Review: Transmediale 2014

29 January – 2 February 2014

Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany

 

“Welcome to your new NSA partner network” – Receiving this message is the evidence that your mobile phone has been hacked. PRISM, by Danja Vasiliev and Julian Oliver at Transmediale 2014, projected visitor’s mobile phone information – username, hostname and IP address, and delivered the above welcome SMS message.

Transmediale 2014’s theme was “Afterglow”. In response to the leak of NSA intelligence by Edward Snowden, it points out that once utopian net system is globally disseminated, our data will become the base of mass surveillance. Unfortunately but interestingly, PRISM, the best example of this year’s festival, was shut down midway through the exhibition by the Transmediale’s technical contractor, because it was infringing visitors’ privacy. It naturally makes us wish for this kind of hero, but who really is the friend of justice?
The final day event, “Internet Black Market”, a flea market commodities and services associated with the keyword “Internet” were sold, was also significant: the real communication clearly meant the deviation from the mass surveillance network. At the market you can find hand-writing-spam-mails (Katsuki Nogami), framed Porn binary data (Akihiko Taniguchi), USB memory snow globes revealing NSA data leak (Jens U. Jorgensen), credit card PINs (Terrorbyte.org.), amongst many items. This convivial black market bore an anarchic aspect as shown in Nukeme’s “Glitch Embroidery” with the famous Internet company logos, or John Wild’s “Fingerprint mould”.
Displaying the attitude toward questioning the force of the Internet/digital realm, this year’s Transmediale was stunning – just on the modern history in Berlin where two regimes crashed.
27 February 2014

Kodama Kanazawa