transmediale 2020. End to End || until March 1, 2020
Networks are everywhere, whether personal or organizational, for social or business life, centralized or decentralized: node-based communication and information exchange has arguably become the defining technological, economic, and cultural form of globalization and the digital society. A certain network idealism permeates the globe, resulting in all forms of networks and networking practices being mainly defined through the techno-bureaucratic master form of the Internet. Already in 1967 the artists Robert Filliou and George Brecht wrote that “The Network is Everlasting”. The line is taken from a pre-Internet culture poem celebrating the interconnectedness of everyday-life actions across an emerging global world. This poetic imagining of an “eternal network” is a reminder that network cultures exist beyond the technical reality of the “actually existing” network culture as we now know it.
Inspired by this pre-Internet idea of networks, transmediale 2020 – End to End focuses on both forgotten and potential futures with and without networks. Leaving behind a decade marked by a backlash against the Internet and the network society, transmediale aims at a comprehensive re-evaluation of networks and their limits. The history of European Critical Internet Cultures that emerged in the 1990s serves as a starting point: Together with a series of other global experiments in autonomous networking they consistently provided alternatives to the technological solutionist thinking and centralized business models of Silicon Valley.
By drawing on the legacies of critical and autonomous network cultures transmediale 2020 not only wants to make the limits of Internet-based networks visible but also highlight alternatives to bring about sustainable social change. Is there a conceivable counter-power to networks? Which alternative technological models and cultural narratives are needed to construct the principles of end-to-end communication anew? In the upcoming festival edition these questions will be explored through a month-long group exhibition which will present new artistic works that both refute and reform networks, and an opening week full of talks, workshops, screenings, and performances.