As Darkness Falls

International conference on the theory and practice of self-empowerment in the age of digital control

Konferenz Einbruch der Dunkelheit © LSD 2013

In cooperation with the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, the Federal Cultural Foundation has organized a conference on the subject of transparency and concealment. Philosophers, artists, sociologists and web activists were invited to engage in a debate about pressing issues in a post-Snowden world.

Since the latest NSA spying scandal – if not earlier – many have expressed a growing need for more privacy, more concealment, in effect, more “darkness” in their personal life. At the conference “As Darkness Falls” (“Einbruch der Dunkelheit”), the Federal Cultural Foundation investigated options, strategies and techniques of self-empowerment in a digitally-networked society in three steps. The “Criticism of Wakefulness” questioned our faith in technical solutions and the necessity to be permanently ‘connected’. The “Politics of Sleep” examined what appears to be the only free and protective environment where we can possibly retreat and de-network. The third part of the conference, “Freedom in the Network Age”, sought a balance between faith in technology and withdrawal from technology, expressing a renewed demand for information-based self-determination.

For a long time, the desire for digital privacy was something that only “cypherpunks” could deliver – computer experts who make encryption of communication an art form. Today, all of society should have the capability of fulfilling this wish. “As Darkness Falls” shed light on this field from a standpoint of darkness: What traditionally important secrets, matters of privacy and opacities do we stand to lose? What new areas of darkness are forming? What are the social consequences of these developments and how can we exercise control over them?

On 25 and 26 January 2014, the Berlin Volksbühne hosted lectures, discussions, panels, readings, film presentations, performances and workshops on three different stages for simultaneous viewing, analysis and discussion. The invited guests included the futurist Bruce Sterling, co-founder of the cyber punk movement and head of the Viridian Design movement (“Cyber Greens”), the journalist Evgeny Morozov, leading Internet critic in the USA, the privacy activist Jacob Appelbaum, the sociologist Urs Stäheli, the writer Dietmar Dath, the philosopher Robert Pfaller and the artist collective andcompany&Co.

“As Darkness Falls – International conference on the theory and practice of self-empowerment in the age of digital control” was an event by the German Federal Cultural Foundation in cooperation with the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. Concept development and artistic direction: Krystian Woznicki / (external link, opens in a new window)
With: Sabrina Apitz, Leonie Geiger, Florian Kosak, Chris Piallat, Magdalena Taube / (external link, opens in a new window)
Production & Press: sauerbrey I raabe . büro für kulturelle angelegenheiten.

An extensive website offers visitors information about the invited speakers and the detailed conference programme. (external link, opens in a new window)

Videos of the Conference

Videos of the conference As Darkness Falls (#eddcon) now available through

Videos at (external link, opens in a new window)