#094 Nov/Dec 2003



ISSN 1488-3635 #94, November-December 2003


* ISEA News
* ISEA2004 Update by the ISEA2004 Team
* Message from the ISEA Board by Nina Czegledy, Board Chair
* "Berlin - After the fall" Introduction by Vali Djordjevic & Diana McCarty
* "Berlin Art Scene - Stagnation And New Beginnings" by Ariane Beyn
* "Electronic Culture in Berlin" by Alexandra Essl
* "Electronic music and clubs in Berlin" by Atilano Gonzalez

by Angela Plohman, ISEA Coordinating Director

As you may have noticed, it has been some time since our last
newsletter. To our regret, we were unable to publish an ISEA Newsletter
this autumn, however we are extremely pleased to make up for our absence
with this latest edition, ISEA Newsletter #94, guest edited by Vali
Djordjevic & Diana McCarty, with a special focus on Berlin, Germany.
This issue brings you unique perspectives on the local art scenes, clubs
and electronic culture, with generous contributions by Ariane Beyn,
Alexandra Essl, and Atilano Gonzalez.

We would like to remind all ISEA members that we are always looking for
guest editors for the ISEA Newsletter. If you are interested in editing
an upcoming issue of the ISEA Newsletter focused on your region, please
contact ISEA HQ. All guest editors receive a complimentary one-year
membership to ISEA.

Happy holidays and thank you for your continued support of ISEA in 2004!

-- ISEA News

The Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts (ISEA) is extremely pleased to
announce that the Thirteenth International Symposium on Electronic Art
(ISEA2006) will be held in San Jose, California, USA. After careful
evaluation of the four exceptionally strong bids received through an
open call for proposals, the ISEA Board unanimously decided to accept
the proposal submitted by the San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau in
collaboration with the City of San Jose; San Jose State University CADRE
Institute; San Jose Museum of Art; ZeroOne: The Art and Technology
Network; the Tech Museum of Innovation; and Cultural Initiatives Silicon
Valley. Steve Dietz, former Curator of New Media at the Walker Art
Center in Minneapolis, will act as ISEA2006 Symposium Director. More at 

We would like to announce that ISEA has a new policy of calendar-year
memberships, effective immediately. We are confident that this new
policy will make it easier to renew and keep track of your ISEA
membership. Current members will receive renewal notices by email before
the end of the year. In addition, we would like to announce the return
of ISEA Associate Memberships for those unable to pay the full
membership fee. And don't forget that ISEA also offers student and
senior discounts. Please do not hesitate to contact ISEA HQ for more

We are pleased to announce our continued partnerships with Digital
Creativity, Leonardo and Mediamatic. 2004 subscription discount forms for 
ISEA members, for Leonardo and Digital Creativity, are now available through

ISEA2004 Update
by the ISEA2004 Team

Plans for ISEA2004 are progressing well. The event, to be held in Stockholm,
Tallinn, Helsinki and on a ferry from 14 - 22 August, 2004, is the first
time that an ISEA has been held across three countries and this has provided
for a great deal of interest and a few challenges.

ISEA has traditionally been programmed by an International Programming
Committee (IPC).  For ISEA2004, The Committee is Chaired by Tapio MŠkelŠ,
the Chair for Helsinki and the overall event.  The Committee  comprises 41
internationally recognised leaders in their field selected in part by the
local organisers and in part by the Inter-Society for Electronic Art. (See
below for a full list of IPC members.)

We have been delighted to received some 1,400 proposals through the two
closing dates in February and September. All submissions were done via our
website using a web form and stored into a database. This procedure allowed
us to have the proposals reviewed by IPC members online.  Proposals were
assessed in the thematic areas determined for the project:  Networked
Experience, Wearable Experience, Wireless Experience, Histories of the New,
Critical Interaction Design, Open Source and Software as Culture,
Geopolitics of Media and Interfacing Sound (in collaboration with Koneisto
Festival for Electronic Music and Arts <http://www.koneisto.com>).

Tapio, along with the other Programme Chairs, Peter Hagdahl (Stockholm) and
Mare Tralla (Tallinn), has been working over the last weeks on developing
the shortlist of proposals following the IPC evaluations.
Artists will be notified of the results in early January and the highlights
programme for the event will be launched in February 2004.

We have now secured a ferry which will be entirely dedicated to ISEA2004
participants for three days of travel and programming.  We are very excited
about this adventure.  Details will be announced in January.
Keep your eye out on the ISEA2004 web site for updates.  And make sure you
book your ferry tickets early!  Sales will start in February!

Best regards for the Festive Season and a good start to the New Year!
The ISEA2004 team

ISEA2004 International Programming Committee

Networked Experience: Peter Hagdahl (Chair), Geert Lovink,  Steve Dietz,
Cecilia Andersson,  Rejane Spitz,  Irina Aristarkhova,  Christiane Paul

Wearable Experience: Mare Tralla (Chair), Sabine Seymour, Iliyana Nedkova,
Lisa Moren, Andrew Chetty

Wireless Experience: Tapio Makela (Chair), Machiko Kusahara, Gunalan
Nadarajan, Matt Locke, Eunhye Chung, Nalini Kotamraju

Histories of the New: Tapio Makela (Chair), Maria Ferndandez, Erkki Huhtamo,
Andres Burbano, Naomi Matsunaga, Ana Peraica

Interfacing Sound: Tapio Makela (Chair), Chris Csikszentmih‡lyi, Rasa Smite,
Michael Century, Norie Neumark

Open Source and software as culture: Graham Harwood (Chair), Anne Nigten,
Juha Huuskonen, Miller Puckette, Ryszard W. Kluszczynski

Critical Interaction Design: Minna Tarkka (Chair), Sara Ilstedt Hjelm,
Natalie Jeremijenko, Paul Dourish, Greg Garvey

Geopolitics of Media: Mare Tralla (Chair), Eric Kluitenberg, Fatima Lasay,
Nancy Adajania, Artur Matuck

Message from the ISEA Board
by Nina Czegledy, ISEA Board Chair

This note is posted from Helsinki, where preparations for ISEA2004 are 
advanced. In addition to the strong bids for future symposia, it is a 
source of pride that 1400 completed submissions (in all categories) have 
been received for next summer. The shortlist of accepted submissions is now
being finalized, results to be posted soon. We sincerely hope for a large 
crowd of participants in all three cities, where museums, galleries, 
conference venues, organizations, academics, artists and the general public 
are getting ready to receive us. I hope to see you all on the ISEA ferry
boat next summer!

Congratulations to the San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau and 
collaborating organizations for the strong and successful bid for ISEA2006.
Sincere thanks are due to the short listed applicants for their efforts and 
impressive submissions.

On behalf of the ISEA Board, I would like to wish you all a Happy Holiday 
Season and New Year.

- Nina Czegledy
ISEA Board Chair

Berlin - After the fall
Introduction by Vali Djordjevic & Diana McCarty

The city of Berlin [1] has an illustrious past, full of social and economic
upheavals, extreme political changes, and wars - all of which have marked the
urban landscape. The boom and bust cycles with their monumental destruction
and rebuilding projects are well known. In recent years, much of Berlin's
attention and economic resources were devoted to reunification; massive
projects like the reconstruction of Potsdamer Platz, and the renovation of
Mitte & Prenzlauer Berg took place primarily in the East. Prior to the
political changes of the late 80's, both East and West Berlin had active
cultural scenes. In the West, an eclectic youth developed an alternative
lifestyle of squatted houses, bars and arts spaces. Few had financial
worries as relocating from other cities had economic benefits. Districts
like Kreuzberg saw squatters living among a large Turkish and Kurdish
population. In the East, a thriving underground Punk scene and living room
poetry readings were part of the cultural life. After the political changes,
the city was transformed once more. Cheap rents, government subsidies and
open minds gave rise to a city rich in cultural capital. Part fact, part
fiction, the Berlin of the late 80's and early 90's did offer many people
the chance to realize dreams.

Nowadays, the situation is quite different. On the square in front of the
Hackescher Markt station there are often groups of students gathering around
mobile blackboards or pillars with maps of far away countries. Some of them
hand out leaflets to the passers-by protesting against the city council
plans to cut down university budgets. The German capital can't afford
education for its young people anymore. But these are not the only public
services to be cut down; the prices for public pools tripled during the last
two years, child-care fees will double next year, public parks are not
maintained due to a lack of funds. Berlin is in a crisis. 50 billion Euros
in debt, no other city in Germany is as broke as the capital.

Berlin is, in many instances, not your typical western capital. With an
unemployment rate of 17.3 percent (that is nearly 300.000 people), it
clearly belongs to the eastern part of Germany. The average unemployment
rate in the country is about 10 percent or about 4 million people, but these
numbers are not distributed evenly: in the former western republics, only 8
percent are without work compared to more than 17 percent in the former east
[1]. In Berlin you can add a corrupt political class and and the
accompanying bank scandal [2]. The result is a bankrupt city.

So the spending power is low. It is not as easy as it was to find a job that
would pay the bills and still allow spare time to make culture ƒ… be it
digital or analogue. Things looked good in the middle of the nineties.
Hundreds of small companies set up shop and wanted to get rich fast, selling
their knowledge. Information seemed to be a valuable good. Then came the
fall, like everywhere else. For Berlin, it was worse as there was no
traditional economy to compensate for it.

The rents are still cheap and in some areas, even falling. In the adjoining
districts of Berlin-Mitte (Center) many small artists and designer groups
are renting shops for low rent and  can organize exhibitions and events. But
the glamour is gone. It is difficult to make art if you have to worry about
paying the rent. Berlin has to take care that it won't lose the last
capital it still has ƒ… the people.

Of course, there are plenty of events in Berlin. Large scale
international events like the Berlinale garner media attention and attract
large audiences to see the films or go star searching at Potsdamer Platz.
The Berlin Biennial fills Mitte art galleries and institutions to bursting
with artists and art fans. Then there is the Berlin Art Fair, which keeps up
its attempt to make an impact on the international art scene. Popkomm,  a
large music fair, formerly based in Cologne is also moving to Berlin.
Smaller events like Urban Drift, markeB and the club transmediale offer more
intimate venues for local and international works in music, architecture and
electronic culture.  For the new media crowd the main event of the year is
the transmediale festival [3]. This year it flies under the banner "Fly
Utopia" and intends to examine "the power of utopian ideas in an age
dominated by the dreams, horrors and frustrations of science and
technology." Antonio Negri as the keynote speaker surely will add to this
motto and attract a diverse audience.

Transmediale's now not so new location is the former Congress Hall [4].
Since 2000, it takes place in this extraordinary location reminiscent of an
alien spaceship coming directly from the pulp novels of the 40s and 50s.
Built in 1957 by the American architect Hugh Stubbins, it was a gift from
the American government to the city of west-Berlin, sending a signal about
the American intention to spread its ideas of freedom and democracy in the
world. For the building to be seen in east Berlin ƒ… the Wall just a few
hundred meters away -  an artificial mound was erected.

After the building collapsed in the beginning of the 80s, burying a
journalist and inspiring the name of the German post-Punk band Einst—ššende
Neubauten, it was reconstructed and now accommodates the House of World
Cultures, dedicated to the task to bring international arts and culture to

In spite of the economic woes, Berlin is still a thriving city where
theater, poetry, literature and even opera find an audience. The following
texts provide an overview of what the local art scenes, clubs and electronic
culture have to offer.

[1] http://www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/bauen/wanderungen/index_en.shtml
[2] http://www.arbeitsamt.de/hst/services/statistik/berlin/index.html [german]
[3] http://www.berliner-bankenskandal.de/ [german]
[4] http://www.transmediale.de/
[5] http://www.hkw.de/

Vali Djordjevic and Diana McCarty live and work in Berlin. They are active
on the fringes of art and media. Djordjevic is free lance journalist and
member of mikro.org. McCarty is a freelance producer and member of

Berlin Art Scene - Stagnation And New Beginnings
Ariane Beyn

Looking back at last year, it is difficult to say which art events best
deserve the label 'highlight'. Instead, stagnation or defeat seems to have
dominated the general situation in Berlin; due to energy consuming struggles
of survival or to surfeit is sometimes hard to tell.

A recent example was the foreseeable run down of Berlin's art fair [6],
which was founded in the early recuperation of the art market in 1996,
despite Berlin's much-discussed lack of solvent art collectors.
Subsequently, bad management, the city going bankrupt with a corrupt
property deal, and, after failed attempts to pull forces together, a limited
willingness of many Berlin-based galleries to collaborate, left this year's
fair further away than ever from its ambitious initial concept: to stake a claim on
the potential of Berlin's attractive 'young and experimental art scene' and
on the networks of the galleries to win international galleries, collectors,
and curators for a small, but first-rate young fair. In 2003, the larger
part of the formerly 'young', today internationally successful Berlin-based
galleries dropped the "Art Forum Berlin" altogether. In this crucial
situation, the fair organization showed little imagination and failed to
'strike back.' For example, by filling the gap with local art projects or
project spaces. Only a few weeks after a mediocre, highly conventional
program had taken over at the "Art Forum", the core of Berlin's galleries
debuted on a large scale at a competing fair in London, set up by
"Frieze" art magazine. Here, also the Berlin-based artists Klaus Weber, Tino
Sehgal or Monica Bonvicini with B—š Friedrich, Berlin, presented works in

The notion of an "art scene" shifts with London's situation, where on a
Sunday thousands pour into the New Tate to see a work by Olafur Eliasson
after it was reproduced on the frontpages of most English newspapers. In
Berlin, a leisure-time audience for contemporary art is only slowly growing
into visibility. Newspapers never headline with contemporary art and even
though awards were distributed, the media still do not consider visual
artists to be pop-stars. In today's specific situation, Berlin's museums
would definitely profit from a slight redefinition of their focus group
towards the so-called 'art scene'. Too often, ambitious museum exhibitions
of contemporary art in Berlin have left mainly one question unanswered: who
exactly do the curators address with this? (lately: "Berlin-Moskau" at
Martin Gropius Bau, "Face up" at Hamburger Bahnhof). But how to evaluate the
inside underrated, outside often overrated quality of Berlin's art scene?
All art and culture workers in Berlin, including the artists who arrive from
all over the world, together form their own critical and professional
audience - and this 'pool' seems to be the real potential of Berlin's art
scene today. This scene can be located in commercial art galleries as well
as in subcultural project spaces or in the few small, but relevant art
institutions. Here, it is at work on the productive and on the receptive
side, this way constantly re-setting its own standards, similar to a
specialized film festival, where professionals are stuck in one place for
days only to watch and discuss each other's work.

Three Berlin-based art magazines attract different reader-audiences inside
and outside of Berlin. The founders of the magazine "Neue Review" bank on
the joint forces of a 'professional audience' when they invite artists,
curators and critics to the experiment of writing reviews in couple or group
authorship. Obviously this concept automatically increases the number of
readers. On the other hand the art critics who recently founded the "u_spot"
magazine take a risky path when they locate their peer group in Berlin but
among a less informed audience. The artists who publish "starship", which
has generated a number of extensive issues so far, can build on connections
to the art scenes of Vienna and Cologne.

The fair debacle showed the necessity to vacillate between the local
experiment and a stabilizing outside, a broader international public or an
art market on a larger scale. Another strategy of survival in times of
limited public funding is collaborative projects and temporary coalitions,
which today successfully constitute Berlin's art program to a large part.
Since it has become almost impossible for institutional or independent art
spaces to sustain a continuous program, everybody is busy with teaming up
and sharing funding for temporary events (or very long-term projects on a
small scale).

Two theater related projects proved that the format of the platform still
has enough experimental drive to harness the available potentials. For a
"kiosk for usable knowledge" [7] on urban politics by Tulip House inc. a
two-story wood construction was put up on Rosa-Luxemburg Platz. Following a
concept of artist Stephen Craig, the spatial situation favored intimate
dialogues between invited guests over public lectures. Documents of the
events were projected or left in an archive open to the public. In October,
Matthias Lilienthal's HAU-series [8] started out in three theaters -
amalgamated due to financial stringency - with an "art and crime"
performance art festival, recently followed by 24 hours of protest lectures
by members of Berlin's battered universities. Another variable platform is
"Urban Drift" [9], which was present at festivals since 1999 and launched as
a panel event on architecture and urban space at Café Moskau in 2002. It now
continues the discourse with exhibitions in a project space at Zoo Station.
Maybe a similar concept will catch on at the German pavilion of the Venice
Biennial of Architecture in 2004, curated by "Urban Drift" initiator,
Francesca Ferguson.

Compared to the arguments in Berlin's local art scene which accompanied the
first Berlin Biennial in 1998, the 3rd Biennial [10] in February 2004 seems
to draw near in complete silence. Curat

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