transmediale.08: conspire!

The transmediale berlin is Germany's largest international festival of media arts which highlights the social and aesthetic dimensions of new technologies. Every year, a conference features the current theme of the festival, and the organizers hold a corr

Transmediale 2008 - conspire!

With the emergence of "Web 2.0", the Internet has become a platform for generating and spreading popular myths and speculative theories at an increasing pace. With the motto "Conspire...", the transmediale invited artists, media activists and scholars to the festival to address the issue of conspiracy and digital technologies. The festival took place from January 29 to Febuary 2, 2008 at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and, for the first time, was headed by the artistic director Stephen Kovats.

The Paris-based Slovenian curator Nataša Petrešin Bachelez ("In the Gorges of the Balkans" Slovenian pavilion at the 49th Venice Biennial) developed an exhibition (January 29 to Febuary 24, 2008, Haus der Kulturen der Welt) that explored the basic idea of the conspiratorial act with reference to its Latin etymology - conspirare can also mean "to breathe together" - a quiet and cosmic agreement to join an anonymous yet intimate collaboration. Conspiratorial truths, bio-organic systems and twisted realities were several of the smaller themes that were also addressed. With imagination and intellectual curiosity, the exhibition presented thirty-three works by international artists, half of which were specially commissioned by transmediale.08.

For the first time, the transmediale award 2008 was conferred together with the club transmediale (CTM). The jury members, Olga Goriunova (Moscow), Nat Muller (Rotterdam), Wonil Rhee (Seoul), Mihaela Vasile (Bucharest) and Florian Wüst (Berlin), reviewed 1,116 submissions from 57 countries. The three prize winning works were announced at an awards ceremony on 2 February 2008.

The transmediale.08 hold a conference with several panels, one of which, titled "Embedding Fear - The Internet and the Spectacle of Heightened Alert", discussed how political institutions and terrorist networks manipulate people's fear. Loretta Napoleoni, the author of Terror Inc., joined Yassin Musharbash and Naeem Mohaiemen in a forum about the way culture and identity are changing as a result of these developments. For years, Musharbash, an editor of Spiegel Online, has observed how Al Quaida & Co. have learned to exploit the open structures of the Internet for their own purposes. Mohaiemen has been nominated for the Vilèm Flusser Theory Award for his work on Islam and Hip Hop.

In order to do justice to the ever-increasing number of theoretical and context-forming works at the transmediale, the competition also conferred the Vilém Flusser Theory Award together with the newly founded Vilém Flusser Archive at the University of the Arts in Berlin which contains the complete works of the media philosopher who passed away in 1991. The Vilém Flusser Theory Award includes prize money of 2,000 euro which is awarded to media-theoretical or conceptual works of outstanding merit.

Keynote speakers

The Chilean neurobiologist Humberto Maturana staged his theory of autopoiesis together with his colleague Ximena Davila. The philosopher and social theorist Peter Sloterdijk held a lecture on “The human desire for conspiracy” with the claim that conspiracy is one of the basic needs of human existence. Otto E. Rossler, a pioneer of chaos research, warned audiences about a CERN experiment planned in May 2008 which may produce a micro-sized black hole.