transmediale 2016 conversationpiece
Festival identity, Artdirection and Design. With: Jannis Zell. Special Tag: Everybody is Talking
Everybody's talking at me
I don't hear a word they're saying
Only the echoes of my mind
"An inertia of conversation seems to be the result of today's global competition between states, corporations, networks, and individuals to create the contexts and frameworks for conversations. This competition is the process by which matters of urgent global concern are turned into pre-emptied conversations: the war on terror, economic growth, the refugee crisis, climate change, and big data to name just a few diverse yet interconnected ones. transmediale has dealt with these topics and many more in the past, but this year we believe it is time to turn a reflective gaze on the medium of conversation itself and rethink the format of the post-digital culture event."
> transmediale, festival concept
The design of this edition refers directly to the title Conversation Piece and takes therefore the metaphor of the (flying) brick from "Krazy Kat" comics by George Herriman (published from 1913 to 1944). "It started with a brick!" (Tom Lennon).
In its complexity (for early liberal discourses with focus on gender and race) and ambiguity (in the behaviours of the characters) the comic strip mirrors, and exaggerates, the ambition of disrupting the festival's (conversational) structure.
"Conversation Piece references a certain idealized type of conversation depicted in the eponymous genre of group portraits popularized in the 17th and 18th centuries. These paintings show slices of bourgeois family life such as tea parties, picnics, gallery viewings, and salons, where the subjects are engaged in private and informal yet also strongly hierarchic conversations. We should neither pretend that this idealized scene of a unified conversation culture can be achieved today, nor that it is desirable. Conversations are inherently fragmented in what passes for the global public sphere, and within it the privilege of conversation has at least partially been democratized and decentralized. This may seem good on the surface, but rather than bravely facing a radical multiplicity of topics and positions, we are seeing societies return to hierarchical forms of datafied conversation, where meaning is exchanged for mining, and text for context. In this situation, the one thing that seems worth repurposing from the historical conversation piece is the common ground on which arguments and viewpoints can be made. This is no longer the stable common ground of a traditional value system but rather the common articulation of many possible grounds and, importantly, the commoning of the means and resources to recognize these grounds in their difference and multiplicity."
> transmediale, festival concept
"transmediale/conversationpiece will not finally resolve the contemporary anxiousness to “do something”; we would like to recognize how talking things through has value in and of itself. Through the artistic, multimodal processing of the discursive, sensory, and aesthetic dimensions of these topics, the possible common grounds for conversations will be manifested.
We want to act but not in vain.
We want to make but not without agency.
We want to share but not be exploited.
We want to be secure but not at the expense of others."
> transmediale, festival concept
Trailer with and by Stefan Schmied (Expander Film)
"FIVE YEARS AFTER". Poster Design for a special panel/ collective display about the "post-2011" events (Arab Spring) with: Heba Amin, Lara Baladi, bak.ma, Serhat Köksal, Esra’a al Shafei. Curated by Oliver Lerone Schultz.
Reference system: Krazy Kat (published from 1913 to 1944) by George Herriman (1880–1944)
Krazy Kat – Cat
Ignatz – Mouse
Offisa Bull Pupp – Dog
Some Say it With A Brick – George Herriman’s Krazy Kat
The situation of the characters remains unchanged over the course of the strip’s thirty-year run: Ignatz Mouse hates Krazy Kat with a violent obsession that causes him to throw bricks at Krazy’s head; Krazy loves Ignatz with a singleminded passion that causes him to interpret the projectiles as signs of Ignatz’ love; Offissa Bull Pupp loves Krazy Kat and hates Ignatz Mouse, and uses his lawful authority -- as well as his billy club -- to protect Krazy from the bricks. Ignatz detests the “Kop,” and Krazy does not return Pupp’s affection, although he does not resent the intervention in his relationship with Ignatz. Krazy seems to understand that others cannot see the brick as a token of affection, and he ignores even Ignatz’ own protestations to the contrary; he is always utterly confident in his perception of the brick as a signifier of love.
Cartoonist George Herriman effected his social critique by locating Krazy Kat’s identity almost exclusively in an overtly ideological naivete. Krazy exposes the false consciousness of his companions through ignorance of their habits and conventions; his naive misrecognitions of their kynical misrecognitions deny their denial, pointing out the pretensions and misrecognitions necessary for the maintenance of everyday life. More than any other aspect of his character, this naivete fixes Krazy as an individual, for some of the most powerful locators of individual identity -- gender and race -- are transmutable in his character.
–Elisabeth Crocker, University of Virginia
George Joseph Herriman (August 22, 1880 – April 25, 1944) was an American cartoonist best known for the comic strip Krazy Kat (1913–1944). More influential than popular, Krazy Kat had an appreciative audience among those in the arts. Gilbert Seldes‘ article „The Krazy Kat Who Walks by Himself“ was the earliest example of a critic from the high arts giving serious attention to a comic strip.
A Krazy Kat daily strip began in 1913, and from 1916 the strip also appeared on Sundays. It was noted for its poetic, dialect-heavy dialogue; its fantastic, shifting backgrounds; and its bold, experimental page layouts. In the strip‘s main motif, Ignatz Mouse pelted Krazy with bricks, which the naïve, androgynous Kat interpreted as symbols of love. As the strip progressed, a love triangle developed between Krazy, Ignatz, and Offisa Pup.
[Krazy Kat‘s]… endearingly clumsy main character has been praised by Umberto Eco, e.e. cummings, Gertrude Stein and Frank Capra. Jack Kerouac called Krazy ‘the immediate progenitor of the Beat Generation’, and claimed his roots ‘could be traced back to the glee of America, the honesty of America, its wild, self-believing individuality’. […] Academic essays equate Krazy Kat with Dickens or Anatole France’s The Revolt of the Angels, or compare its clownlike subject to such mythic figures as Parsifal, Don Quixote, or a combination of Adam and Eve before the fall (with Ignatz as the serpent). You might believe this is all out of ‘perpotion’, but perhaps you haven’t noticed the old-fashioned comic’s subversive sensibility. Apart from its premise, it is predictable only in its inconsistency.
Krazy Kat is radical, positively Postmodern, and if you give it a chance, you’ll never again confuse it with Fritz or Felix.
–Laurie Attias, FRIEZE Magazine, Issue 32 January-February 1997
More articles on race, gender, identity:
On ‘Krazy Kat’ and ‘Peanuts’
By Umberto Eco Here
Krazy Komic – One hundred years later, why is George Herriman’s Krazy Kat still so radical?
By Anna Clark Here
Krazy Kat: Modernism and Influence
By Martin Skidmore Here
Krazy Kat: It Started with a Brick
By Tom Lennon Here
Creating Meaning Through Written and Visual Language in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat
By Erica Lambright Here
Krazy Kriticism: The Tics of the Trade
By Sarah Boxer Here
Slapstick and Self-Reflecivity
By Ben Juers Here
Race and Identity (Performance, Aestehtics and Perspectives)
By Zane Mowery Here
Reshape the Comics Canon
By Adrielle Mitchell Here
„TO HE, I AM FOR EVVA TRUE“ – KRAZY KAT‘S INDETERMINATE GENDER
By Elisabeth Crocker Here