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Monthly Archives: May 2008

Visit to Transmediale Berlin February 2006. A retrospective report by Scylla Magda.

With thanks to  VIVID, a media arts exhibition and production space in Birmingham who raised funding from ACE for a group of curators and artists from the West Midlands to attend this festival.

Impressions and digressions related to this trip:

The parts of this visit to Transmeidal which I enjoyed most were the partnership events,  and other interesting activities which took place on the periphery of the festival. Antenna out, connections were there to be made, past and present, leading to some particularly inspiring  spaces within which creativity was happening. 

One presentation I enjoyed  was about a project called Moblab . This involved seven artists from Japan and Germany, who in 2005, traveled to Japan in a converted and technologically augmented public bus, to explore the use of mobile digital technology for their artistic practice.

 I had been drawn to attend this presentation, as it resonated with experiences of my own. In the early 80’s, Bobby and I used to attend the Temporary Autonomous Zone that was the  Stonehenge free festival. (until the Battle of the Beanfield put a stop to it). After immersing ourselves in this anarchic settlement for  a few weeks each year, we used to watch the convoy – the all year round travelers, setting off in their trucks and buses to wherever they could set up camp next, and we always felt a huge pull to join them. What stopped us was our involvement in music,  we were both in bands at the time,  were young and fairly ambitious, and we had the sense that joining the convoy meant dropping out and loosing touch with all that was current. We had already noticed how this could happen on our trips to Wales, where we came into contact with an older generation of hippies, who had moved out of London in the 60s. Although impressed by their idyllic living locations, it was noticeable (at least from our perspective)  that they had lost touch with musical developments

The Molab was a reminder of how much has changed since then, and that in these days of technological connectivity, living a transitory lifestyle  no longer need mean dropping out or losing connection with which ever  world wide community of artists working in similar areas, one might wish to remain connected to.

( We now in fact own a converted Dodge 50, and a bowtop caravan, handbuilt by John Snow,  and although currently living in a rather nice house in Birmingham, are seriously considering it …one day)

From this talk, I was led to the next point of interest, as at the end they announced that they would be giving a music performance later that night at a place called M12. They mentioned that it was hard to find, and sure enough,  it took me at least an hour of wandering in circles around Alexanderplatz before I eventually located it, in the unlikely setting of a shopping center reminiscent of the old Bullring in Birmingham. What had formerly been a shop had been  transformed into an AV presentation / performance space, with 45 small hi fi speakers installed around  the room, a bar and various other artistic touches in place.  

Although I arrived just as the show was ending, I was intrigued enough with the space to return the next day to find out more about who was behind it. This turned out to be artists collective Visomat inc , and I met one of their members Torsten.

He told me that, aside from having previously run Berlin’s first fully automated bar, they had  also formed a label for contemporary audio-video content. whose first DIN AV release I had bought in 2004. Naturally there was a point of connection here, and so I gave him a copy of our Modulate 5.1 DVD, which he subsequently showcased at M12  a few months later.

 The next space which I found very inspiring was the Tesla, an artists residency and project development space, occupying a grand ex (East German) government building. It looked like a fantastic place to do a residency, with around half a dozen artists having a large studio space in the big old rooms. There was also a central a cafe/ bar / meeting space which was open to the public to drop by & meet the artists in informal ‘Salons’  once a week.

As a partnership event with Transmedial, Tesla  presented an ‘open studio’ evening, and a performance of a work that had recently been developed as part of a residency project there. 

Entitled ‘ Kubic’s Cube ‘ this featured a collaboration between Spanish choreographer Pablo Ventura , Canadian robotic expert Louis Phillip Demers, and Spanish sound artist Francisco Lopez. Together they  had created a robot sculpture,  choreographed to ‘dance’ in synch with a multi-channel sound-environment,  composed by Lopez.

The robot was impressive, particularly the shadows it threw, however it was the monumental, powerful, audio which made the most impact. This was the first time I had heard of Francisco Lopez, or his music, and a couple of days later I sought out his solo performance ‘Total Darkness’ which he gave  early in the evening at the Transmedial club – it was awesome, and on returning to Birmingham I set about raising the funding to bring him over here, something I achieved in 2007.

I was also inspired to try and instigate the development of the small warehouse space, in which Modulate then had a studio space, into a project development and artists residency space along the lines of the Tesla. This idea began to take shape throughout 2007: Modulate hosted residencies by Solu and Damain Frey, and held a series of Sonic Culture Salons, while architechts Spacelab  (whom I knew from Oscillate days when they were students in Birmgham and came to our club), drew up some inspired plans …however we were evicted in 2008, and this particular dream evaporated Plenty more left though, and it was good while it lasted.

Outcomes – summary
Modulate dvd showcased at M12 Berlin 2006 Francisco Lopez invited to give a Total Darkness performance in Birmingham 2007
Temporary artist residency/ production space/facilitated in Birmingham 2007