June 30 2017

Thanks folks!

A big thanks to everyone on the team for your contribution in making Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017 such a great experience!

Team:

Philipp Albers (Concept, Curation)

Jennifer Beck (Online-Editor, Documentation)

Wolf Bittner (Coding)

Claudia Brückner (Curation)

David Chazarenc (Organization, Evening Program)

Lisa Dreier (Organization)

Fabian Ebeling (Online-Editor, Documentation)

Christoph Eder (Video Documentation)

Holm Friebe (Concept, Curation)

Jule Hass (Concept, Public Affairs)

Thomas Müller (Photography)

Lukas Balthasar Pank (Engineering)

Mads Pankow (Concept, Organization)

Cornelius Reiber (Translation)

Marvin Renfordt (Organization)

Christian Scheibe (Light, Evening Program)

Johannes Spitzer (Graphic Design)

Anne Waak (Curation)

Helping Hands:

Dilan Altun, Martin Baaske, Natalia Martínez Bermúdez, Johanna Dreyer, Lina Gräf, Nora Keilig, Rosina Korschildgen, Hannah Lotz, Lisa-Marie Lotz, Michael Mann, Friederike Schneider, Claudia Sichting, Adrian Tutal, Max Weidenbach, Clement Welsch, Thomas Weyres

Digital Bauhaus Summit is funded by the Thuringian State Ministry of Economy, Science and the Digital Society. We especially thank State Secretary Georg Maier for his support and for joining the discussion.

Digital Bauhaus Summit is under the patronage of the German Commission for UNESCO.

We thank our media and institutional partners for inspiring discussions and kind support:

Jan Feddersen, Editor and Initiator of taz.meinland

Boris Schade-Bünsow, Editor-in-chief of Bauwelt

Jenny Friedrich-Freksa, Editor-in-chief of Kulturaustausch

Brandeins

ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe

Bauhaus-Universität, Weimar

June 30 2017

Final Video-Flashback – Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017

Modern life is rubbish. Or is it? Being modern seems to have gone out of fashion and a notion emptied of all significance, merely a shallow reference to worn-out avantgarde attitudes or to design objects from the past which nowadays have become stale classics.
Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017 asked what could it mean today to be modern, after the concept of modernism and its dark dialectic of enlightenment have been thoroughly discredited and its successors of postmodernism and post-postmodernism as well as various retro movements have also run its course? Or have we never been modern – yet?

June 29 2017

Video-Flashback #15 – Panel “Peak Individualism”

If there was one single overarching megatrend of the 20th century, it was individualism. Ongoing individualization is at the core of Western modernity, bridging 18th-century Enlightenment with the 19th-century Industrial Revolution and 20th-century consumer capitalism. It got, as Adam Curtis argues in his most recent movie-essay, another boost in the 1970s through “HyperNormalisation” and the age of post-politics. But – like oil consumption and the world population – individualism can’t grow forever. Peak Individualism is nigh, if not already passed. The very concept of individualism as a booster of “being modern” is under attack – not dead yet, but already smelling funny. On a broad scale – from Adam Smith’s prosperous egoism via the cultivation of elaborate individualistic taste toward Stanford’s new take on californian ideology called “DYL” (Design Your Life) – a growing minority is fed up with the selfish culture of narcissism, and alternatives are surfacing. The hipsterish turnaround of “Normcore” – dressing up like “ordinary people” – might just be an ephemeral symptom of the erosion of Western individualism. But the success story of 1.3 billion Chinese people rising from poverty pursuing a different path to social prosperity (fueled by an aspirational lifestyle somewhere between social collectivism and luxury conformism) can hardly be ignored and cries out for interpretation and extrapolation. We humbly take up the challenge in this collectivist conference track.

June 29 2017

Video-Flashback #14 – Melanie Bühler “Being Modern, Breathing Post: Post-Internet Art as the Art of the Now (and After)”

In the last couple of years the interest in internet-related art has steadily increased, reaching its peak in 2014 when “post-internet” became the buzzword of the art world. Melanie Bühlers talk addressed how art and technology have co-evolved in the last four years, how hype and trends govern the attentional tides of the art world and what role digital technologies play in these dynamics. What does it entail to produce art as part of this recent past/current moment? What makes it “now” and why then has it so quickly been labeled as “post”?

June 28 2017

Video-Flashback #13 – Georg Maier Thuringian State Secretary of Economy, Science and the Digital “Welcome Adress“

Before discussing the very different forms of "normal" in the final Track "Peak Individualism" of Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017 Thuringian State Secretary of Economy Georg Maier gives an enthusiastic introduction.

June 28 2017

Video-Flashback #12 – Maik Novotny “It’s alive! – Regional Survival Strategies of the International Style”

Global und rootless, produced with mindless efficiency, plonked down onto cities with no regard to human scale and context. Such was the cliché of modern architecture, and more often than not it was true. Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building in New York, the embodiment of International Style, was copied countless times around the globe, and a good dozen times by Mies himself. On the other hand, wherever it landed, modern architecture has mingled and mixed with local mentalities and traditions in weird and exciting ways, producing a host of clever and lively bastard kids in countless sub-styles. In Japan, Metabolism turned the austerity of Le Corbusier into biomechanical structures ready for takeover, while its next generation of architects turned cold concrete surfaces into something warm and earthy. Brazilians Oscar Niemeyer and Lina Bo Bardi and Mexican Luis Barragán twisted the Mediterranean DNA of High Modernism slightly further and made it lush and sensual. In rainy England and Scotland, architects oscillated between the humanist grimness of Brutalism and low-key Scandinavian cosiness, and in Eastern Europe, industrial prefabrication met in controlled collisions with archaic forms and symbols. Today, the modern heritage has entered its next phase, with Africa rediscovering and updating its traditions, and social design in Chile and elsewhere reclaiming the egalitarian modern ideals against retro-chic commodification. Modernism's not dead, it just smells different.

June 28 2017

Video-Flashback #11 – Eva Rapp-Frick “Hagener Impuls GO! Call for Ideas”

Karl Ernst Osthaus founded the so-called “Hagener Impuls” at the beginning of the 20th century, preceding the Bauhaus and its domination of modern art and architecture. Osthaus dreamt of founding an artists’ colony that would spread his concept of modern living in an industrial society. In 1905, he invited Richard Riemerschmid to the Congress of the “Central Office for Workers Welfare” (Zentralstelle für Arbeiter-Wohlfahrtseinrichtungen) to speak on “The design of houses for the working class” (Die Gestaltung von Arbeiterwohnhäusern). Riemerschmid’s ideas impressed Osthaus to such an extent that he persuaded his relatives at Gebr. Elbers - a local textile company - to contract Riemerschmid to build a suburban workers’ colony. Sadly, only 11 of the planned 84 houses were actually built. One of them has been retained in its original décor and condition. What we need today is a fabulous idea for its use, reviving Osthaus's vision in the digital age.

June 28 2017

Video-Flashback #10 – Benedikt Sarreiter “From Therapy to Mind Control to Fun to Self-Optimization”

In his talk about “Substance Use in the 20th and 21st Century” writer Benedikt Sarreiter pleads us to take a step further: “The grey, spongy organ that is our brain can provide much more than it does today and psychedelics could help to dig it out and to discover it.”

The use of psychedelics and related substances changed over the last 70 years almost every decade. In the beginning there was psychotherapy. The treatment with LSD became hip in the late 1950ies and early 60ies to heal the tormented souls of Hollywood celebrities or ordinary German citizens. At the same time, the military complex discovered all kinds of drugs und tried to use them for a modern approach to interrogation techniques. Then the hippies came, then a backlash, before, ten to fifteen years ago, the renaissance of psychedelics began and lead to several different ways of substance use, ranging from all kinds of therapy to leisure time fun and to self-optimization. This talk will give a short overview of the past, present and future of modern substance use.

June 17 2017

What does "modern" mean to you? Melanie Bühler

"I don’t use the word at all. It is becoming so specific and so broad that I feel like it’s either too specific or too broad. I prefer to use the term ‘current’."

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 26 2017

Video-Flashback #9 – Eckhart Nickel “Rimowa World”

The traveller is a perfect embodiment of modern existence. Constantly moving in an atmosphere shaped by the technicality of industrial transportation, he has to obey the law of “form follows function” in terms of practical clothing, strict rules of conduct imposed by the safety regulations of high speed travel and limited space for baggage. At the contemporary center of the new status-anxious uniformity of travel is an iconic piece of luggage that mimics the materiality of early air travel in its ribbed aluminium body. The brave new “Rimowa World” will be interpreted as a symbol for a controlling style habitus creating the last bastion of modernity.

June 26 2017

Video-Flashback #8 – Timotheus Vermeulen “Knock Knock - Who’s There?”

Media and Communications professor at University of Oslo and co-founder of “Notes on Metamodernism” Timotheus Vermeulen states that our current cultural condition, with its return of modernist tropes in postmodern practices, can be described as metamodernism. The talk will discuss this concept by taking a closer look at the most postmodern of all metaphors: a shopping mall with no windows, hermetically closed off from the outside world, in other words, a simulacrum. It will be argued that art and culture intervene in the mall’s ecology by painting windows on the mall’s walls which depict an outside they are not sure, and cannot be sure, exists.

June 17 2017

What does "modern" mean to you? Philipp Blom

“Modernity is such a chameleon. And that’s part of its nature – it has a lot do with industry with technology with mass culture. That’s why a quick definition of modernity is crap.”

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 26 2017

Video-Flashback #7 – Emily Segal “Normcore: Past Present Future“

Emily Segal talked about the unplanned success story of a term.

June 21 2017

What does "modern" mean to you? Fabian Mürmann

"To me, being modern means going back to the countryside. Leaving the city more often."

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 21 2017

Video-Flashback #6 – Timo Daum “Socialism on the Inside, Capitalism on the Outside. Jerry Rubin and Solo-Capitalism“

Timo Daum talked about the paradox ideas of a california counter culture icon.

June 21 2017

Video-Flashback #5 – Raul Zelik "Postcapitalist Perspectives"

Where were all the accelerationists at this summit, you ask? Raul Zelik dropped at least one of them.

June 17 2017

What does "modern" mean to you? Barbara Vinken

"I would say that modernity in a very unpleasant republican way of stigmatizing the other as oriental and something which has to be destroyed and excluded is a really empty 'modern'. It’s a quite terrible ideology – but thank god an outdated ideology. And I hope it won’t be back."

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 20 2017

Video-Flashback #4 – Philip Blom "Vertigo – Modernity and its discontents"

From the dawn of the modern world to the crisis of the enlightenment – The modern doesn't only come with upsides.

June 20 2017

Video-Flashback #3 – Barbara Vinken "Fashion – An oriental colony in the heart of the west"

Barbara Vinken has extensively published about fashion and modernity, often with the background of literary studies. Check out her talk here.

June 20 2017

Video-Flashback #2 – Geza Schön "In the future, will we lose our sense of smell?"

Well, the headline pretty much gives it away. Take a peek at the video below.

June 20 2017

Video-Flashback #1 – Stephan Porombka "People of the 21st century"

Rediscovering August Sander's collecion of "People of the 20th century" Stephan Porombka applies the photographer's method and updates it to the present.

June 19 2017

What does "modern" mean to you? Steffen Greiner

"HAHAHA. Let me think about it, seriously, you can’t seriously ask such a question."

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 17 2017

Wrapping up day 2

Finally, it's done! Day 2 of Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017 is over but those pictures remain.

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
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Photo: Thomas Müller
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Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 17 2017

"There are so many different forms of normal" – Flashback "Peak Individualism"

“Do you think, the expression ‘Peak Individualism’ can make it to the Oxford Dictionary of English?” Holm Friebe asked Emily Segal who just finished her talk about how she and her association K-Hole coined the term “Normcore”. The answer was a simple, short and off-mic “I don’t think so”. Maybe that’s because Segal and her fellow K-Hole-People never intended “Normcore” to go such lengths as to end up in a dictionary.

K-Hole put out fake trend or marketing reports before. Yet, they were so elaborate that they hit a spot in (consumer) culture at the time. “Normcore” was intended to be a way of “generally being cool and getting along with people” as Segal put it. It was about not being too special that no one understands you anymore or about being too fast so that tomorrow the next trend already knocks on the door. Sure enough though, fashion blogs and media picked up on the term, interpreting it as a style of fashion, its followers dressing as normal as possible, in dad jeans and white sneakers for example.

And yet, Segal pointed out, “our notion of normcore was not cynical or hyper ironic to make fun of people of the Midwest”. It became an unplanned success story and, with some distance, Segal could now see truth in some criticism that came along with it. Still, K-Hole never doubted that “there are so many different forms of normal.” Segal sure never planned to have GAP run a “dress normal” campaign – which, by the way, failed in a major way.

Jumping to Jerry Rubin as a predecessor of solo-capitalism. In Jerry Rubin, a “leading light of Californian counter culture”, Timo Daum sees a predecessor of today’s “selfie-entrepreneurship”. An activist, leading protests against Vietnam War, Jerry Rubin made his way to New York in the 1980ies. There, according to Daum, he “invented networking” with meetings that extended the business day. Participants would get a “Jerry Rubin Business Networking Salon Card”. In any case, Rubin witnessed a shift and he saw “new individuals turning up” on the map: defined by style, taste and conviction. Impersonated by a character of the 80ies: the Yuppie. 

Last but not least Katja Kullmann took a closer look at consumer culture, in particular: a new social figure – the consumer. Real talk: „The owner of Rollkoffer and Billy shelf.“ „Yes I do have that Rollkoffer“, Kullmann stated, „but I’m not that bad.“ What she was referring to is „the fear of being misunderstood because of things.“ From the first protagonists of the Moderne, „Die Angestellten“ or „Bürofräuleins“ as agents of the new without rolemodels, to the Ästhetischer Kapitalismus there has always been the pressure to reinvent yourself – „the pain in the brain“ to be individual as fuck. As well as class-linked consumer criticism from many directions at the same time. But what about the shelf question? „Billy is a social peace maker“, Kullmann said, „in the generation of Taschenbuchleser it has allowed so many people to have their own library – everybody could use it to express every sense of lifestyle.“ 

Finally a discussion about peak individualism – at least about the reinvention of the self in a hipster society – couldn’t be wrapped up in two hours. But we got the chance to realize that there are always two sides of the medal: Maybe individualism means to flip between the ability and will to have another look at the world and allowing the world to have another look at you. And maybe Normcore is a sign of desperation but also a symptom of the attempt to find a way to express yourself in a society where self expression is occupied by mass production and consumption.

Emily Segal / Photo: Thomas Müller
Emily Segal / Photo: Thomas Müller
Timo Daum / Photo: Thomas Müller
Timo Daum / Photo: Thomas Müller
Katja Kullmann / Photo: Thomas Müller
Katja Kullmann / Photo: Thomas Müller
June 17 2017

"Modernism has gone beyond retro" – Flashback "Museum Of Modern"

„Modernity is not that shiny happy but has produced terrible fallouts“, Holm Friebe stated at the beginning of the conference morning session of day 2 at Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017. And the following impulse lecture – or with his words „happy little round-up of 300 years history of modernity and enlightenment“ – of author and historian Philipp Blom proved this statement. „Ideas don’t come from books but from real people and it’s meaningless to look at them divorced of technology“, Blom said, tracing correlations from the so called little climate change of the 17th century („nature is simply demanding to be more noticed“) to the need for social participation and the critical mass resulting of the question „But aren’t we all equal?“ at the beginning of the 18th century. „Enlightenment as the beginning of modernity is very great at preventing a sense of space but very bad of giving us a place, a sense of belonging.“ He finished answering the question whether there is such a thing as an antimodern enlightenment: „There’s definitely such a thing as unenlightened modernity. We like keeping consuming stuff that we don’t really need. We like dependencies we live in. The doors are open and we are refusing to leave.“

While Blom linked full democracies as very recent things to the force of fuels and economic growth but also stated the process of recognition that we are not able to guarantee the preconditions Raul Zelik was going to present post-capitalist perspectives. But did we already past peak-capitaism? „I don’t want to reproduce the conviction of the lefters to blame capitalism for everything“, the political scientist and writer said, „we are testifying the strange phenomenon of capitalism entering its decline.“ But if so what is to be done? „We should be sceptical towards technological solutions for social problems but we need the idea that there can be social progress on the long run“, Zelik explained our long term mission ending with another, maybe the main question: “Is there enough time left?“

Maik Novotny delivered a lean ride through the history and state of the art in modern architecture. “I am an optimist” he pretty much opened. Even if we heard about the end of history quite a few times during this Summit, Nowotny emphasized that even Frankenstein was created by Mary Shelley in the famous year without summer 1818 – following the eruption of a volcano in Indonesia.

Cutting to the chase: Modern architecture once was built upon a notion that architects sort of imposed their ideas of design, architecture and living on people. There were a few incidents that pinpoint the “death of modern architecture” as Nowotny put it. In 1968 a social housing complex in the UK, Ronan Point, partly erupted. It was built after a Danish pattern but poor housing and construction regulations in Britain caused it to partly erupt. This eerily echoes the recent disaster in London.

Today, when it really comes to starting processes and working towards accomodation for people who could not afford proper housing, there is a certain trend to be discovered: Incremental housing projects such as Alejandro Aravenas projects in Chile display in how far architecture can adapt to people’s needs. The have a certain layout and people could add whatever they need when it comes to furniture and so forth. Nowotny concludes: “Modernism has gone beyond retro.”

Totally off schedule but just right in time, Eckhart Nickel took the stage to give a short introduction into the cultural history of the Rimowa bag. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti already stated in his Futurist Manifesto that his time was one of speed. And he came to aknowledge the beauty of speed as in various design forms it manifested itself. Speed is what connects Marinetti to the urban nomads, the travelers of time as they cross land by trains, skies by airplanes. “Aus dem Koffer leben” is a sign of our times today, at least, for the ever mobile creative class. As Nickel put it with the words of Novalis, it is a deeply romantic desire to have a philosophical home. Well, if home means being on the road constantly, then, the Rimowa is your home on the ride. And he did not shy away from comparing something Bauhaus to traveling as he compared travelers using the four wheeler to "a bad cover version, vaguely reminiscent of the 'Bauhaus Tänze', Oscar Schlemmer's triadic ballet."

To conclude “Museum of Modern” we were introduced to old roots of the Bauhaus in Hagen and the story of a philanthropist by Eva Rapp-Frick. Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874-1921) inherited quite a lot of Goldmark, 3 Million, to be exact. He wanted to contribute to a good cause and asked Munic based architect Richard Riemerschmid to plan a settlement for workers in Hagen. The settlement was never finished in its entirety. Yet, one house is open for the public and the association HagenImpulsGo! Wants to take it to the future. They need your support! By the way, Henry van de Velde built a house in Hagen, the “Hohenhof” in 1908 which became a cultural center. So, there you have it, closing circles back to Weimar, where the architect designed the main buildings of Bauhaus-University Weimar.

Wrapping up this first part of the afternoon talks and building a bridge to the "Peak Individualism"-slot, Georg Maier, Thuringian State Secretary of Economy, Science and the Digital Society, adressed the audience with some welcoming words. He assessed in how far "geniuses" were supposedly able to connect the natural and the manly world. The "genius" as a highly individual being served as a stepping stone towards Maiers rhetorical connection towards challenges that digitisation brings about for the individual. "Today, business models work on gaining data from individuals. So, the individualization in this model is brough upon everyone from the outside, it's passive." Maier pointed out in how far it is also a task for governments to protect each one's possibilities of defining one's individuality. Here, in the cradle of the first Bauhaus, in Weimar, he concluded, he'd be happy to meet us all again. 

And off we go to Peak Individualism and its connection of how we perceive “modern” today!

Philipp Blom / Photo: Thomas Müller
Philipp Blom / Photo: Thomas Müller
Raul Zelik / Photo: Thomas Müller
Raul Zelik / Photo: Thomas Müller
Maik Novotny / Photo: Thomas Müller
Maik Novotny / Photo: Thomas Müller
Eckhart Nickel / Photo: Thomas Müller
Eckhart Nickel / Photo: Thomas Müller
Eva Rapp-Frick / Photo: Thomas Müller
Eva Rapp-Frick / Photo: Thomas Müller
Georg Maier / Photo: Thomas Müller
Georg Maier / Photo: Thomas Müller
June 17 2017

What does "modern" mean to you? Nina Duda

"Modern is ambivalent which reflects in a contradictory attitude towards the digital and the analogue. You want to live with the analogue and yet you want to capture life digtially."

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 17 2017

How modern can we be?

Is the west a museum of modernity? Have ideas and ideals about individualism as one core of modernity led to smugness among western civilizations? Is that about to change? Let's see today on day 2 of Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017!

As french philosopher Bruno Latour put it recently, westerners seem to think they live after the apocalypse, with history having ended after the cold war. A whole generation lived with the angst of almost certain obliteration. By time, it seems, the west forgot that it inflicted several apocalypses all over its periphery, colonizing it, making it its subject.

And yet, there lies a promise in "modernity", a promise of renewal. Today's conference at Digital Bauhaus Summit will take a peek at possible ways of how things might get better, eventually. Even though our times are perceived as global crisis (Brexit, wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, populism all over the place, ubiquitous terror). The conference is split into two sets: "Museum of Modern" and "Peak Individualism", both hosted by Holm Friebe.

“Museum of Modern”: Nice to look at, maybe, still, with not much use anymore? That, dear friends, we shall find out. To reach a postcapitalist perspective that goes beyond seemingly "simple" solutions like degrowth and basic income, westeners should learn about things like the "African Bauhaus", emerging in Sub-Saharan Africa. In today's talks we find out about African countries that rediscover and update their traditions and how social design in Chile, for example, is reclaiming egalitarian modern ideals. Eckhart Nickel will lead us to "Rimowa World", inhabited by travellers who embody modern existence.

Now, part two of the conference, "Peak Individualism" guides us through even trickier territory. Indivdualistic livestyles have become a core element of how westerners "read" modernity. Seemingly, this has evolved into quite a narcissistic notion, only considering one's self-fulfillment. There are quite a few developments today which speak for changes in such attiudes. Is western individualism keeping up with "eastern collectivism"? We'll find out with Emily Segal who coined the term "Normcore" or Katja Kullman, who'd like us to re-read and re-use IKEA's Billy shelf as a political symbol.

Off to new frontiers? Photo: Thomas Müller
Off to new frontiers? Photo: Thomas Müller
June 17 2017

What does "modern" mean to you? Raul Zelik

“It is linked to the thought of enlightenment that emancipation is possible. The problem of the real enlightenment of the Neuzeit is that it has remained unfinished and that’s why modernized terror. The promise of modernity is still unredeemed and that’s why for me its an unfinished term we have to delate.”

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 16 2017

Wrapping up day 1

It was a long day. You deserve some rest. Slide through those pictures. See you tomorrow and thank you!

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
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Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
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Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 16 2017

"A stroll through Thuringia" – Readings by Jörg-Uwe Albig and Rafael Horzon; A glimpse at Jutta Ditfurth's family archive

"The city is like a beast, building and construction is like a force of nature, a raging river." Jörg-Uwe Albig was standing there, in a Thuringian Field between Gelmeroda and Weimar. An amplifier, a microphone, a lorrie crossing, planes approching Erfurt. Seen from above, 150 boutique conference participants must have appeared like a small spec. 

Albig read from his new novel (A Love In The Steppe) which will be released in July 2017. The wind was blowing down from Ettersberg and now it was time to come down a bit and talk, strolling through the good old Kirschbachtal. Strollology was invented by founding dean of the Faculty of Design at Bauhaus-University Weimar, Lucius Burckhardt. It's all about beginnings, an approach towards topics and issues with an open mind. 

On a second break, Rafael Horzon took the stage and read a few lines from his early unknown novels. He was introduced as the "most radical modern thinker" by Holm Friebe. It was brief, it was pleaseant, it set the mood right for the crowd to move on down to the Milchhof area. Thuringian Bratwurst was on the menu there.

End of day 1 – back to the beast again: Jutta Ditfurth, early founding member of Die Grünen in Germany, entered the stage at Nivre Studio with the words: "I've heard you expect me to tell you fairytales – you'll be shocked." In the following two hours she stepped through the history of her ancestors from Thuringia beginning when she was 39 years old. "The tiny Thuringia was a totally unknown place until the wall fell", she said. Starting to dive deeply into the history of her ancestors: From her great great uncle, a poet and anti-Semite who worked as a propagandist or in Ditfurths words "a modern type of PR for the First World War", to all the other 199 aristocratic relatives providing space for the Freikorps and Stahlhelm in their castles, beating up jews and supporting NSDAP, SS etc. to "the red beast from Brandenstein" – her only relative "who fighted the Nazis – and they fighted him". Jutta Ditfurth got the Carte Blanche with only a single requirement: "Don't try to please anyone." Guess what she didn't do. 



 

Rafael Horzon / Photo: Thomas Müller
Rafael Horzon / Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Jutta Ditfurth / Photo: Thomas Müller
Jutta Ditfurth / Photo: Thomas Müller
June 16 2017

What does "modern" mean to you? Claudia Sichting and Natalia Martinez Bermúdez

Claudia: "Hmmmm. Oh Damn, should I have prepared for this? I think it is about trends and also about what we make of our time today."

Natalia: "In terms of design to me it’s about simplicity, functionality and thinking about the person that’s using objects and spaces. Yet, there is a difference between using the word 'contemporary' and 'modern'. Modern was before, contemporary is more in the now."

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller

Space is the place – Flashback in pictures Track 3: Modern Talking

Setting up a mobile photo studio (Stephan Porombka) and creating a modern bottle post (Claudia Brückner / Tina Weber) this interactive slot without designated speakers complemented and contered Track 1 and 2. As well as our cooperative experiment with Jan Feddersen from taz.meinland, Louis Klein and Katharina Meyer. Have a look!

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: ThomasMüller
Photo: ThomasMüller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 16 2017

What does "modern" mean to you? Daniel Sigge

"Being modern means having a competency for transformation. Dealing with post modernity, with constant change. Fluid, awake, energetic."

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller

„ It’s time to do one or even one hundred steps forward“ – Flashback Track 2: Higher potentials of drugs, smell and fashion

„Everything is free. We ask you to pay with your brains“, Holm Friebe opened the fourth Digital Bauhaus Summit in Weimar and Benedikt Sarreiter took it literally. In the second track of day 1 presented by Anne Waak the expert on psychedelic drugs answered the question „What will be contemporary?“ by presenting the so called „modern mind“. „Psychedelics are the stuff we have to talk about“, he argued. „The whole Silicon Valley is microdosing to have better ideas. It’s also super hip at the moment for problem solving – even women’s magazines such as Marie Claire wrote about it.“ That LSD is not only a hippie drug has first been realized in the 1930s when LSD became a medicament for psychological treatment. „The discovery of LSD was an important step on the way to explore our minds“, Sarreiter says. But still – since William S. Burroughs wanted to find relief for his depression – nobody knows exactly why psychedelic treatment is so effective and what the side effects are. But one thing we could be sure of as Sarreiter said is „that psychedelic based therapy might come back in the near future and we should realize its high potentials.“

Much space for high potentials has also been created in the second session of track 2 in the early afternoon, last but not least for answering the question how many cells the smell of a piece of cheese is able to activate. „It’s a third of your fucking brain“, perfumer Geza Schön said. Schön, internationally successful creator of Escentric Molecules, has not much to be frightened of but the thought whether we are gonna lose our sense of smell even more is something he has to share with the fellow participants at Neufert Haus. „50 percent of people would give their sense of smell for a piece of technology“, he quotes an actual study. „I’m not the perfume man from the fun fair but this is a very frustrating diagnosis.“ Reasons could be find quickly: „Smell has overcome by technology“, Schön said , „and it’s much easier to share visual things than smell. But this is our choice and we are able to chose not to be as visual as we always are in this extremely digital world.“ It’s a fact that we have those body own drugs called pheromones, which couldn’t work consciously but play those natural tricks for us. If we lose our capacities to smell – where would be the magic? „Smell is the only anarchic sense we have“, Schön stated, „technology shouldn’t be the reason to lose all the beauty this sense provides.“

Apropos beauty: There’s no modernity without fetishism, Freud said. Barbara Vinken, author of „Die Blumen der Mode“ (2016)  and speaker of the last slot at Neufert House, said that we have to discuss wheter we have ever been modern stating a clear misunderstanding of the terms „mode“ and „modernity“. In her impulse speech she described what philosophy did with fashion during the last 400 years since fashion has been stigmatized as the oriental colony in the heart of the West. „There’s no question that there are oriental influences, without it there would be no fashion“, she argued navigating the audience from Pierre Bourdieus discourse of modernity to Rousseaus cry for reforms to Nietzsches redefinition that fashion has never been a symbol of change but of resistance (just have a look at the male suit!) to the first department stores („cathedrals of capitalistic empires“) at the end of the 19th century to Adolf Loos who said that female fashion „is simply a crime and woman is nothing without man.“ But after all what did Vinken plead for today? „Enjoying fashion against the grail of all modern misunderstanding.“

Benedikt Sarreiter / Photo: Thomas Müller
Benedikt Sarreiter / Photo: Thomas Müller
Geza Schön / Photo: Thomas Müller
Geza Schön / Photo: Thomas Müller
Barbara Vinken / Photo: Thomas Müller
Barbara Vinken / Photo: Thomas Müller
June 16 2017

What does "modern" mean to you? Stephan Porombka

"'Modern' is a term which is used to convey an image of something new. Maybe we should stop using it."

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 16 2017

"Technology and hype go together" – Flashback Track 1: Now, post, where are we, actually?

Stephan Porombka started off the afternoon of talks at Neufert Box in Gelmeroda. Recently he has indulged in the work of August Sander (1876-1964), a photographer who took on the challenge of portraiying “People of the 20th Century” during his lifetime. From workers to composers, he pretty much captured whoever crossed his way. What does this have to do with a notion of “now”?

“To access issues via our own aesthetical practices, understanding it as an experiment” is what drives Porombka in dealing with Sander’s work. He started cutting up pages of Sander’s books, rearranged them, de- and recontextualized them. Further, he places portraits of other people on the bodies captured in Sander’s pictures. A simple selfie turns into a modification of old material, signifying a “culture of constant transformation” as Porombka put it. Thus, the “now” is always, in some way, the introduction of a difference. Consequently, Porombka set up a temporary foto studio, engaging with his own encyclopedia, “The People of the 21st Century”, starting here, at Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017.

Melanie Bühler visualized further differentiations in the field of arts during her talk about post-internet art. A base from where we started was the acknowledgement that “today, there cannot be art without the internet.” Bühler guided the audience at Neufert Box through the history of internet art and how it became post-internet-art within – compared to other epochs – a rather short period of roughly two decades. “It is almost overwhelming how fast things can develop. Especially in academia you always seem to lag behind” Bühler said in a quick Q&A after her talk.

Still, you can pinpoint the development into post internet art quite easily: From green and black screens, depicting the collapse of website code (wwwww.jodi.org, 1995) which worked within networks only and on computers only to the “OMG Obelisk” which used a “internet phrase” but was exhibited offline, in the physical world, it happened rather fast for internet motives to leave the web and enter our earthly realms.

Melanie Bühler finds that “technology and hype go together” so, in 2015, post-internet art was ranked highly on the market for speculators who would art-flip and speculate on future prices of artworks. Two days ago, when Bühler last checked artrank.com there were hardly any post-internet artists left. So, given the fast pace of trends, Melanie Bühler hesitates, as she says, to use the word “modern” in colloquial language, she prefers the term “current”. And currently, one might even ask if the internet (as we have known it twenty years ago) was dead, given it’s vast backbone and big companies governing it, that goes along with this structure.

The most whirlwind talk of the afternoon was – most definitely – Thimoteus Vermeulen’s. He gave the audience a crash course in his take on the state of the modern today. In Short, we rode from modern to postmodern and reached the metamodern. The latter is pretty much characterized by a “stress of choice” that we are constantly facing. We always have to choose sides, even though we learned that there are no definite truths. “Especially the politica left have lagged behind in taking decisions. The right, they don’t care” Vermeulen pointed out.

Even more so, “Trump can state one truth today and stick to another tomorrow”, Vermeulen said. In other words: He does not seem to doubt, whereas we know we have to doubt absolute truths. Here, in doubts, Vermeulen sees a trait of the metamodern. Even if we know that we have to think of alternative futures than the present, there is always this lingering doubt. And still, or so it seems, even conservative thinkers such as Francis Fukuyama who once famously stated the end of history after the end of the cold war, even they feel like there is some kind of turning point approaching. Said Fukuyama himself recently figured his diagnosis was a bit hasty, back in the early nineties. “Something else is coming”, Vermeulen concluded. 

Stephan Porombka / Photo: Thomas Müller
Stephan Porombka / Photo: Thomas Müller
Melanie Bühler / Photo: Thomas Müller
Melanie Bühler / Photo: Thomas Müller
Timotheus Vermeulen / Photo: Thomas Müller
Timotheus Vermeulen / Photo: Thomas Müller
June 16 2017

What does "modern" mean to you? Anne Waak

"Being modern for me means to question everything, not to take anything as fixed. Nothing’s written."

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller
June 16 2017

How to be modern today? Thinking future beyond post-everything

Where’s „ahead of the curve“ located? Hasn’t being modern gone out of fashion? What could modern life mean at all in post-everything-times? Is there any chance to „create something new“? Or is – as simple as that – modernity our antiquarity?

The Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017 takes up these and many more thoughts. „How to be modern today?“ is the leading question the fourth conference in Weimar will pursue – but at least it should provide space to delve deeper into discussions about Zeitgeist, Normcore, innovations and the transformation of worn-out avantgarde attitudes. High-profile thinkers and experts from several social, cultural as well as technical fields such as Barbara Vinken, Katharina Meyer, Philipp Blom, Raul Zelik, Eckhart Nickel, Emily Segal, Katja Kullmann and many more will investigate past, present and future modes of being modern.

Of course, we have to talk! About the status quo – in Track 1 Stephan Porombka, Melanie Bühler and Timotheus Vermeulen will argue about the question „Where are we now?”  – and possible future modes of eating, thinking, working, smelling discussed in Track 2 (What will be contemporary?) by several experts in the fields of perfume, psychedelic substances and fashion. But there’s also a need for participation. For this reason Digital Bauhaus Summit presents an inclusive Track 3 for experiments running without designated speakers but with fellow participants as well as a range of ongoing activities: Stephan Porombka for example will set up a mobile photo studio to take pictures of participants for his project „People of the 21st Century“ who are also invited to add their Senf to the question „What could be next or even new?“

Last but not least, the first of two productive days include the cooperative roundtable taz.meinland. As well as an evening walk with several stops from Gelmeroda to Weimar concluded by a strange look at Thuringia by sociologist, political activist and passionate storyteller Jutta Ditfurth – because using your brain and imagination to transfer history into a worthy tomorrow will never run out of fashion.

#beingmodern #dbs17

Photo: Thomas Müller
Photo: Thomas Müller

Flashback – Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016

It's a wrap – now let's head straight on towards 2017!

July 8 2016

Sarah Sharma and Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino make a conclusion about #DBS2016

According to a participant, the talks of Sarah Sharma and Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino were “beautifully paired together” by addressing the measures of care between “reconfiguring the way we understand gender and intimacy” (S.S.) and “the other side of care: the unhelpful patriarchal care of being in a maternal bubble.” (A.D-S.).

July 4 2016

Sven Pfeiffer: “The role of architect is changing to a participating approach”

Sven Pfeiffer is teaching at the Technical University of Berlin and focused on his speech about the changing role of architects in the today’s digitalized world. He posed questions about this new role and how we can find the right tools to shape architecture in the near future. In an interview, he explains his thoughts.

July 4 2016

Mark Fisher: “I label Luxury Communism as Designer Communism”

The professor at the Goldsmith University of London, Mark Fisher, also talked with us about Design Communism. “The capitalist cyberspace is that the proper experience became the only way to consume things. Listening to music on phones, watch films on phones. It is not only the screen resolution, it became the standard. Why we can’t watch any more movies in cinemas. The capitalist cyberspace intends us we don’t have time anymore. That is the time crisis, the time poverty”.

June 6 2016

Alisa Andrasek: “In a few years, we’ll be able to print buildings”

In her talk on the first day of Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016, Alisa Andrasek focused on the idea of augmentation in design processes. The goal of her research is to contribute to the acceleration of design, enabling high and super performance.

June 6 2016

Sonia Fitzek: “Will players be replaced by algorithms?”

On the first day of Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016, Sonia Fitzek introduced the listeners into her work on collaboration in online games. People play those games not just for the sake of playing but to help scientists get on with their projects, for exampls. See what we talked about after her talk.

June 6 2016

Vinay Gupta: “Basic needs are not being met for most of humanity”

If you did not get the chance to see how Vinay Gupta elaborated on how blockchains and collaboration can help enhance quality of life in developing countries, see his talk at Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 here.

June 6 2016

Evgeny Morozow: “I tried to stay away from designerly types”

Have you ever heard a guy talk as focused as him? The ideas and references flew about in the National Theater, Weimar, when Mr. Morozov took the stage to figure out the mess that capitalism is in.

Wolfgang Tiefensee: “Wir sind schon digitalisiert”

Wolfgang Tiefensee, Thuringian State Minister of Economy, Science and the Digital Society, adressed the crowd at the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 during the conference day. In our short Q&A he talks about the challenges of digitization in all areas of life.

June 6 2016

Full talk of Sarah Sharma: “Do not Enter, This is not an Exit: Sexodus and the Gig Economy”

During the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016, a team made videos of all the talks on the second day in the National Theatre in Weimar. The first talk on tape – published now on our blog – is from Sarah Sharma and her talk “Do not Enter, This is not an Exit”.“She talks about how the dream of exit poses a problem for feminism and the future of a post/gender/post-work politics.”

June 6 2016

Bruce Sterling: “I like cruise liners”

The writer, editor and activist talked about scenarios for experimental societies. Watch the video to find out why he considers sea-going vessels as spaces for new forms of societies.

June 6 2016

Class of 2016

Weimar is a Thuringian beauty. Pretty much everybody who comes here falls in love with this city. Maybe not the usual teenie school class who is forced to come here by their German literature teachers. Still, writing this, the idea of a Digital Bauhaus Class of 2016, seems compelling. 150 people gathered here from June 3rd-4th to reflect upon ways how to design our new society, how to engage with new ways of production and automation, new concepts of value chains and how to tackle capitalism that is making its way into cyberspace, hi-jacking ideas that once were for the common good. One possible answer is to be found in Luxury Communism.

Architects, designers, activists and academics stuck their heads together for two days, presented ideas, projects and thoughts that point in the direction of a balanced common good that embraces technological progress without fearing a looming dystopia beyond the horizon. It got more political than other editions of the Digital Bauhaus Summit because talking about platform capitalism for example, you will find that means of “production” and labor are in quite a disbalance which might lead to real class struggles. In some cases, the struggles are on already. Commodities for some people have always meant disadvantages for others. 200 years ago as much as today.

What is Bauhaus about all this? The notion, that a group of people discusses, imagines and proposes ways of how to deal with what’s there and tries to use it for the purpose of the common good. Be it in design or architecture, the political has been inherent in the Bauhaus, it is inherent in discussions of the Digital Bauhaus Summit, we just need to translate it into common languages and actions and free our discourses from high brow attitudes, which the Bauhaus hardly ever had. Weimar is at the core of this tradition, that is why it’s home to the Summit. On the way to Bauhaus 2019, the Digital Bauhaus Class of 2016 left its mark.

Yet, we have to think bigger here, it shall not remain a class only. Actually, we are on our way to a new school of interdisciplinary thinking, bearing Bauhaus traditions in mind, finding, what we can do with it today. There is a lot more to be discovered beyond 2019.

Photo: Thomas Mueller
Photo: Thomas Mueller
June 6 2016

Thuringian Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee: “My vision is that all the SME companies are organized in a cloud and collaborate together”

One of the speaker at Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 was the Minister for Economy and Digital Society in Thuringian. He addressed in his speech that the Bauhaus Summit is really important for Thuringia and give an approach what will happen with the digitalization in the near future.

After his talk, our Bauhaus Summit Blogger had an interview with the Minister about his vision and what they expect from the business (in German):

June 6 2016

Dmytri Kleiner, Venture Communist

In the early days of the world wide web, there was end-to-end communication with hardly any “mediators” in between. By the time though, it was “colonized” by corporations. Server farms, for example, constitute a monopoly of how information flows, Facebook makes you accept terms of use which actually f*** around with the immediacy of your communication.

Yet, not just the resources and thus, the web, are colonized but also the way of how money is being made through web platforms. There is a class struggle going on. To us, service platforms and apps might seem very convenient. On the end of the workers who carry out their duties, we can hardly talk about convenience. Drivers who work for Uber, for example, form something one might call “Cyberproletariat”. They are exploited, have no insurances whatsoever.

In his talk, Berlin based software developer Dmytri Kleiner illustrated how communcation networks have been colonized and in how far alternative models of infrastructure could help break the cycle of monopolized data flow. In short, one option is a peer-production license, a commons-friendly license Kleiner describes as CopyFarLeft, on which he expands in his Telekommunisten Manifesto. This manifesto also proposes venture communism, a mode of worker-controlled production modeled on peer networks and the pastoral commons. This model is based on end-to-end communicatoin, cutting out the middle man.

Dmytri Kleiner coined the term venture communism in 2001 “to promote the ideal of workers’ self-organization of production as a way of addressing class conflict.”

Dmytri Kleiner, Photo: Thomas Mueller
Dmytri Kleiner, Photo: Thomas Mueller
June 6 2016

Sarah Sharma: “What is with the social-relationships in luxury communism?”

One of the top speaker at this year Digital Bauhaus Summit was Sarah Sharma, Associate Professor and Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. With her book In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics (2014) she won the National Communication Association Critical/Cultural 2014 Book of the Year Award. She is currently working on a new book that brings feminist approaches to technology to such sites as the algorithmic culture, the “sharing” economy, and the changing structures of care labour.

After her talk, we had the possibility to do an inspiring interview with Sarah Sharma about her idea of care in the 21st century, the meaning of social relationships in luxury communism and her thoughts about a post-gender society. “The only way luxury communism is possible is to rethink the gender”, says Sharma. She also talks about the identity crisis of the man because he feels more and more disposable.

With her charming way she could win over the audience: Sarah Sharma, Photo: Thomas Mueller
With her charming way she could win over the audience: Sarah Sharma, Photo: Thomas Mueller
June 6 2016

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino: “If it worked for the poor, it will work for the rich”

The London-based interaction and product designer Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino had a provocative and also funny talk about Common Good(s) at the Bauhaus Summit 2016 in the National Theatre of Weimar. As the founder of designswarm, a consultancy for governments & corporate clients who want to plan for next generation connected products, experiences  and strategies, she thought about the design at home and how it influences our daily life.

In her really direct manner, she could interact well with the audience on a very personal level because her stories touched us in our everyday life. Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino did not want to present any solution, but asking questions about our behaviour and life in big cities such as London or New York. Alexandra drew a comparison between the life in big cities in the 21st century and in the 1950s, and also presented surprising results and connections between these eras.

You will find her presentation here: designswarm_digitalbauhaus_summit_final

A short conclusion of the talk you can find in the following video:

June 5 2016

The most inspiring pictures from the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016

Here we go with a collection of the best pictures from the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 in the Neufert-Box and the National Theatre on the 3th and 4th of June 2016. All the pictures were taken by our great photographer Thomas Müller from Taikrixel.

June 4 2016

Evgeny Morozov uncut

Evgeny Morozov is a busy guy, he had to take off right after his talk about “The Geopolitical Unconscious of Luxury Communism”. We grabbed him, ran from the National Thater to the Elephant Hotel in Weimar, hit the “record” button and asked him a few questions. For all who weren’t (and were) there, here’s a short, uncut Q&A.

Evgeny, could you recap what your talk was about?

Sure. Basically you have a giant political, financial and economic crisis in Europe and all over the world. Capitalism can no longer use its option of saving itself (the banks and finance) like it used to. So, it is going into the technology sector to do that. That’s the salvation option for the neoliberal elites. You have a challenge here to that project which is right wing conservatives, based on restoration of national sovereignty and based on limiting the powers of banks. The left is missing from the picture but it must develop a coherent strategy which could development a lot of this infrastructure for a proper communist future.

What’s the state of the political left nowadays? Is it able to develop such strategies at all?

In some countries the social democratic left is more to be situated in the center or in the right political spectrum. They no longer defend the things that the left traditionally defended. The radical left quite often is in a pathetic state. You have new parties emerging like Podemos in Spain and also the Five Star Movement in Italy which have an agenda that somewhat resembles the left. Yet, their approach of questioning of globalisation and trade also resembles the right. For them, to properly qualify as left, they have to rethink the productive industrial economy and rethink the ways in which new forms of ownership might go beyond private ownership.

Are there examples of such models that actually work?

There is a lot of talk about the commons paradigm, the notion that the citizens actually own things, not just nation states and corporations. In Italy there are lots of institutions that use commons as their model. Yet, we need to think through what that specific commons-based model means for intangible things like data.

You mentioned that capitalism is in crisis. Is it really doing so badly?

There are many symptoms of crisis that we see: You have huge unemployment in many European countries up to 40-45% among young people; you have people who are increasingly charged for services that used to be public; you have lots of turmoil in the streets; protests against privatization of infrastructure; the state’s services like health care, education and transportation are declining. So, symptoms of the crisis are not hard to find. Further, there is this continuous agenda of shrinking even more of what is left of the welfare state.

What do you think about luxury communism?

We don’t have the luxury to think about luxury communism. That’s the shortest answer to the question.

Do those terms even go together for you?

As a normative idea of having a regime where people who have produced values that allows the system to function – for example data -are entitled to harvest the  fruits of their labour, to relax and chill… I’m all behind it. The problem is, that you can’t just get there through experiments and design. You get there through clever political strategies. At this point they will involve political parties and not just design interventions.

Evgeny Morozov, Photo: Thomas Mueller
Evgeny Morozov, Photo: Thomas Mueller
June 4 2016

Vinay Gupta: “Luxury Communism on a dollar a day”

On the second day of Bauhaus Summit, taking place in the National Theatre of Weimar, renowned thinker Vinay Gupta presented an Integrated Needs Analysis about poverty development and environmental crisis. Gupta has new trust in technologies like Blockchain. In his opinion, blockchains can enable mass collaboration and can bring transformative technologies to the villages of developing countries. It can change healthcare, education, farming and engineering in those countries and really bring an effort in the fair distribution of resources.

Gupta spoke mainly about the possibilities of Blockchain in the near future as an economy concept. “With blockchain, the fight about resources between 1 Billion rich and 5 billion “poor” people will change”, he claims. He talked about a new generation of activism: “The real activism today is going through the technologies”, Gupta said.

Vinay Gupta, Photo: Thomas Mueller
Vinay Gupta, Photo: Thomas Mueller
June 4 2016

The stage is set

The first president of the Weimar Republic, Friedrich Ebert, was inaugurated at the National Theater in Weimar. One of the first big “Reichstage” of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party was held here. During the socialist era in the GDR was a prestigious place and now, today, we are at a historical crossroads again. We are entering the second day of the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 – Luxury Communism. In this notion, conference host Sebastian Olma finds a productive way of thinking about the future: “Its intention is to put communism back into design and we can see it as a different approach to technological structures today.” We are joining a cadre, we are on our way to a manifesto.

Yet, “luxury communism will not come easy even if it is a life of ease”, Bruce Sterling says in his opening address. Even Marx “never gave leisure a serious thought”. Sterling, futurist, activist and novelist gave examples of where people are/were actually pulling off some of what might be Luxury Communism. Or, at least, an early stage of it. The following is an incomplete list of what Sterling was illustrating on stage. Beware, the lines blur between quotes and the blogger’s words here:

Prospects No. 1: Rural communes; people living in geodesic domes which originate in a concept by Buckminster Fuller; amish people, who are successful rural refusniks who work really hard – the crowd in the National Theater doesn’t seem much like they’d appreciate that lifestyle.

Prospects No. 2: Squats. See Christiana in Copenhagen, for example. Bruce Sterling: “I could probably live in Christiana”. Yet, are they real dropouts?

Prospect No. 3: Retirement villages. The elderly don’t collapse from social decay but from age. Soft living for everybody – that pretty much says it all.

Prospect No. 4: Cruise ships. They are rootless.

Prospect No. 5: Armies. They live in barracks and work in social services. A popular luxury communist army could do a lot. At last, military service is pre-capitalistic.

Prospect No. 6: Monasteries and pilgrim centers. The are keen on labor. Take hindu Sadhus for example. They walk, pray and beg. They can manage by the social kindness of people: “It’s a backpacker’s life without the backpack.” It’s post-economical, post-nationalist and post-family.

Prospect No. 7: Academies. There’s plenty of room in schools. They stay busy even if they don’t have jobs. Bauhaus, Black Mountain College – they are like artistic communes, there is some semiotic pressure, maybe, but, hey, they design.

Prospect No. 8: The discipline of a police state. It would be rooted in surveillance and informants. Social media would play an important role. The human flesh search engine would massively troll you if you were out of line.

Prospect No. 9: Hospitals! The healthcare sector is growing, we have a need for more human care. There are even beauty treatments.

Prospect No. 10: Refugee camps. Gigantic, modern pop-up cities. You don’t understand capitalism if you don’t understand the mechanics of such camps. It takes 1200 dollars per month to maintain you there.

Prospect No. 11: Machine slavery? It’s something like imagining cats as lunch.

By the way, there is a Weimar in Texas, the state, where Bruce Sterling comes from. People there wanted to live in a different way. They were refugees from 1848 who were looking for a new life after the defeat of the democratic revolution.

Prospect No. 12: Honestly, the blogger drifted off here when Sterling started to talk about Goethe in Italy.

According to Sterling, Charlotte von Stein is the luxury communist of Weimar, actually: “She didn’t even have a job. She was a lady in waiting. But she was a social engineer of Weimar.” She had good manners, was polite, nobody paid her for it. Ha! She even wanted to become a great figure in literature without writing anything. And she could, since she was a muse to that Goethe guy.

You already guessed prospect No. 12? Right! It’s Charlotte herself. And what about Weimar 200 years later? Once it was a leading city, in the 17th century, had a very moved history. The awareness of the past allows us to make “better mistakes”, Sterling resumed. Ending with “Sturm und Drang”, he set the stage for the conference. On with it, comrades!

Keynote on the second day of the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016: Bruce Sterling. Photo: Thomas Mueller
Keynote on the second day of the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016: Bruce Sterling. Photo: Thomas Mueller
June 3 2016

There shall be SLIME

Go all in at the Slime Economy and get gambling. Photo: Thomas Müller
Go all in at the Slime Economy and get gambling. Photo: Thomas Müller
June 3 2016

Making it smart

Jasmina Tesanovic’s talk was all whirlwind and heat. With a lot of energy and empathy, more or less freestyling her talk, she took the audience by storm. Jasmina likes smart things and she likes to talk about how women should get more involved in technology. You know, it’s not like just the cliché geek guy can make an object smart.

Born in Serbia, raised in Italy, she’s a political activist, feminist and author and known as the co-founder of “Casa Jasmina Project” in Torino which she founded with her husband Bruce Sterling. Her mission today was to introduce the audience to seven approaches of how women can get involved more with tech and to share some thoughts about living in “Casa Jasmina”.

Now, I was not able to grasp all approaches but one could definitely work as pars pro toto. Number six it is fiction design! According to Jasmina: “I would like a screen that is not made of fabric so it could not be broken.” So why not imagine a smoke screen? “Men think about improving the box, not about destroying the box and using something completely different”, Jasmina added.

In any case, her project, the Casa, is about connecting. Connecting with each other and creating a space where things are smart. Not like in your regular smart home where you have remote controls with 17 buttons, no. Two buttons are more than enough. Simplicity over fanciness and “always open source”. No luxury. Wait, maybe just a tiny bit of luxury communism?

Jasmina Tesanovic, Picture: Thomas Müller
Jasmina Tesanovic, Picture: Thomas Müller
Jasmina Tesanovic, Picture: Thomas Müller
Jasmina Tesanovic, Picture: Thomas Müller

Best pictures of day 1 – Digital Bauhaus Summit at Neufert-Box

Here we go with a collection of the best pictures from the first day of the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 in the Neufert-Box in the south of Weimar and in the evening in the Kesselturm in the center of the city. All the pictures were taken by our great photographer Thomas Müller from Taikrixel.

June 3 2016

Heroes, no more!

Which part of the brain enables you to master a craft? What makes a good craftsman? And what if this craft would actually be mastered by machines? Those questions came up during Sven Pfeiffers talk about the Shifting Role of the Architect in the Age of the Internet. Pfeiffer is based in Berlin, works as an architect and guest professor for digital architectural production at the Technical University of Berlin. Today he showed how, in research, architects are pushing boundaries by involving technology and computation.

While that process not only changes the “craft”, it also challenges the heroic, genius role of architects. But, movies tell more than words: have a look at some automated building constructions by drones here.

June 3 2016

Unleash and Organize!

Right upstairs in the Neufert Box it was all about Platform Cooperativism and Political Campaigns in the Age of the Internet. Trebor Scholz is a scholar-activist and Associate Professor for Culture & Media at The New School in New York, Johannes Ponader has been dealing with basic income for the last 15 years and has set up the platform “Mein Grundeinkommen”.

In his talk, Trebor Scholz delivers a short critique of platform capitalism. Nowadays, Scholz sees little resemblance of the Silicon Valley’s original idea that a different future is possible. According to Scholz, Uber drivers for example are no micro-entrepreneurs as the company claims. More likely, they are working for labor companies with no labor rights at all.

Scholz poses the question “why not own the platforms we use?” and delivers some examples of Platform Cooperativism. And behold, there are some bright ideas: VTC Cab, quite similar to Uber but owned by the drivers or Fairmondo, a fair marketplace which is decentralized and owned by its users.

Johannes Ponader’s campaign “Mein Grundeinkommen” serves as an example for, as he calls it, “Meta Platform Cooperativism”. The basic income campaign is a prototype and works quite simple: People donate money via crowdfunding. 12.000 Euros are reached and then raffled out to people who signed up for it. One winner takes the money and has a basic income for one year. Here’s a short Q&A with Johannes Ponader:

What is the motivation of people who donate money to an individual that they can have that basic income?

Most people are interested in our experiment. They want to find out what happens when your basic needs are taken care of. With their donation they make the experiment happen. Also, most of them believe in the idea of basic income. Still, some critical person donate because they are interested in the outcome

Is there a success story of someone who won it?

There are many success stories among the 32 winners we have. There was one guy who worked in a call center. When he was asked what he’d do with the money, he said he wanted to become a child educator. When he won the money, he actually started studying and got a job when he finished. There are some entrepreneurs among the winners. The money gave them safety to start their business.

What do people gain beyond money

Absolutely. People who depend on welfare get more dignity. They don’t have to go through all the bureaucracy and prove all the time that they really need help. For those who were not depending on benefits, the money meant freedom.

What is the most important thing that has to be done to raise acceptance for the basic income, in Germany for example?

Some serious studies and research has to be done in economics, sociology and psychology. We need a more scientific and profound perspective on the issue.

Do you see any connection to the Bauhaus in your project?

The Bauhaus approach was to design for the people. We try to do that since our welfare system is not social at all. The basic income is the Bauhaus way of social security.

June 3 2016

Alisa Andrasek: No boundaries between human creativity and code

Croatia-born Alisa Andrasek talked about the increased resolution fabric of design with automated scripting. The next language will dissolve the boundaries between human creativity and code. The architecture will be influenced within design ecologies – where designers have access to algorithmic profiles and new possibilities with human and inhuman intelligence with big data.

As an architect and designer, Alisa Andrasek is the founder of Biothing. With her company, she is operating between design, material and computer science. As a founding partner of Bloom Games, co-founder of AI-Build and director of Wonderlab Research at the UCL Bartlett, where she is giving the lecture Architectural Design. She received Europe 40 under 40 Award, Metropolis Next Generation Award and FEIDAD Award.

In the following video you can see some of her work from Biothing with the Swarmologyseries:

June 3 2016

Juliane Landmann: Six scenarios about the labor market in Germany

Dr. Juliane Landmann is a project manager at the Bertelsmann Stiftung where she initiates empirical studies and reports with the aim of shaping sustainable economies. One of this studies introduced a strategic preview of the labor market 4.o. in Germany in the year 2030. For the study, the Bertelsmann Stiftung collaborated with the Ministry of Labor in Germany, Ministry of Education, universities, Microsoft and IBM, did a workshop with around 30 experts from the field and developed six scenarios for the labor market for the future.

The employees of the future can expect different starting points, which are discussed in more detail in the study. Juliane Landmann gave an abstract of these scenarios in her talk. For some scenarios in the labor market, some political decisions have to be made.  For example the unconditional basic income or fiber network all over the country.

There are mainly six employments scenarios for the year 2030:

i-factory master → Scenario 1 “Engineering nation with a heart”

business model architect → Scenario 2 “Silicon countryside with social conflicts”

crowd manager → Scenario 3 “Rhineland Capitalism 4.0”

local package deliverer → Scenario 4 “Digital strongholds and disconnected hinterland”

online investigator → Scenario 5 “Digital evolution in the federal competition”

accountant 4.0 → Scenario 6 “Digital failure”

But there are also horror scenarios with a big shift of high-qualified knowledge workers and underpaid “clickworkers”. A paradise for high-potential scientists that are paid well but on the other hand a security system that is near to collapse as we can see below on the scenario “Silicon countryside with social conflicts”. Also more and more people will work as freelancers by the year 2030.

After the talk, the audience had some questions: Who were the experts in the workshop that collected the results? And why the study is so human focused and has not a scenario where the machines do more of the work that humans do today? Juliane Landmann said that the aim of this study is to give a hint to politics what shift within the digitalization will happen in the near future and what challenges have to be discussed.

If you want to know more about the topic, you will find the presentation in German here: Labor_Market_4-0 (in German)

Dr. Juliane Landmann from Bertelsmann Stiftung, Photo: Thomas Mueller
Dr. Juliane Landmann from Bertelsmann Stiftung, Photo: Thomas Mueller
June 3 2016

Welcome to the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016: Luxury Communism

The Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 is kicking off with a speech of Holm Friebe, one of the initiators of the annual summit for the Creative Economy. The three tracks “Cyberprobles”, “Exoskeletons” and “Teknokomrades” on the first day take place in the Neufert-Box in the south of the historical city of Weimar. The box has a modern wood design inside and was built in 1999 for the 100th anniversary of Ernst Neufert. The german architect is well-known as an assistant of Walter Gropius and his thesis about the “Bauentwurfslehre”. The Neufert-Box is also an interesting piece for architects. Contrary to the historical Neufert-building that was built in a meter grid the Neufert-box is constructed in Oktameter design.
 
As multifunctional space for exhibitions, seminars, concerts, presentations and festivities the Neufert box is a perfect place for the interactive talks of the summit. It brings a familiar atmosphere for the talks and the following discussion rounds. Digital Bauhaus Summit sees itself as a boutique conference with not more than 150 participants. With this approach, the participants can have a real exchange of their thoughts and conclusions.
 
At his opening speech, Holm Friebe is talking about some topics of this year summit: the challenges with artificial intelligence and smart machines and how these developments lead to Luxury Communism. In the tradition of Bauhaus, the participants of the summit should ask themselves about the social spillovers of this technological influences in our society. Holm Friebe gives an outlook of the impacts of the summit around blockchain, alternatives to capitalism and the change of society dealing with robots and AI in the future. With this start, we are curious about the talks and the discussions in the next two days in our cosy boutique conference format!
 
Fabian Ebeling and David Torcasso will keep you updated on our blog here:

www.digitalbauhaussummit.de/blog

Kick-Off! Photo: Thomas Mueller
Kick-Off! Photo: Thomas Mueller
May 25 2016

Luxury Communism: All that’s solid melts into Champagne!

Can we imagine living in a world in which profits go not only to a small elite of digital innovators but to the entire society? What if Silicon Valley’s marketing mantra to “make the world a better place” became the true political program of a leisure society based on fully automated wealth?

The Digital Bauhaus Summit 2016 takes up these and similar questions. Luxury communism is the name of the thought experiment that the boutique conference, now in its third year in Weimar, will tackle. Of course there will be workshops and lectures but also an algorithmic Show Gala and our own revolutionary attempt to drown capitalism and the financial crisis with the Slime Economy. High-profile thinkers and critics of the digital era such as Evgeny Morozov, Bruce Sterling, Sarah Sharma, Vinay Gupta, Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino and Mark Fisher will be joining us.
A digital wish list of demands will help kick-start the event: from the nationalization of all social networks to the abolition of the second class in public transport. Over the course of the conference the 150 participants (a.k.a. Luxury Cadre) will work up this catalogue of demands into a Luxury Communist Manifesto, which will outline the contours of a world society aiming to advance the motto “Wealth without Work!” to a civil religion.
 
With these goals in mind, the conference hopes to forge a path into the future that overcomes the seemingly inevitable dystopia created by war, financial crises, and the global rise of populism. At the same time, our luxury communism parade is determined to march resolutely past the infantile utopias of 3D printed urban gardens. In our temporary Kulturpalast, only seriously desirable futures audition for the role of political prima ballerina. Because, as the old Luxury Communist Friedrich Nietzsche famously put it: What good is a revolution where I can’t dance?!
 
Sebastian Olma
 

Under the patronage of

Deutsche UNESCO Kommission

Supported by

Thüringen

Organized by

Media and event partners

brand eins
Bauwelt
Taz
Kulturaustausch
ZKM
Uni Weimar