Odd vibrations all around. A quick look up, and we see 7-meters-per-second speeding capsules through yellow tubes hanging on the walls of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. The 2013 edition of Transmediale, the festival dedicated to digital cultures, is characterized by a sardonic twist on its own themes, hyperconnection and social media, through the tentacular multi-installation perfected by the German art collective Telekommunisten. OCTO, "A Global Pipe Dream Come True" and "official miscommunication platform" of Transmediale 2013 is physically pinpointing the entire festival, starting from the official opening, in which written messages sent via this 'novel' pneumatized mail communication system are integrated to the inaugurating ceremony, focused on the shifting paradigms of contemporary communication.
Dedicated to Pluto, planet of the solar system up until 2006 and since then declassified to "dwarf planet", Transmediale's leitmotifs are in fact based on the ambiguity surrounding our time's attitude to communication and progress. On the one hand, the festival's consecration to Pluto's 'deplanetarization' after 76 years in our system hints at the paradox of science and of classification practices, while on the other hand, the Telekommunisten ironically promote reliability of "global vacuum-speed delivery of physical materials" in spite of the staggering proliferation of social media.
The art installation invites the general public to send messages across the various locations through a capillary air-induced system that is rigorously humanly supervised and furnished with a telephone to ensure message reception. Alongside visitors sending random messages through air-propelled capsules, various artists participate in the collective performance by sending out messages inviting the audience to perform simple tasks, such as sharing some of the items found in the capsules with other people. Consequently, the artists' capsules are sent back to the 'main station' where the contacts of the participants are stored.
If Transmediale 2013 openly questions the future of social media and its apparently inexorable pervasiveness, the OCTO prototype attempts to offer a radical response to the increasing state of anxiety revolving around modern communication. You can support and invest in the Telekommunisten project here. Whether this innovative and sustainable project will break into our proximate future is luckily also up to any of us.