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Culture

Transmediale Goes Public

The international media art festival, transmediale, opens its doors this week to the public in Berlin. Organizers say the popularity of the event shows how interconnected electronic art is in every day life.

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transmediale - where the private goes public

Under the motto "Go Public!", the transmediale invited visitors to take a look into the vast and exciting world of electronic media. This is the 15th year for the event and the most highly publicized and successful so far.

The festival, held in Berlin’s House of World Cultures until February 10, is designed to increase the public’s awareness for the role of media and electronic art in every day life. Through interactive installations, video screenings and public workshops, visitors will get a feel for what the ever-changing medium is capable of.

At the opening ceremony on Tuesday, US Secretary for Art and Technology Randall M. Packer announced, "In no time has there been a more important festival."

And with sweeping pathos, Packer acknowledged the important role of electronic media in the future, "Virtualization remains the greatest power on earth."

Go public

The festival’s organizers say that in the digital era the private sphere is becoming increasingly more public. In the context of the new economy, a company’s financial figures and personnel decisions are "public information". In politics, in law, in science, the public has a right to know what’s going on.

In electronic media, this demand for more openness has led to progressive, sometimes even aggressive, media practices.

The mass media are multiplying their channels and homogenizing their contents, say the transmediale organizers. Democratic online forums, the establishment of niche media, the development of new technologies and the expansion of public surveillance via video and online data bases are all leading to the creation of a global info-sphere with new boundaries and changing rules.

And with its motto "Go Public!", the festival urges media artists to be public about their works, to create public works, and to work with the public to develop new ideas for the use of the public space in the digital era.

Public art

On display are works in the three core categories, "Image", "Interaction" and "Software". For the festival’s competition over 800 entries were sent in, 16 of which will be awarded prizes of 5,000 euro each. All of the nominated works are on display in the festival’s exhibit space or for screening in the media lounge.

An extra exhibit will also focus on the current media landscape in Berlin with examples from the various international media present in the capital city.

Together with the German Center for Political Education, transmediale hosts several conferences on the role of electronic media in public opinion forming. A lecture on February 7 with the editor-in-chief of the Arabian broadcaster Al Jazeera will address the influence of media on globalization issues and world order.

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