Force fields and VHS: Report from Transmediale

25 Fev 2012 | de

CTM/ Transmediale is a festival/program for adventurous music and related arts, in Berlin, Germany. This year the theme was Spectral, exploring the current re-emergence of all things ghostly, mysterious and dark in experimental music, avant-pop, and art.  

I was in Berlin at the time. The pretext demanded investigation. Wasn't able to attend all exhibitions, concerts or performances, but here's what I found most interesting. 
Between You And Me, Kunstraum Kreuzberg
Kind of impossible to photograph this one... much better photos and video at artist Anke Eckardt website.
It was a completely darkened and black room, maybe 10 x 15 meters. Cutting the room in half, there was a wall of light, maybe 50 cm wide. Transparent, as in, you could see the line of the edges, the space in-between them, and darkened contours of whatever was beyond. You could put your hand into it, through it, and you could walk through it. 
Sounds a bit unimpressive in text I guess… but it was magical, really "whaaaat….?". It looked like a force-field, something electric and pulsing and real, physical, yet you could move through it. Best part, when moving through it, there were hyper-directional sound INSIDE the wall, a constant, ever-lasting soundscape of breaking and crashing glass. You could stand, move around inside the wall, and be washed with light and sound. 
This work was exceptionally well executed: It was craftily built, it was theoretically interesting, and personally highly inspirational. My previous experiment with projecting on smoke (the darn pixel-rays) didn't exactly go as planned, cough cough. I was happy to see someone pull this off so well. You just need complete control of the room and it's light. 
Ghosts Of The Shelf
A bit easier to photograph this one. At another area of the massive Kunstraum Kreuzberg, there were Ghosts Of The Shelf exhibition, about the slow disappearance of analogue video formats like VHS, Beta, Video 8.
What I liked about it, was that they put the focus not on the technical nostalgia, but on the aesthetic of the media, like how one could focus on the grains of film in analog film or the artifacts of mp3 compression. Raise hand if you ever cursed the useless tracking controller of a VHS device. This exhibition investigated the "feel" and "look" of the analog video era and many of the artists who actively used (or abused) the particular aesthetics of this platform. 
I think this is interesting. Are we able to recognize the inherit aesthetics of the media we are using right now? What will future generations reminiscence about our age, our technologies? 
In particular, I really loved the Video Reclames by Joep Van LIefland. An incredible, ever-lasting montage of animated VHS logos of the 80s. Nice idea for a music video, cough cough. Or for live show visuals. Coughing again, with a whiff of embarassement.
Honorary mention
Dead Record Office. Another completely blackened room at Spectral / Kreuzberg Kunstraum. Again impossible to photograph so it's a photo of the whole Kunstraum building from outside. (Two kids skateboarding the grafitti trench, was afraid they'd beat me up so I took the photo sniper-style from behind a tree.)
There was a huge sub-woofer inside, pulsing and pouring out sinister pulses and tones, like being in the belly of a techno monster. And then… when firing up the flashlight on my mobile to see what was going on: The floor is covered in vinyl LP's!
And they reflect the light of the mobile flashlight in incredible patterns around the walls and ceiling. The walls are covered in… monochrome reproductions (or something weirder) of LP covers? Arranged in huge matrixes. And there are vintage speakers in the roof, blurring out a granular collage of speakerphone voices, alerts, announcements, hard to make out. Completely surrealistic, certainly scary, absolutely awesome. 
Conclusion: Absolutely interesting and inspirational. Success. 

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