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Program | Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017 | Being Modern

Being Modern

Modern life is rubbish. Or is it? Being modern seems to have gone out of fashion and to be 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.

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?

It is time to revitalize modernism’s old rallying cry of “Make it new!” and apply it to the notion of “being modern” itself. The ideas of the Bauhaus, once the epitome of modern lifestyle, are the starting point for reconsidering the concept of “being modern”. In its fourth year, the Digital Bauhaus Summit investigates past, present and future modes of being modern: as aesthetic practice and as structure of feeling, in digital culture as well as in architecture and urbanism, in the arts as well as in fashion, design and food culture.

Friday, June 16, 2017
Neufert-Mansion, Weimar-Gelmeroda

Track 1: Where Are We Now?
Hosted by Philipp Albers

In the current post-digital, post-contemporary, post-everything moment it seems that all sense of direction is lost and that intellectual discourse has run out of unifying names to designate today’s zeitgeist. Have we left the modern era behind us for good, or can we resuscitate the modernist impulse? This track aims to rethink the attitude of being modern in theory, art and practice. We will take a look at the big picture, discussing frameworks for theorizing the present and their various isms, posts and metas. But we will also zoom in on specific phenomena of contemporary culture and modern aesthetic practice, such as documentary portrait photography of the 1920s and its reappropriation in the age of Instagram. Examining the relation of art and technology, the track asks: What are current practices of experimentation? Where are spaces for the next or even the new? What comes after Post-Internet Art? Where are we now?

Timotheus Vermeulen (University of Oslo)
Melanie Bühler (Curator, New York)
Stephan Porombka (Berlin University of the Arts)

Track 2: What Will Be Contemporary?
Hosted by Anne Waak

The avant-gardes of the 20th century by definition and name put themselves at the forefront of a progress imagined as linear. Since then, the traditional line-up of artistic disciplines has been vastly expanded, including fields such as fashion, food, drugs, perfume and an overall design of the self. At the same time it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell where “ahead of the curve” is located. In discussions with experts from the different fields we will explore how we will look, smell, eat, think and work in the future.

Barbara Vinken (Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich) 
Benedikt Sarreiter (Expert on psychedelic substances, Munich)
Geza Schön (Perfumer, Berlin)

Track 3: Modern Talking 
Hosted by Claudia Brückner

Following the Bauhaus tradition, we will investigate questions about being modern not only theoretically, but practically and hands-on: instead of only talking, we will also be experimenting, making and breaking things. 
This track complements and counters the other tracks: running without designated speakers, without a strict schedule and without a specific room. It is open to all Digital Bauhaus Summit participants and invites them to bring their ideas, thoughts & questions. Providing space and time to elaborate on previous talks and delve deeper into topics, for discussions and exchanges with speakers and fellow participants.

Ongoing activities
Photostudio: People of the 21st Century (Stephan Porombka)
Modern Bottle Post (Claudia Brückner/Tina Weber)
Modern Voices – Soundbites from the Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017 (Jeanette Iris Mooney)
Breathing In The Time Of Social Media (Renee Carmichael)

Further activities
12:30 – Talking Post-Truth Society (Louis Klein)
14:30 – Roundtable: Future is not an Option (taz.meinland)
14:30 – Modern Talking out of the bag (Elena Schmitz)
16:00 – Eclectic Memory Game of Modernism (Katharina Meyer)
16:00 – Modern Matters: An Experiment in Data Visualisation (Tugce Karatas)

Evening Walk from Gelmeroda to Weimar
Walking Is Thinking 

with Rafael Horzon and Jörg-Uwe Albig

Evening Program at Nivre Studio, Weimar
Tales of Thuringia

The Peasants’ War, jews, nobility, workers movement, arts, class struggle and wars – a  strange look at Thuringia by a passionate storyteller. 
with Jutta Ditfurth

Saturday, June 17, 2017
E-Werk Kesselsaal, Weimar

Conference – Morning Session
MoM – Museum of Modern
Hosted by Holm Friebe

“Is Modernity our Antiquity?” was the motto-question of documenta XII – and we take up the thread and spin it further (or “Furthur!” as the Merry Pranksters had it written on their bus). How did the modern world emerge? History is a dirty joke: Crisis, downfall and turmoil have always been catalysts for bursts in the progress of modernisation. Starting from the small Ice Age in the 18th century during the Industrial Revolution to the Vertigo Years of WW I and II. We can strongly feel the echoes today in times of a perceived global crisis. But the promise of modernity is not entirely corrupted; things might eventually get better. We shall not stop short at “degrowth”, nor jump to the snap-solution of “basic income.” There are more interesting things to discover in the new wing of the MoM. For a postcapitalist perspective we might listen to weak signals we receive from the non-Western world: Lightweight communal buildings and structures in Sub-Saharan Africa are subsumed under “African Bauhaus”; "buen vivir" is a new chiffre for a community-centric, ecologically-balanced “good life” in Latin America: wellbeing beyond individual “wellness”.  Sounds promising? Let’s pack our Rimowas, take the supersonic plane and go there to learn more!

Philipp Blom (Historian and author, Vienna)
Raul Zelik (Political Scientist and writer, Berlin)
Maik Novotny (Architect, Vienna)
Eckhart Nickel (Journalist and writer, Frankfurt am Main)
Eva Rapp-Frick (Art Historian, Head of Karl Ernst Osthaus-Bund / Hagen)

Conference – Afternoon Session
Peak Individualism
Hosted by Holm Friebe

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.

Timo Daum (Physicist, lecturer, author, Berlin)
Katja Kullmann (Journalist and writer, Berlin)
Emily Segal (Artist, author, consultant, Berlin)

Archive of previous Digital Bauhaus Summits
2016  2015  2014

Under the patronage of

Deutsche UNESCO Kommission

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Uni Weimar