Collaborative Program of CTM and transmediale

transmediale’s sister festival, CTM – Festival for Adventurous Music and Arts, once again takes place in parallel, taking over some of Berlin’s most exciting cultural and nightlife venues including the HAU, Berghain, Stattbad, Kunstquartier Bethanien and the Funkhaus Nalepastrasse, home of the GDR National Broadcasting Corporation until 1990. With an extensive programme of concerts, club nights, presentations, talks and workshops as well as an exhibition the 14th edition of the festival reflects on the current (over-)abundance and ubiquity of music and its consequences for artists and listeners, for aesthetics, politics and the economy. Under the conditions deployed by globalization and digital culture, which has always been a key aspiration and promise of art and pop culture now fully unfolds: subjectivity unleashed in infinite imaginaries meets with the wide public acceptance of its diverse forms of expression. These manifest not so much as essential originality, but rather as the products of continuous processes of self-design based on the eclectic or syncretic appropriation and transformation of available materials. Against this backdrop, today’s music presents itself as more diverse than ever before, and never before have the listeners’ ears been so receptive. This “anything goes” situation, barely constrained by canons, technological limitations, or gatekeeper authorities, fosters what appears to be a paradisiacal flowering of fully realized creative potential: The Golden Age. But when self-expression,34 once a heavily contested strategy for emancipation, becomes the norm within digital capitalism’s gift economy, that which initially appears to be the manifestation of long fought-for creative freedom quickly reveals its shadow side: competition for the limelight, narcissism, “tumblerization”, redundancy, unfair appropriation, or sterility are just some of the catchwords up for discussion.

 

A close collaboration between transmediale and the CTM Festival developed this year’s program of audiovisual and audio performances in the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Performances by Demdike Stare, Gatekeeper, People Like Us, Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez featuring A Guy Called Gerald, as well as Boris Hegenbart with Felix Kubin, unite the ideas behind both festival themes: Synchronicity of varying time levels; collapsing near and far and the natural and synthetic; and the parallelism of excess and scarcity, are all seen as effects of a de-limitation inspired by digitalization of cultural artifacts and their production. The homey comfort of obsolete technologies and archives stands beside the brutally illuminated, overstimulating aesthetic of global digital capitalism. Reversals, devaluations and reevaluations are to be found everywhere. Dystopia transforms into utopia, the past into the present, wealth into want, and back again. Working with the abundance of existing approaches feeds idiosyncratic reinvention and, at the same time, opposes the concept of originary creation. And wherever the flow of communication with its all-encompassing power can be taken for granted, new (or old?) possibilities of collectivism open up by limiting or even interrupting these connections. BWPWAP identifies the ongoing revision of established categories of knowledge as a source of continuous upheaval. This process also shows the uplifting as merciless accumulative of the Golden Age: The revised will never be completely demoted, but rather retroactively induces many new branches and alternative narratives.