Image via finding berlin.

The art, technology, and culture festival transmediale is underway in Berlin, and this year’s theme is Back When Pluto Was a Planet.


transmediale describes this year in a press release:


For its 26th edition, transmediale boldly goes BWPWAP – Back When Pluto Was a Planet. A net culture expression, BWPWAP is used for that which lies in the past or that possess an anachronistic character.

Rohrpost, BBS, minitel, telefax, overhead, teletext, thermofax… probably we have not missed one single BWPWAP communications medium. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that transmediale slipped into nostalgia. On the contrary, BWPWAP is all about changing perspectives on the present by re-considering that which we take for granted. It is not so long ago when Pluto was still officially counted as a planet: 2006 to be precise. Yet, in terms of media hype and social, economic and political development, the days of Pluto already seem part of a bygone era. Think about financial bubbles, social networking services, political leaders and a life before smartphones (or before e-mail).


The festival has a huge variety of panels, games, lectures, and exhibitions, and many of them are streaming online. Here are three must-watch events—even if that means being awake at 6am—from the transmediale 2013 schedule. Be sure to check the website, which is as delightful as you’d expect from the world’s best net artists.


Olia Lialina. Screen grab from My boyfriend came back from the war. Image via Netscopio.



THU 31.01.2013 – 15:00CET (6am Pacific Standard Time!)

This panel takes its cue in part from Roland Barthes’ essay Death of the Author (1967), in which he argues that one should not focus on the writer’s intentions but should pay new attention to readers’ impressions in order to understand a text’s multiple layers of meaning. The discussion will also draw from Michel Foucault’s lecture What Is an Author? (1969), an indirect response to Barthes’ text in which Foucault renounces the notion of the original, creative author and calls for analytical and critical reconsideration of the author as a function in discourse. The discursive shift and its implied critique of power that the two texts express have been integral in understanding new media, especially the personal computer and the Internet, as user-oriented, inclusive and democratic. By openly asking what the user was, rather than attempting to define what s/he is, this panel looks beyond current trends in user culture in an attempt to reimagine the user as continuous potential both vulnerable to exploitation and a visionary force of invention.


Alejandro Jodorowsky. Image via Intersections.



SAT 02.02.2013 – 20:30 (11:30 am pst)

Through this video conversation with the infamous Chilean author, comic book writer, esoteric and filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, transmediale directs attention to comics as a field of cultural imaginaries that has not gained much attention in discussions about new media (art).




SUN 03.02.2013 – 15:00 (6am Pst)

In seven rounds, eight surfers are sent to specific trails they must complete only by clicking real hyperlinks. During each round a surfer drops out. If after 15 minutes, more than one surfer is still working to reach the goal, a rush to cat/gif/earth-images speeds things up. No keyboard, no Google, no copy/paste … just real hyperlinks!
Keeping in mind that networks should once change the world, Trail Blazers is certainly a playful proposal to explore the Web’s networks again. But much more it is an offer to users: Surf along the most hidden trails to find the strangest things and have a good time.


-Kendall George