Between Kickstarter Communism and Queer Net Critique: Transmediale 2018 shituanalytic art review

Between all the content and all the critique and all the performativity and transmediality, between the comfort and discomfort, the noise and the tension, two experiences may serve very well to illustrate Transmediale festival 2018 in Berlin.

One would be Jonathan Beller trying to recuperate the blockchain euphoria from the capitalist tech bros in the Keynote lecture, by describing the blockchain as a financial tool for the movement. It had the sour aftertaste of a communist kickstarter, all fundraising will be in a crypto cloud, financial speculation will be on the collective efforts that are speculative themselves.

A radically renamed keynote (“Derivative Living” to “Platform Communism”), opening a pandora’s box on blockchain as a specific economy. Jonathan Beller was going full crypto-contracts in his proposal for a new economic plan for an artful collaborative living: qualitative finance against synthetic finance & colonial extraction & media as an extension of finance (i.e. advanced culture industry). One audience member warned of this formalism as a fetish and points at the limits of contracts per se. Another audience member picked up on this and warned about what the techno-futurist standardisation will mean again for violence against black bodies.

Then there was also a key artwork that can serve as a contrasting point to the blockchain tech phantasies, namely from the side of net critique, in a gender-queering update of this critical tradition by Zach Blas.

In Blas’ videoroom an avatar called Nootropix was plowing the net with her neon dick in 2033 while Ayn Rand from 1955 and Azuma from 2017 are watching. The work was called Jubilee 2033. The grande finale was the network bursting finally into crystal pieces, opening the unimaginable: life after the internet.

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