CTM.13: The Golden Age report

Berlin’s Club Transmediale has been one of Europe’s leading destinations for creative encounters in cutting-edge technology, art and music for more than a decade now. Is it still going strong? Here’s our short and lo-fi photo overview of this year’s festival highlights

Mykki Blanco kingpinning with the crowd at CTM 13 / All photos by Lazara Marinkovic

Being a member of the doomed Serbian generation who had the honour of living in four different states without ever actually moving anywhere (remember the breakup of Yugoslavia?) it is a great deal to finally be able to travel and see the world at it’s “Golden Age”.

So after resolving all the troubles with Serbian online banking system and online payment for the airplane ticket and the press accreditation fee, I impatiently hit the road with great anticipations.

Having only a couple of days to spend, I head straight to Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, one of the festival venues hosting the central CTM.13 Exhibition apropriately named “In that Weird Age” – featuring a number of presentations, discussions, screenings and workshops that provided an opportunity for various media researchers to get involved with some of the most interesting music projects around.

Chinese cats in the music lab!

Lucas Abela’s “Vinyl Rally” (2009).

Cyriak Harris’ videos screening. Must admit, kinda empty and uninteresting. One of the festival organisers said just before the screening that the author hates traveling so he couldn’t come. Oh yeah, and you can see all his works on YouTube which raised a question – what’s the point of showing someone’s (old) work that anyone can find on the Internet plus you don’t even get a chance for a discussion with the artist? And also, if this is the Golden Age, why in the hell are we watching videos more than 3 years old? Beats me.

Stumbling through the hallways, the booklet shelf caught my eye – oh look, ImprovE 2.0 sticker! Nice to see a familiar… logo printed on a piece of paper. Hopefully, these guys will make their debut on CTM in the future years of the post-Golden Age.

Cats! Not only that they rule the Internet, they also rocked the Bethanien. “In That Weird Part” (2012), a CTM selection of found Youtube videos that are dealing with pop music editing in internet culture, exploring questions of copyright issues, hyperproduction of memes and transformations that generated a new aesthetics due to online content recycling.

There was also a kitschy digital art piece. Tabor Robak “Terminator” (2010). A nice visual intro for ‘Forever New Frontiers’ night at Berghain.

This is not just a photo of Club Mate, it’s also a photo of dazzling crowd after TM404 uber cool debut set (a unique live project from Andreas Tilliander, aka Mokira), who makes music live using a couple of MC-202s and 606s, a 707, an 808 and no less than four 303 vintage Roland sequencers.

Almost as wicked as Diamond Version performance. (alva noto and Byetone)

Diamond Version – Atsuhiro Ito, playing his modified fluorescent tube used as a sound source (the so-called instrument which he christened the Optron). It actually looks like a regular neon tube that generates sound when you get it close to this small machine standing in front of mister Ito.

Visually spectacular performance of Diamond Version and Atsuhiro Ito. But overall and with all do respect – alva noto and Byetone, the true and genuine musical heroes, sound much better and more danceable without those semi-theatrical solo sequences of a neon tube.

Somehow, this party made me lose my mind, so while trying to get home – I somehow got lost in the public transportation too.

When you get lost in the U-Bahn in the night, KIOSK might be your only comfort and hope.

And speaking of hope, another highlight of CTM.13 was the amazing Terre Thaemlitz talk moderated by the Electronic Beats guy (aka EB editor Max Dax), held at HAU 2.
Beside being the creator of Soulnessless, the longest mp3 album (32+ hours), Terre Thaemlitz is one of the most brilliant minds on this planet, a public speaker and theorist deconstructing identity politics through the medium of music, who candidly pointed out that the world we live in is “hopeless. doomed. everything is shit. no hope”. Oh yes, and I almost forgot – “fuck hope”. And for someone like myself, coming from a troubled Balkan country where basic human rights concerning cultural, national and gender identity issues are constantly jeopardized, it’s possible to connect with Terre’s statement on so many levels.

Cloud pillows for Terre Thaemlitz talk and concert.

HAU 2.

OMG it’s Tijana T and Marcell Mars, (most likely) the only CTM.13 speaker coming from the Balkans. Marcell held a lecture on his research project “Ruling Class Studies”, whose aim is to produce critical theoretical instruments to measure the political, ethical and professional accountability of Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay (aka GFAeB) to their proclaimed missions, advertised practices and to a world where their monopolies are taking root. Watch out for our upcoming Q&A with Marcell.

Meanwhile, The Golden Age tote bag became a key fashion item.

Jumping to the most expected festival night – STATTBAD music night. Beside headliners like Greco-Roman Soundsystem, Anika, Simian Mobile Disco and Alex Empire, the most expected dark star of the night was Mykki Blanco.

Illuminati Princess and ‘Cosmic Angel’, hip-hop music industry gender-bender from NY, raw and uncut next big superstar, rapping at the smokey and overcrowded Stattbad Wedding on #GHASHTAG stage.

In a way, it was an honour to see Mykki while he’s still fabulously-underground and perceived as a ‘cutting edge’ artist – before he becomes a high fashion world toy and a MTV-profile performer.

So thank you CTM. Good bye and thanks for all the fish. And see you next year.