transmediale 2013 BWPWAP

Festival for art and digital culture

Based on the motto “BWPWAP”, the transmediale 2013 explored the changes and innovations that have arisen from cultural, technologically-driven processes from 29 January to 3 February. The acronym BWPWAP stands for “Back When Pluto Was a Planet”, a reference to Pluto’s demotion from planetary status in 2006 and an example of things that have rapidly changed in the recent past. The downgrading of Pluto served as a metaphor for shifts in contemporary culture, examined on the basis of four thematic areas: Users, Networks, Paper and Desire. Like Pluto, these areas are in a state of crisis – they are all undergoing cultural, political and economic upheaval. Yet crisis itself can provide an opportunity for artistic intervention and reflection.

In commemoration of Pluto’s former planetary status, the week-long transmediale 2013 has invited outstanding international philosophers and cultural producers from the fields of art, culture and media. The festival’s first event introduced the main theme with a review of the events that led up to Pluto’s new classification. The astronomer Michael E. Brown, known as “The Man Who Killed Pluto”, explained why Pluto is no longer considered a planet.

The exhibition programme at the transmediale featured the multi-functional installation Octo, which was presented at various venues and events at the HKW, as well as the three-part exhibition The Miseducation of Anya Major.

In cooperation with the Canadian Embassy, the transmediale presented the Marshall McLuhan Lecture 2013: Plutos, Plutocrats, & Plutonium with the Canadian philosopher and science theorist Ian Hacking. The event was moderated by the science historian Lorraine Daston.

Festival threads:
This thematic area portrayed one of the most influential figures in the cultural landscape of the 21st century – the user. It shed light on the historic development of user culture within consumer society and cybernetics, and examined the changing roles of the user.

‘Networks’ addressed social networks and the various ways we use them to form friendships and cultivate contacts.

This thread highlighted the history of paper as a transcendental, cultural form and addressed various artistic movements, such as Mail Art and Visual Poetry, electronic literature and other phenomena.

The transmediale examined the theme of ‘Desire’ in terms of how critical reflection on sexuality and pornography can influence digital culture and contemporary politics.

Artistic director: Kristoffer Gansing

Participants: Alejandro Jodorowsky (CL), Elizabeth Price (GB), Ian Hacking (CA), Lorraine Daston (US), Michael E. Brown (US), Sonia Landy Sheridan (US), Kenneth Goldsmith (US), Olga Goriunova (RU), Geert Lovink (NL), Eija-Liisa Ahtila (FI), Dennis Adams (US), John Smith (GB), Sandy Stone (US), Diane Torr (GB/CA), People Like Us (GB), Boris Hegenbart, Felix Kubin, Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez (BR), A Guy Called Gerald (GB), Demdike Stare (GB), Gatekeeper (US) and others