First impressions

Yesterday the Transmediale.09  was oficially opened under the name Deep North.

Evelina Domnitch  performing

Evelina Domnitch performing at the opening ceremony

The first thing I saw was a cook frying integrated circuits covered with a mix of eggs and Silica Gel, and baking pizzas made with electro-resistors, cables and spare electronic parts. There’s a good sense of humour in the air, and no respect at all for technology. That’s relieving.

The director Stephen Kovats presented the event as the most supported and well funded version in recent years and was enfatic about the support of Berlin’s Culture Senate. At a first glance, Transmediale looks the same as always, with a main hall populated by some main works, including those I quoted on my previous post, and many different spaces offering a selection of video projections, installations and satellite events.

On the surface, the first thing you get a bit concerned about is architecture. The exhibition’s architects are a Berlin company named “Raumtaktik”, or “space tactics”, who decided to build a kind of “under construction” context for the exhibition. Materials used are wood and those rough polyurethane fabrics they use to close construction sites and the like. Most information texts are not aligned, intentionally twisted and fixed with thick industrial adhesive tape. In contrast with the kind of language used in the trailer and the cleanliness of the icy, polar and quite romantic (The speaker from the German Federal Culture foundation reflected on some Friedrich’s painting of the north pole in her speech) imagery being passed around in slides, print and other visuals of the event, the montage looks so trashy, that I’m still trying to find a connection. The space of the HKW is indeed hard to handle, but simpler and cleaner solutions can also be transgressive and better suited to give a chance to the works being shown.

For instance, the “man with a movie camera: the global remake” project has been completely fulminated by the dense structure that makes it look like a video ornament projected on top of it. This happens with many other videos and gets worse with some installations, where it’s difficult to say what is part of the work and what of the architecture. Coming back to the works I was expecting to see, the “Tantalum memorial” is there too and looks pretty nice as a weird proto-digital device, but nobody gets what it is about: When you use the headphones, you just hear recordings in congolese without any apparent linkage to the limited informations on the screen, and the machine is completely autonomous, making it a completely closed system that contradicts commmunication processes from every point of view. I couldn’t get the chance to speak with the authors, might someone help me understand what are the dynamics of this piece? How was it planed and executed in London?

Among many other observations, I cannot avoid to feel myself a bit frustrated by these features perceived during the first hours of the festival, but also enthusiastic about the content and the diffusion being done this year. Conferences will be streamed everyday and alternate events promise a series of deep talks and motivating shows like the performance of Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand with TeZ. Coming in the next days, video selections plus talks and discussions, plus the result of work done whithin some workshops will give us a more or less common platform to base our opinions on. So far…