‘a model, a map, a fiction’ – transmediale 2023

by Annalisa Giacinti // Jan. 17, 2023

A world fractured and pieced together again through technological scaling practices—think smartphone screens, models, maps—and new geographical configurations is the theme underpinning transmediale 2023, titled ‘a model, a map, a fiction.’ Organised this year by a curatorial team with Artistic Director Nora O Murchú at its head, the annual art and digital culture festival continues an over 30-year tradition of bringing together international artists, researchers, activists and thinkers with the aim of seeding new perspectives on the impacts of technology. Visitors can expect an array of discussions, performances, exhibitions and innovative public programmes—most notably an inaugural city-wide exhibition, ‘Out of Scale’— exploring a variety of concepts through combined digital and lived experience. Throughout its previous 35 editions, the festival has become a magnet for an active, engaged international community interested in art, digital and post-digital culture, as well as theory, making it a worldwide leader in the media arts.

CGI image of  a fantasy landscape

transmediale 2023, graphic design by Bárbara Acevedo Strange

This year’s 36th edition of transmediale finds its headquarters at Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg from February 1-5, and focuses on how scale conditions relations, affects and politics that fracture the world only to fashion hierarchies out of its splinters. On January 31, the ‘Marshall McLuhan Lecture 2023,’ held in cooperation with the Embassy of Canada, will prelude the festival with a presentation by researcher and writer Svitlana Matviyenko and professor Nabil Ahmed, who will delve into the politics of cyberwar and energy terrorism within the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine. On the following night, transmediale will officially take off with the exhibition ‘Or So It Seems,’ a collaborative exchange between artists Alan Butler and Simone C Niquille that explores the technical and socio-political implications of computer-vision technologies. In addition, the festival will include a presentation of several artistic interventions installed across the entire building of Akademie der Künste, as well as an evening of music featuring a lineup of performers and DJs.

CGI image of two cartoon-like bunnies walking through a rocky landscape

Simone C Niquille: ‘duckrabbit.tv,’ 2023, production stills // Courtesy of the Artist

Since 2020 transmediale has established a residency programme in collaboration with partner institutions Pro Helvetia, Chile, University of the Arts Berlin, and the Berlin Senate for Culture and Europe. In 2022 over ten residents were invited to examine how scale impacts the technological conditions we live in. Some of these projects will be showcased for the first time among a variety of artistic interventions at the festival. Among them is visual artist Elisa Balmaceda’s ‘Líneas de poder /// Powerlines’ (2023), which she developed over the residency as a challenge to dominant energetic extractive economies. The work draws on her personal research on solar and geomagnetic data. A sure Instagram highlight will be Neïl Beloufa’s ‘Host B trying to reach out to its audience’ (2022), an animated interactive sculpture with which the audience can take selfies. With this new work Beloufa questions assumed divisions between reality and simulation to address issues ranging from digital surveillance and data collection to power relations and nationalistic ideologies.

A glowing yellow sculpture

Neïl Beloufa: ‘Host B trying to reach out to its audience,’ 2022 // Courtesy of the Artist

Alongside the main event transmediale will introduce ‘Out of Scale,’ a free citywide exhibition featuring works from over twenty international and Berlin-based artists distributed across eBay Kleinanzeigen, Tempelhofer Feld, transmediale warehouse, the U-Bahn and Berlin’s Spätis. In many of these iconic late night shops it will be possible to purchase a ‘Data Dump Wundertüte,’ a €4.99 USB stick full of artworks such as Sabrina Ratté’s ‘Terraforma’ (2022), a video that is part of a series of animated landscapes created using satellite data, or Lorna Mills’ ‘History of Compost’ (2022), a collection of animated GIF collages. Conceived as a way of challenging the optimised image of the city generated by algorithmic processes and disrupting our reliance on its organisation, ‘Out of Scale’ enquires into cases of environmental ruin, bio-surveillance politics, anti-colonial resistance and other-than-human identities, so as to reimagine the city anew.

a production still featuring a man standing in the wilderness with a microphone in the rain, wearing a yellow rain jacket

Alan Butler: ‘Unnecessary Journeys,’ 2023, production still // Courtesy of the Artist

Festival Info


‘a model, a map, a fiction’
Feb. 1-5, 2023
Admission: Check website for availability
Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg 10, 10557 Berlin, click here for map

Group Show: ‘Or So It Seems’
Opening Reception: Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023; 7pm
Feb. 1-26, 2023

Svitlana Matviyenko: ‘Nuclear Cyberwar: Speeds and Vectors of Energy Terrorism’
Tuesday, Jan. 31; 7pm
Marshall McLuhan Lecture
Embassy of Canada, Leipziger Platz 17, 10117 Berlin click here for map

Expanded Programme
‘Out of Scale’
Jan. 26-Feb. 26, 2023
Various Venues: eBay Kleinanzeigen, Tempelhofer Feld, transmediale warehouse, the U-Bahn, and Spätis (Spätkauf / Getränkepoint, Heros-Nightshop, Spätkauf – Minimarkt, Home Shop und Drink, The City Kiosk, KiezKiosk, Drinks & Bottles, Multi-Kulti Shop, Kiez Shop, Tempo Spätkauf)

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