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Transmediale 2019 – Student Review

The festival started with a Student Forum where students along with their lecturers were invited to open-up discussions on a chosen subject revolving in the digital culture. Being able to attend the festival for the whole week allowed them to fully understand the complexity and effort put into making this possible.

This year’s edition was the first untitled one in 20 years aiming to shift the focus towards feelings, emotions and affect thanks to an open-ended educational and performative approach. One of the key questions of this year’s theme was “What moves you?” while the main slogan was “Born to Feel”. These key lines highlight the important role that emotions and empathy play in our nowadays digital culture.

The Mantis Live performance at Halle am Berghain, the most famous and exclusive nightclub in Berlin, presented Nik Nowak’s latest work. The Mantis, a two-tonne sound sculpture that engages in a sound battle against Nik’s earlier loudspeaker tank, Panzer. The performance was a reconstruction of the sonic wars from the Cold War between East and West Berlin in the early 1960s. The performance was accompanied by sub bass addict Kode9 featuring MC Infinite Lives and video projections by Moritz Stumm. Intriguing costumes, coloured smoke, intense sounds and the overall set transformed the audience into actors that played a part during the performance. Confusion, intensity, uncertainty were feelings that undoubtedly everybody felt when not knowing what will happen next; the performance brought up strong emotions that humans faced in Berlin’s sad history.

Marshal McLuhan lecture

The special night at the Canadian Embassy started with a performance of ‘Kinds of Caves and Wholes and Parts’ complemented by a rendition of “La Vie en Rose” by Serena Lee. The overall performance was supported by a presentation of pictures of a random cat in an office. It was quite unexpected but enjoyable. Then the performance was followed by the Marshall McLuhan lecture given by Jody Berland titled ‘Extending McLuhan’s post-humanism: ‘Feeling The Techno-Animal Embrace’ where she discussed the link between the media of the animal, the link between media technology and post-humanism. That presentation also contained many pictures of cats.


A significant part of Transmediale 2019 concentrated on workshops. Mostly digital-related lectures and seminars and also activity-based events. But “CryptoRave” was a popular favourite among the students. 

CryptoRave was a collectively organised party via the blockchain. It’s the most exclusive party you’ll ever go to. To get into the party you had to mine your ticket through the special link provided by the organisers of the event. But it wasn’t that simple. After one hour of mining you would just unlock a secret location of the party, after four hours your new rave life identity, after 5 your personalised list of crypto-related literature and so on. To unlock the full set you had to mine cryptocurrency for 11 hours. But it was totally worth it. The question here is why is this a workshop? In addition to anarchy of the party, you have to learn something about cryptocurrency. For this reason, your rave identity comes with a reading list. It turns into an explosive brew.

About Karolina Janicka

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