magnificent views of the inner courtyard is open.

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Various installations can be seen there, they are not actually part of the main exhibition, but have been created over the past year as a result of collaborations between individual artists and the Transmediale. One of the video works tells a funny story about Elon Musk and Berlin’s techno culture.

International thinkers, activists and nerds

There is hardly any other event in the past that has made me more happy and frustrated than the Transmediale with its international thinkers, activists and nerds. In the past, people used to make a pilgrimage to the House of World Cultures, spent hours in the large auditorium, and it happened that after one of the “panels” or “keynotes” you left the room and couldn’t even begin to say what it was about. Presumably those who sat on the podium sometimes couldn’t either.

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At the same time, there were moments of crystal-clear insight and supreme inspiration. At Transmedial, I learned to say “BWPWAP” (Back when Pluto was a Planet) when you want to say that a technology is new and old.

It was at the Transmediale that I realized that doing nonsense with your cell phone and not just using it to make phone calls, WhatsApp and generate data can be an important act of digital self-assertion. I wanted to learn to hack. But gave up quickly. Transmediale even gave up its Instagram account at one point because it doesn’t want to support platforms like Meta.

A visit to Tempelhofer Feld is certainly worthwhile. This time the Transmediale reaches out to the city. When walking across the field, an opera by the artist Joana Moll can be heard via app and headphones, which tells of the fact that too many people on earth produce too much anthropogenic mass, i.e. man-made stuff now weighs more than anything else in the world. I’m curious how that sounds.

Rieger’s round with inspiration from the art world appears every Wednesday.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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