Transmediale :: Linda Wallace

31st January – 8th February, 2003 :: Berlin, Germany

Berlin’s transmediale, according to artistic director Andreas Broeckman is Europe’s most significant media festival. So to have my work eurovision nominated for the Image Award, one of three works from an international field of over 600 was quite an honour.

The ANAT assistance enabled me to travel to Berlin to attend, and festival organisers had garnered sponsorship from the Australian Embassy for my hotel.

The event itself was an intense week of screenings, exhibitions and panel discussions. Most of this took place in the Hausder Kulturen der Welt (House of World Culture), central to everything but close to nothing. As it was mainly snowing outside, I mainly stayed inside – a warm space teeming with curious life forms.

All the nominees for the Image Award were happy to socialise together – myself, a Spanish animator Juan F. Romero, and the 242.pilots, four VJ/sound men who jet in from all corners of the globe and do live sound/image performances.

The judges for the award said this of their task: …”The starting point for the jurying of the ‘Image’ category for this year’s prize, the search for ‘innovative contributions to the development of moving images in the age of the digital, interactive and network based media’ can hardly be translated into a pragmatic series of criteria for judging or even classification, based on actual competition entries. The expansion of the notion of the image has made the fixing and demarcating of the visual, if only hypothetically, much more complicated.

Globalisation is prevalent in the language of the visual as our terms of reference and knowledge become similar. Our historical trust in the image as arbiter of truth is satirised through re-appropriation, the ‘appearance of authenticity’ becomes a software filter and truth or the quest for it has been transferred from the image itself to its means of production and dissemination. Images have become a complex language of related knowledges requiring understanding of the context, knowledge of histories, politics, technological developments and possibilities. But the resonance of images is so powerful and so appealing to our physiological attraction to visual beauty; rhythm and our intrigue with space and time still elicit a gut reaction rather than solely a cerebral response.

For this reason, the discussion about the entries focussed on the question of the positioning of an image, not stylistically oraesthetically, but rather within its cultural context – to what extent can a kind of ‘politics of the signifier’ (Benjamin Buchloh) appear? Above all, this locus of the image, the starting point of its circulation and meaning production, is at the centre of what needs to be constructed”.

Of eurovision they said; “eurovision takes the Eurovision Song Contest out of the year 2000, a topos of the European popular culture, as the starting point for a general research about the different image cultures of television, video and film and juxtaposes this in a stringent image organisation whereby a number of arguments and contexts are placed side by side. Above all, the jury was convinced by the sovereignty of this ‘montage’ and the stringent content of the reference material”.

There were five honorable mentions in the Image Award category, including works by Coco Fusco and Lev Manovich. The242.pilots won the Image Award. There were two other award categories, Interaction (for which there were no nominations just honorable mentions) and the Software Award with two nominations and five honorables.

All the videos selected for screenings were projected but also they were collated onto seven different DVD’s, and these could be watched at the seven viewing hubs in a main foyer area. Also here were terminals with the interactive and networks screens. This was a good place to chill on a hotly contested beanbag, as was the bar/food area. The whole event was of course intensely social, with people represented from all over the new media realm.

While the transmediale had an incredible range of work to be seen, I also had time to visit a major retrospective of the work of Austrian artist Valie Export. This was really one of the highlights of the short trip to Berlin, to see the scope of this artist’s work and the way she used such a diverse range of media as her material over decades of practice, beginning in the mid-1950’s.

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