Looking for a new language for the arts

Transmediale and the CTM-Festival in Berlin show new formats of post-digital cultural events

The drum beats sound like gunshots. No wonder. The instruments are made of weapons. In his project Disarm, the Mexican architect and sculptor Pedro Reyes demonstrates in a literally disarming way how the negative human instincts can be transformed from aggression, violence and destructiveness into creative impulses. “All this has been made out of metal that could take your or my life”, says Reyes, explaining his artwork. His “instruments” have names like the “Kalashniclock” and the “Trigger Puller” and consists of former rifles and pistols. The material origin of these percussion instruments reveals itself on closer inspection. Eight years ago, true to the biblical quotation “swords into ploughshares”, Reyes already re-forged weapons confiscated by the Mexican police into shovels and exhibited them. Working together with musicians and digital technicians, the Mexican artist, who has exhibited his work at the Documenta in Kassel, now had them compose music for his weapons-instruments and realize it digitally. The piece is entitled: Requiem for All Victims of Violence.

Exciting projects at many places in the Berlin nightlife and cultural scene

Reyes’s work can be seen and heard at this year’s CTM Festival, which will take place from 29 January to 7 February 2016 at many spots in the Berlin nightlife and cultural scene for the seventeenth time, presenting electronic, digital and experimental music. One hundred and fifty concerts with participants from 25 countries are on the programme, which has been organized parallel to and in cooperation with Transmediale (3 to 7 February). The “flagship project of contemporary culture” is sponsored by the German Federal Cultural Foundation. Together, both festivals constitute one of the largest platforms for artistic reflection on new technologies and digital culture.

With the motto “Conversation Piece“, Transmediale, observing its 29th year in Berlin, will provide a platform for intensive exchange. The festival for art and digital culture will, in its own words, “cast a critical look at the discussion and re-think the format of post-digital cultural events”. The aim is to explore today’s conditions for cultural production and participation. On the opening night, Steve Rowell’s installation Parallelograms will be set up in the House of World Cultures, a documentary video project about the dark side of money and power, economic lobbying and private influence in public life.

The synthetic manga pop icon Hatsune Miku will take centre stage in a performance and installation jointly commissioned by the CTM Festival and Transmediale entitled Still Be Here. Using the example of Hatsune Miku, the work traces the dynamics of fans, money and social desires such as can be similarly found in the worship of synthetic pop stars. Originally designed as only a mascot for a voice synthesizer, the fictional character of Hatsune Miku has become a globally revered cyber celebrity with countless fans, stadium appearances in the form of virtual 3D projections and more than 100,000 published songs.

Transmediale, 3 to 7 February 2016 in Berlin

CTM Festival, 29 January to 7 February 2016 in Berlin