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ESMOD Berlin Annual Panel - (What Comes After) Metamodernism - Digital Booklet


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ESMOD Berlin is pleased to present a digital publication from our inaugural Annual Panel held in May of this year. The panel discussed (What Comes After) Metamodernism, a term coined to describe the shift in contemporary culture away from the trademarks of post modernism. The panels’ brief was to explore the dominant oscillation in culture between disillusionment and meaningfulness, between apathy and empathy with key questions such as; In what direction are the globalized youth going and why? Where is there an overlap with the recent past? Where do we find a combination in the analog and digital in designing individual concepts of life?

Bringing together experts from across various cultural fields the panel discussion was led by Paul Feigelfeld from the Digital Cultures Research Lab Centre, Leuphana University, and included special guests speaker Alex Lieu, Chief Creative Officer and Lead Design Director of 42 Entertainment based in California. 42 Entertainment are one of the leading companies in transmedia marketing whom blur the boundaries between marketing and entertainment. 42 Entertainment are most well known for their innovative campaign for American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails for their album Year Zero, which extrapolated the theme of a dystopian future beyond the album through leaking unreleased recordings online, and planting USB sticks in the toilets of concerts venues, which lead fans down a thrilling rabbit hole into a world of online and offline acts of underground resistance.

Dealing with the life and work of digital dissents, German Author and Director Angela Richter also participated in the panel discussion. Richter spoke about her time working with Wikileakers Founder and digital activist Julian Assange, of whom she wrote a play Assassinate Assange, premiering in 2012. Other notable panelists included Joerg Koch, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of German culture magazine 032c, as well as Dutch cultural philosopher Robin van den Akker, whom with his colleague Timotheus Vermeulen, coined the term metamodernsm and founded the online magazine Notes on Metamodernsim.

Traversing topics such as sci-fi literature, digital hacktivism, sustainable architecture, fashion and DIY maker culture, the publication aims to capture some of the intense and surprising discussions that took place. The ESMOD Berlin Annual Panel is a program conceived for students from a number of international schools, including L'Institut Francais de la Mode, Paris; ESMOD Berlin International Masters Programme – Sustainability in Fashion, Berlin; and Dessau Institute of Architecture. The booklet also aims to deliver an insight into how the students negotiated the concepts and questions raised during discussion.

Download the digital booklet HERE and for further information please contact Lizzie Delfs, Public Relations Manager, International Masters Programme – Sustainability in Fashion, ESMOD Berlin International University of Art for Fashion, m

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ESMOD Berlin Annual Panel - (What Comes After) Metamodernism - Digital Booklet

  1. 1. I am very honored to present this documentation of our international panel What Comes After (Metamodernism). The booklet aims to capture some of the intense and surprising discussions which took place during our first think tank, as well as gain an insight into how the students, with their varying backgrounds, negotiated the questions and solutions raised during the two day research laboratory. This panel was the first in what will become an annual event at ESMOD Berlin for the International Masters Programme – Sustainability in Fashion. We think it is important to bring together experts and visionaries from different fields outside of fashion, to enrich the students knowledge and engagement with cultural phenomena in our endeavor to provide excellence in fashion education. It was an intensive and inspiring couple of days and I continue to be thrilled by the innovation, creativity and enthusiasm of students. It was a great pleasure to host our special guest speakers as well as students from the L‘Institut Français de la Mode, Paris, as well as the Dessau Institute of Architecture and I would like to thank all who contributed to the success of this event. Silvia Kadolsky Co-Owner and Founder ESMOD Berlin 1 PREFACE
  2. 2. “If you challenge conventional wisdom, you will find ways to do things much better than they are currently done.’’ - Bill James, in Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis The first ESMOD Berlin Annual Panel took place the week of May 9, 2014, hosting an interdisciplinary discussion with guest speakers from a range of backgrounds and specialisations. Titled (What comes after) Metamodernism, the panels’ brief was to explore the dominant oscillation in culture between disillusionment and meaningfulness, between apathy and empathy. The panel employed an explicitly abstract approach, borrowing from diverse fields so that the results can be implemented and utilised across different systems and industries. Everywhere in culture today we are witnessing two distinct tendencies: digital and global on the one hand, and manual and local on the other. (What comes after) Metamodernism investigates these polar inclinations. How do we navigate and reconcile the desire for handmade, multi-sensory experience with the ever-increasing reality of a visual-centric digital world? Key questions for the panellists included: What comes after metamodernism? In what direction are the globalized youth going and why? Where is there overlap with the recent past? Where do we find a combination in the analogue and digital in designing individual concepts of life? Is it possible that terms such as “digital sustainability,” “digital quality,” or “digital/ global truth” are more than simply word plays? The title for the first Annual Panel borrows the term metamodernism from the cultural philosophers whom coined it, Robin van den Akker and Timotheus Vermeulen. In 2009 Van Den Akker and Vermeulen founded the webzine Notes on Metamodernism, where they explore the cultural phenomena and tendencies, which can no longer be explained in terms of the postmodern, and have since been integral voices in the discussion on the developments following postmodernism. We chose this term as it tries to describe how present culture is evolving, and in doing so it speculates about the future. The notion of sustainability has become synonymous with the future; the two ideas are inextricably entangled, pulling each other forward, reverberating into cultural space. We chose this topic for the panel, as we think it is important for the students engaged in a creative education program, to take a step back from being immersed in their projects, to get a better understanding of the cultural milieu that they step into as graduates, which they will go on to practice in, and contribute to. The ESMOD Berlin Annual Panel is a program conceived for students from a number of international schools, including L‘Institut Français de la Mode, Paris; ESMOD Berlin International Masters Programme – Sustainability in Fashion, Berlin; and Dessau Institute of Architecture. Maria Koch, Design Strategies Lecturer Elizabeth Delfs, Public Relations Manager International Masters Programme – Sustainability in Fashion, ESMOD Berlin PANEL BRIEF 2
  3. 3. To ask the question what is metamodernism and what comes after it, we must also ask what it is not and what came before it. If metamoderism is identified as the new dominate shift in collective conscious and cultural output, it is important to consider the movement that precedes it – postmodernism - to begin to understand its characteristics. Late 20th-century art, architecture, design, and literature illustrate that the postmodern aesthetic and philosophy, at its most basic, is typified by pastiche, insincerity, and disillusionment. Where postmodernism takes a sceptical and ironic view, metamodernism takes a sincere and “meaning- orientated” approach. Where postmodernism privileges the scientific, the rational, and the relativity of truth, metamodernism privileges the myth and the mystical. Where postmodernism promotes disillusionment in a crisis-ridden world, metamodernism promotes hope and naivety. To bring the philosophical to the practical, it is important to identify examples of what metamodernsim could be in different cultural forms. The trend of “meaningful media sharing” and “meaningful content making” is apparent in websites such as Upworthy, which launched in March 2012. A platform where images and videos are posted and shared virally through social media, Upworthy promotes “things that matter” and encourages us to “pass them on.” Its stated mission is to host content that it considers to be at the “intersection of the ‘awesome,’ the ‘meaningful,’ and the ‘visual.’ ” Yet despite its broad and vague ideology, Upworthy has quickly gained popularity: in the last two years, it has generated 5.6M “likes” on Facebook. Videos of inspiring events and real-life stories of the “human spirit” overcoming daily or immense obstacles proliferate throughout the website. Emotive recordings of spoken-word poetry slams and meaningful memes get millions of views, likes, and shares. Ironically, one of the founders of Upworthy is a former managing editor of The Onion, a classically postmodern American digital media company that gained popularity in the 1990s because of its cutting satire. Yet The Onion only has 3.5M likes on Facebook, despite having been founded in 1988. We can also identify a shift in cultural concerns if we look at trends in contemporary art and curating and examine them against the postmodern-versus-metamodernism timeline. The Biennale of Sydney—like the Venice Biennale and Documenta—is one of the longest running exhibitions of international art. In the 1980s and 90s, it presented themes such as Vision of Disbelief (1984) and The Readymade Boomerang: Certain Relations in 20th Century Art (1990). Yet since 2000, the Biennale has shifted to more whimsical and celebratory curatorial themes, including (The World May Be) Fantastic (2002), On Reason and Emotion (2004), and, most recently, You Imagine What You Desire (2014). If we consider visual art as a signpost for cultural concerns, and the curator’s role as one that identifies, predicts, and brings together the various thoughts and ideas of the times, then this shift from the ironic to the hopeful becomes apparent. WHAT IS METAMODERNISM? #proudtobeacliche #yolo (you only live once) 3
  4. 4. In music culture, the angst-ridden fuzz and fusion of punk and heavy metal into grunge in the 1990s made Kurt Cobain its unwitting poster boy. Cobain’s music reached disaffected youth internationally, and his violent suicide spurred many subsequent suicides of his dedicate fans. Like Cobain, they saw no hope in the increasingly celebrated capitalism of mainstream society, which actually commodified and popularized the message of depression and disillusionment. Opposite to this is the recent and phenomenally popular Happy by R&B musician and producer Pharrell Williams, which, more than a song, has become a movement. The website is the world’s first 24-hour video, which runs in real time over the course of the day. The video shows a variety of people engaged in daily activities— in the street, restaurants, and sometimes with Pharrell himself—dancing to the song Happy with YOLO (you only live once) joie de vivre. Subsequently the video has spawned a series of imitations posted on Youtube by individuals and communities, who are demonstrating that they are, in fact, happy. Happy to be alive, happy to be dancing, and happy to be connected. Despite its marketing gimmickry, Happy is a piece in the metamodernism puzzle to surpass postmodernism and respond to our present, crisis-ridden moment.1 While metamoderism may be the new dominate shift away from postmodernism, its structure is an oscillation between a modern desire for sense and a postmodern doubt about the sense of it all. Metamodernism vacillates between a modern sincerity and a postmodern irony, between hope and melancholy, empathy and apathy, unity and plurality, purity and corruption, naïveté and knowingness. It moves between craftsmanship and conceptualism, pragmatism and utopianism. Yet although it expresses itself as a dynamic, metamodernism should not be thought of as a balancing. It is rather a pendulum that moves between innumerable poles. Each time the metamodern enthusiasm swings towards fanaticism, gravity pulls it back towards irony; the moment its irony sways towards apathy, gravity pulls it back towards enthusiasm. 2 Text by Elizabeth Delfs 1, 2. Vermeulen, Timotheus and van den Akker, Robin. What is Metamodernism?, Notes on Metamodernism, Published: 15th July 2010, Accessed: 5th February 2014 4
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  6. 6. A graduate from Cultural Studies and Computer Science at Humboldt University, between 2004 and 2011 Feigefeld worked for German media theorist Friedrich Kittler and is one of the editors of his complete works. From 2010 to 2013, he held a teaching and research position at Humboldt’s Institute for Media Theories with Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ernst. Currently working on a PhD thesis titled The Great Loop Forward: Incompleteness and Media between China and the West, Feigefeld was previously a visiting fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences‘ Institute for the History of Natural Science, Beijing. He is also editor of the newly founded open access web journal spheres, that focuses on post-media discourses, politics after the net and digital activism. In addition to his academic work, Feigefeld works as a writer, translator and editor in the fields of art, architecture, design, theory, and philosophy, with publications like 032c, frieze, Texte zur Kunst, Novembre, PIN-UP, Correspondencia, or Modern Weekly China, and publishers like Wilhelm Fink, Merve, Sternberg Press, and Spector Books. Robin van den Akker is a Dutch cultural philosopher working at Erasmus University Rotterdam. He is co-founding editor of the academic webzine ‘Notes on Metamodernism’ and co-coordinator of the ‘Centre for Art and Philosophy’. Van den Akker writes and speaks on metamodern aesthetics and culture, the digitization of everyday life, social space and social time. He acted as an advisor for various art exhibitions and cultural events, most recently the upcoming ‚Metamodern Marathon: The Return of History‘ at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Paul Feigelfeld Academic Coordinator, Digital Cultures Research Lab Centre, Leuphana University (Germany) Robin van den Akker Lecturer, Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands) PANEL LEADER PANEL GUESTS Peter Ruge Architekten is an international architectural and urban design firm with offices in Berlin, Germany and Hangzhou, China. Prof. Peter Ruge has run the company and has over 20 years experience realizing buildings and urban developments across Europe and Asia. He has lectured at various locations and currently he teaches Sustainable Design at Hochschule Anhalt, Dessau Institute of Architecture (Bauhaus). Prof. Peter Ruge Architect, Visiting Professor for Sustainable Design, Dessau Institute of Architecture, (Germany) 6
  7. 7. Currently living between Berlin and Cologne, Richter studied theatre directing with Jürgen Flimm at the Academy of Music and Theatre in Hamburg, and from 1996 to 2000 was a member of the Hamburg based artist group Isotropic Academy. Since 2001 she works as a director. In 2006 she founded the Fleet Street theatre in Hamburg, which she ran until 2010 and is currently one of the four house directors at the Cologne Theatre. In recent years, Richter has worked with such digital activists as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and in 2012 premiered her piece Assassinate Assange. Since then, the director not only visited regularly the WikiLeaks founder in London, but has engaged in panel discussions and in various print media including Der Spiegel, Monopoly, Interview Magazine, Review and Next Society for internet activists and hacktivists. In the season 2014/15, Richter has scheduled a large scale project in co-production with the WDRFernsehen dealing with the life and work of digital dissidents. Pushing the boundaries of traditional entertainment and social gaming while redefining the rules of digital and real-world play, Lieu is constantly searching for new ways to immerse audiences and weave them into fiction. From sending scores of Batman fans to mysterious locations where mobile phones were buried inside Joker- themed cakes, to leading players through a scary dilapidated warehouse leading to an ultra-secret Nine Inch Nails performance, Lieu has pioneered immersive storytelling techniques that blend the digital and real to create „events“ in fictional worlds that attract mass participation. Angela Richter Author and Director (Germany) Alex Lieu Chief Creative Officer and Lead Experience Design Director, 42 Entertainment, (California USA) 032c magazine is a bi-annual contemporary culture magazine that covers art, fashion, and politics that was founded in Berlin in 1999. Since then it has come to be recognized as a leading voice which identifies and shapes trends across fashion, design, architecture, and popular culture at the point of crystallization thanks to Koch’s erudite, intellectual and artistic approach to the industry. Joerg Koch Founder and Editor-in-Chief, 032c (Germany) Delius is a writer, critic and editor for the culture pages of Die Welt. Before embarking on a career in journalism, she completed a doctorate in comparative literature at King‘s College and Stanford. After nomadic years living in London, Palo Alto and New York she is now based in Berlin. Dr. Mara Delius Stanford University, PDH Comparative Linguistics, (Germany) 7
  8. 8. ABBREVIATED TRANSCRIPT (What Comes After) Metamodernism I am very happy to be here to have the honour to moderate this panel which circles around a very new term that Robin has coined recently called metamodernism, and what we would like to fathom today is not only what this term means, but how sustainable it is a terminology, given that this is a course on sustainability in fashion, and also what comes after it if anything can come after it. So first of all I would ask Robin to give a brief introduction of what metamodernism is and how it can be applied to a discourse like this. To begin with a very brief introduction, it might be a good idea to start with the reason why we began to do our research and started to use this term. Around 2008 my colleague was organising a conference on neo-romanticism in the arts, and around the same time we had the financial crisis, which started to envelope the globe and ruin all kinds of pension funds, and throw people out of their houses etcetera. Those two events go on influence the arts…. and developments in the economy and society as a whole. These developments that we saw, could no longer described or explained using all the textbooks that my colleagues and I had been using as students ourselves. So we could not explain what was going on in the world around us by going back to all the theories of the 80s and 90s. As we saw all these things developing, we started to look at what was going on in theory at that time. For example we also had around the same time the Altermodernism exhibition that was curated by Nicolas Bourriaud and a little book about that as well. And we thought that all those different strands, like altermodernism or cosmodernism, for example, did not really reflect that things that were important to us, to people that were from a younger generation born in the 1980s who were coming of age at the turn of the millennium. We thought, one, these terminologies are not entirely correct and two, maybe we could invert the whole process of doing research, instead of us saying, ‘this is how the world looks like’ we said we have the feeling that things are changing. We have the feeling that these things can no longer be described in terms of the postmodern, so let’s use another term… and then try to map collaboratively with people from all kinds of disciplines, such a theatre, media, architecture, fashion etc, what is going on in the world around us, from which the platform Notes on Metamodernism started, and we then wanted to have discussion… to map what is going on in the arts today…. There has also been a different kind of awareness emerging since the early 2000s, and of course it is silly to point to one man, Al Gore – you cannot really do that when you make a cultural analysis, but in a sense he stands for this wider development and awareness that we really need to change our ways if we want to avoid destroying planet earth. And then there are all kinds of geopolitical changes, where the west was once the dominate pole in the geopolitical game, now there are all kinds of new developing nations that are trying to have their own sphere of influence, trying to break the hegemony of Western nations, think of what is happening is Russia for example, or other big countries such as Brazil, China, India. Paul: Robin: 8
  9. 9. So those developments, new generations, new technologies, news phases in capitalist societies in terms of the economy and the institutions that surround it, and the new geopolitical field… those are the structural determinates that indicate that we are not living in postmodern societies anymore, we have moved beyond them. How do you differentiate between classical modernism and metamodernism because metamodernism to me as you have described sounds like modernism 2.0? What you describe to me sounds very much like modernist values and developments. Yes and no. A lot of people are pointing towards to revival of modernist themes in all kinds of art forms and in philosophy there is a return to such philosophers as Kant. So yes this is true, on the other hand you cannot go back to a modernist phase of developments in Western societies or culture. You just cannot do that. The Avant- Garde is a great example. In the modern era you can say as an artist, ‘I am not involved or encapsulated by capitalism or this political system, I am on the margins, I create my own space, I am going to change the world completely’… you could still do that as an Avant-Gardist. Nowadays you cannot do that anymore because you are always complicit and entangled with capitalist social relations, and you have to make all kinds of choices. For example the debate about climate change is a good example. As an Avant-Gardist you can say ‘I am not going to be involved in consumerist society and I am going to create a whole new world where we get rid of this problem of climate change. Now you are faced with all different kinds of choices, for example, I can install solar panels on my roof, but my car still runs on petrol. You are always somehow complicit with organised societies. On the other hand, there is so much information that you can define your position, but as soon as you do that there is something that undermines that position. There is so much information available that you cannot be sure and have this determined fanaticism that a modern Avant- Gardist would have. I think that this is the crucial difference. My next question would be… because I think that the title of this panel sums it up already - we have asked the question what comes after metamodernism so the parable that you were drawing, you have spoken about the necessity of creating a new terminology and a new kind of methodology to work with current phenomena in a very broad sense. Of course the first question that comes to mind is, why replace one term with another one, which is even fuzzier than the one before, and the second one is how do you deal with failure? Because we already asked the question what comes after metamodernism, that already means that the term itself has an expiration date. Yes of course there is an expiration date – I would hope so, because you could say that this is some kind of the fourth step in the development of Western societies, we went from realism to modernism to post modernism in a cultural sense and now we argue that move beyond postmodernism to a metamodernismist structure of feeling and culture. But, inevitably there will be a next step in the evolution of Western societies of course. Joerg: Paul: Robin: 9
  10. 10. Brainstorming map except from the students working on the topic of Publishing. 10
  11. 11. Why we thought it was important to do so (to coin a new term), was because words generate all kinds of connotations, and as I mentioned when I was looking at my text books from my student years, the 90s and early 2000s, and all the theorists of the 80s…could not be applied to the culture around me….and we needed a different discourse. (To come up with a new term) is a powerful gesture and you are inviting people to start to think about it themselves rather than just repeating the things they have been reading that are, as far as I am concerned out dated. I found the term really fascinating, however I wonder if you are proceeding from a very gloomy or too dim notion of postmodernism, and also another simple question; could you please exactly explain what you mean by the use of the term meta because you clearly don’t mean only beyond but you mean in between and I am curious to know exactly what you mean. It is in a sense a very neural term. In Greek, meta also means post… it means beyond a certain stage, a new stage. It also have this connotation of metaxas – from Plato whom coined it, and it is pointing towards an oscillating movement of going back and forth continuously, and we think this is something that we see in all the developments since the early 2000s in the arts and culture. I already made the example of each individual having to make so many choices and finding your position to speak from and then immediately being undermined by immense amounts of information, and that already suggests constant repositioning… But the movement that you describe between this constant oscillation between two different poles is very old fashioned dialectics. Yes it is very much related to dialectics. If you wanted to go into debate about this dialectics, you could say that yes, at the end of the postmodern years dialectics more or less came to a stand still and it became very easy to take a position and to feel comfortable in your consumer bubble, for example. Now when you see that history starts to move again, dialectics may have risen to the surface and be more evident of things, it is more dynamic, and the difficulty to react to that in a coherent way, perhaps indicates this oscillation. I think that this could perhaps be a good time to bring Peter into the conversation, on two different levels. The first one is what we are actually talking about here is the moment of crystallisation, when an attitude becomes a form, which I think is also something that happens in architecture in the design strategies that you use, and I think it clearly manifests and is materialised in the form of a building. And the second thing is that you have to know that Peter has a lot of building projects in China, which is something of a cultural sphere where one could argue that modernism didn’t happen at all. I would like to ask you how do you think these sorts of terminologies manifest in architecture and also can you tell us some of your experience about working in China. Well, to start with one of Robins’ points, where he talks about the crisis, which we can immediately link to China, as in Chinese, the word crisis means chance. And every change of society and in the different challenges we face, in Europe we talk about it as a crisis and in China we talk about it as a chance. Mara: Robin: Paul: Robin: Paul: Peter: 11
  12. 12. This is where the chance is, every new generation, such as modernism, which had the chance to go beyond the forms of histories; there was the chance with new technologies and new generations, about new politics, which have arisen from the crisis, which also reverted back to crisis. I call myself a cultural spy in China because there is the chance of a kind of knowledge, which we have not discovered in our process of doing things, and finding solutions for the challenges of the future and I think these are all linked to feeling, to cultural reflection and how we see ourselves… This point in the developing of the form, it is not international, it is a local thing, and it is linked to the local culture, local history, and it doesn’t matter what size building you are doing, or if you are creating music or a dress, everything must be linked to the local culture and what you find is linked to the power of the enthusiasm that is going beyond modernism, postmodernism and metamodernism, and I don’t think we will find the term from the panel (of what comes after metamodernism) but from the students, who will tell us later.… When I started working in China in 2005 I made a presentation about sustainability, which was not translated into Chinese, and of course I was speaking German, so we were using the term nachhaltigkeit, so – looking forward - and what is very interesting about the Chinese language is that you can immediately translate and create a new word, however it does not have a meaning, and for me that is very interesting. First you have to create the word and then you have to give it a meaning. The process of finding this kind of approach to sustainability, ecological approach to cities and buildings, of course we are creating these words (in Chinese) and society reflects on that and suddenly tries to take these words and use and spread them. We could not do that in German….. (in China) you can create a concept and a new meaning and put it on the market, and this relates to the process, of what you talked about before, of dialectics, and what comes after metamodernism. I think this brings us to a very central point in this discussion which is how we apply language to cultural phenomena, which is basically what you are trying to do – you are trying to describe China – there is something there, but you cannot really do it, and I would like to ask Mara, as she has a background in journalism and language studies, how do you perceive these movements and dynamics and crystallisation of terminologies, when it comes to fashion or design and to cultural phenomena in general. Well that is a very challenging and broad question, but I will try answer it anyway. I think there are two points I would like to make, one is informed by my work as an editor and a writer in the cultural field and the other is more informed by my academic background and my interest in cultural theory. So my first point is a comment on what you just said and the idea that attitude becomes form. I think what we are seeing in at least German cultural reporting is exactly the opposite, where form becomes an attitude, because in journalism right now you see of these changes in the digital field basically and the new challenges in terms of pace and form. So on the one hand you have a need in a way to react to a new mode of perception and pace. At the same time you can observe a strong inclination or longing for slower forms like the long form essay for example, a more content based kind of text. Paul: Mara: 12
  13. 13. Brainstorming map except from the students working on the topic of Entertainment. 13
  14. 14. These are two things that I can observe in my daily work. And my other comment would be about the term metamodernism as such and the way in which is responds to the end of a theory. I found it really useful as it brings new energy into a field, which was left in a very lethargic state after deconstruction and the death of Derrida where we are currently without any master thinkers in a way, and left in a situation without any specific grand theory. In this sense I think it is interesting to look at the term metamodernism as a way of both responding to that state of theory and at the same time evading certain questions. I guess one of the questions I would like to hear more about is about how we frame the term truth and whether metamodernism poses new questions for political situation, is it an ideological term, what is the flavour of that term? I think that my suspicion is that Robin is a true modernist like me but that he tries to come up with a new term because modernism brings certain issues with it, however the point that you made is very interesting because you said now that the form gives the attitude and I feel like the whole notion of what comes after metamodernism is a essentially a modernist project because you still operate on the notion that you can differentiate between past, present and future. But what we experience right now through the digitalisation process, is that there is no future only present and if you try to understand the present you automatically speculate about the future, so this is like a mind blowing experience and we are all trying to grasp to understand it what it means to live (in these times), and that is close to the term metamodernism, but essentially what we should talk about is really the complete acceleration and velocity of all processes happening simultaneously. If you understand the things like Youtube and iTunes did not exist 12 or 15 years ago and now they are dominate distribution forms of creativity – these issues have a tremendous effect on everything. I have two questions connected to that somehow for Angela, the first one would be – you (Mara) were talking about the absence of a grand theory that defines the cultural stage that we are in right now and I would first of all like to ask you (Angela) because you do theatre, how theatre deals with narrative in this kind of volatile situation we are in? And the second question is connected to the practice that Joerg was just describing. You (Angela) recently wrote an article in Monopol Magazine about Julian Assange and you also did play – Assassinate Assange – you said that was most interesting about these types of digital activists is that they simultaneously critique the infrastructures and environments we live in and develop tools to continuously reshape them and (subsequently) theory and practice enter a new stage of feedback with each other. Here in the Western world we are becoming swamped with information as you Robin have pointed out, and we are experiencing a big paradigm shift and we are, in a way in the middle of the future, I think that we as artists or artists in general, or in the field of philosophy when you bring up the point that Derrida died, this kind of entropy is still there…. But at the moment we lack the tools of coping with the situation, we do cope with it but that is why we apply the old methods analytically or dialectically. But the world has changed so even when we apply the old methods, we come to other conclusions. Joerg: Paul: Angela: 14
  15. 15. To come back to your question (Paul) relating to theatre, I started in theatre in the 90s in a collective and we started doing what we could call now post-dramatic theatre, I never really did classical plays, and for me it was very interesting to start to work with hackers because I realised that they are the ones who have the tools to change the world and to cope with this paradigm shift, and even with a term like truth, which is not easy to handle for us, lets say, for people like Julian Assange, they make claims like they have the truth. And when you question them about this and ask what does it mean by truth, he says: “Well I have some documents which have these facts, and this is at least part of the truth…“. I think that these people are weirdly a new form of form follows function, because on an aesthetic level, they are very primitive, but on the other hand they really can penetrate the political and social sphere much more than it is possible for artists today. For me it not only changes the way that I work but it also changed my worldview. And what they have said to me is actually what I do is like hacking because I am trying to change the discussion in the mainstream media about somebody like Julian Assange or wikileaks. I recently did an interview with him (Julian Assange) for Andy Warholes’ Interview magazine, and the purpose was to try and put this person in a completely different context and to try to expose him to another audience and they said this is hacking in a way because you penetrate into a system and try to change or develop things. So hacking as a cultural attitude and also a method of design through subversion. Yes I agree except for one point, I accept that we are swamped in the information overload age, if you will, but I do not see how it would prevent us from developing some kind of idea or ideal about the future, or a grand narrative about where we want to be. The things you describe about what hackers do, this form of adapting and changing the world, criticising but also changing it is actually a form of constructing history, where through trial and error you can try and change the trajectory of the future, however I accept history to be in a permanent state of beta, if you will. Right? Yes So I see here some kind of desire to change, and some kind of conception of where you want to be in the future. And also, relating to your point (Joerg), that I am actually a modernist - I am actually trying to describe the things that I see around and what I see is harking back to modernist forms. And maybe that is the layman’s version of also trying to find words or tools or concepts to help you think about and construct an alternative future. Also when we are really honest about looking at the future, for example when you look at the revelations of Snowden (US whistle blower whom in 2013 leaked the largest amount of confidential files from the NSA in history) – (the future) is really dark because it is not about if people are reading your emails, its more about seeing - what does it mean for the power structure of the world, and when you look closely at the documents and what they say, they say that we are going into a trans-national, there is something forming and merging from the mixture of the mili tary, big companies who provide them with material, such as think tanks etc, and the intelligence Paul: Angela: Robin: Angela: Robin: Angela: 15
  16. 16. agencies worldwide. It is merging into something that doesn’t even have a name; I would describe it as a trans-national totalitarianism, and that is the thing that needs to be stopped. And when you look at it, it is a dark future, and on the other hand I would agree that there is this enthusiasm and that is kind of encouraging in a way. I think what is most discouraging is that we are very late, the emergence that you are describing at the moment is nothing new, because those intelligences companies, agencies and governments have created this infrastructure. The thing is that Snowden actually showed the world an insight into something that people did not imagine. The interesting for thing that Snowden did for creative processes is that he completely changed cyberpunk and sci-fi literature like Bruce Sterling, those guys are all ‘GAME OVER’ because Snowden showed that the present reality is so much more striking, so much more dystopian than they can try to imagine in the literature, so this is just a very concrete example. One important part of this totalitarian complex that you describe is that they are commercial companies that we are embracing like Facebook or Google, in that sense it is not like 1984 (George Orwell), it is more like Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), we are so distracted and seduced by all these technologies that we love to use it, and we feel better because of it, but the result is that there is so much darkness…. Yes, and at the same time we have a maximum amount of personal freedom, in the West, I have to emphasise that. That it is ok to be gay, and that is the trick, you can do whatever you want as long as you do not question too much… I think this is an interesting point in the discussion to bring in Alex, as we have been talking about the analysis of phenomena for quite a while, and Alex who is the Chief Creative Officer at 42 Entertainment, is someone who actually creates phenomena and digital experiences. Maybe you could shed a little light on how truth is created in digital media and how you approach that with different strategies of design. Well, let me start with what my company does and what my role is. We try to take digital experiences and merge them with the real world. Sometimes I describe it as trying to get people to go outside, because we are always in front of our computers and devices and it is so ubiquitous and what does that mean (for our lives). What is interesting is that we play around with collaboration and interestingly, it is collaboration of subcultures, in the entertainment industry but also in the video industry, game world, music world, and also the nerdy comic book world, and it is interesting to watch all these subcultures intersect and see what they do. And so what we do is we try to break the notion of what is digital and how people spend their time. So for example, we did a concept album for Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and we hid clues through all the music and forced people to go out into the real world and find more clues, that ironically enough painted this picture of a dystopian future. I think that a lot of the things that were brought up here are interesting because, a lot of what we are talking about is not a result of the internet exploding, but the information that is being passed along and the access that we have from the internet exploding. I think the most fascinating thing that we have talked about, and we haven’t gotten to sustainability yet, although sustainability feels like Paul: Joerg: Robin: Angela: Paul: Alex: 16
  17. 17. Brainstorming map except from the students working on the topic of Entertainment. 17
  18. 18. it is a result of all these things because we are a world at the edge, is that we talk about disillusionment versus optimism, because I feel like what we are seeing or perceiving of optimism is a feeling of being totally lost as a the culture, like we have never seen before… Talking about music, we can note that music is more optimistic today, but is it really just the natural progression of what music has always done which is challenging what came before it… what I see more than anything in music today is the idea of living in the moment because we don’t know what that future is. And more so than anytime before, we hear the music and themes reflect this, celebrating the moment and it makes me think where is our place? And when we talk about art and terminology, we question is art a reflection of the world today or is it a search for meaning and I feel like right now it is a search for meaning. And the structures that you are talking about… it’s strange to talk about optimism, when you are faced with the dichotomy of there being no hope. In the 60s and 70s we had a notion of hope, now it feels like the power structures on top of us are so crushing, we think well what do we do, and we feel like we cannot see much global change. As an American, we’ve seen this reflected in art and it is an exciting time in art, as what we are seeing is a lot of resurgence of all the arts, there is so much theatre going on, so many galleries popping up so much new music, and in LA at least, which has such an impact on youth culture, because it is such a breeding group for subculture, hidden allies and back streets, places that are revitalising these different areas, that I just mentioned… uh, what was the question again?(laughs) (laughs) No I think you have answered it spot on. About art reflecting society or the search for meaning, for me that is basically the methodology that we use, is that artists are not necessarily reflecting society but that they are mediating the experience of what it means to live in this society today, by relating to the traditions that happened before them, they do it in relating to the world around them, but also through a certain relationship to the future. You said you see a lot of search for meaning, I wouldn’t phrase it as meaning, if that is the case, I would say that is something that we didn’t see in the 80s and 90s where it was all about the deconstruction of meaning or saying that meaning was actually a construction itself, and was totally meaningless and that life had no meaning in this Western society. Well I think they did a good job! Well I think a lot of young people from today would disagree – they would say yes that was a reflection of that time, but this time, with all its problems, needs another attitude. People are saying I want to change the world, but I don’t know how, perhaps they are not doing enough, I think what we are seeing in the arts is a tendency for people to construct communities and engage with society, but it is not enough, that’s true, and perhaps that is the dark conclusion for the analysis that we are making. But anyway it is different now than what was happening before. Paul: Robin: Alex: Robin: 18
  19. 19. …. For every example that you raise, somebody could probably give the opposite, though I completely sympathise, as I said I am a modernist, but I would really say that the lesson of postmodernism is that there is different perspectives on issues and we no longer believe in this grand narrative like the previous generation, so that is why I think when you get back to the idea that metamoderism is something completely new, I am not so sure. I completely appreciate that anyone who works in the creative industry or is involved in producing something, tries to understand the climate and timeframe in which they are operating, at least that is the is the goal of everybody if you want to produce relevant work. And I think that coming up with a term like metamodernism is super productive because the idea of terms or how to apply terms is quite interesting to discuss, I also think the misunderstanding of certain terms of also super productive, you know… I just wanted to make a comment on the notion of not future - I think there is a future, I think it is necessary when you talk about architecture, we are always the guys who believe that we do the good things for the future, for the city, for sustainability, and if you do not have a future orientated perspective you cannot do architecture. It is not an individual thing, to plan a city, there are lots of stakeholders, from the subculture, to the culture, to the politicians, and you have to bring them all together to design a city and if you say there is not future, I think I would stop teaching, no? But you brought up China and I completely disagree about the hope, because new buildings in China are built for a life span of 20 to 25 years before they are destroyed again because it will be replaced by a larger building. The belief that architecture is doing well for the future or is a helpful force is hard to sustain in the face of China and Chinas’ rapid progression and development. Well, if we talk about sustainability, you can ask for example, how can you teach sustainable architecture or fashion? …. The concept is not so much of saying that we are only producing utopian ideas, no, we are developing with the students an idea, a strategy of evaluating the ways in which they are doing it, in the sense that they ask, is my concept the one which is coming closer to the idea of that (utopia)…. And you know there are too many factors that should stop us like climate change or Snowden, which should stop us doing that, however it is the opposite, we ask what is the right method, what is the right approach and criteria for doing that. And under this laboratory box of criteria and evaluation, that is where the sustainability is. I wanted to clarify that I don’t think there is no hope; of course I am very optimistic about the future…. For me, sustainability has developed out of the fact that we see ourselves in a state of crisis, but interestingly enough we are raising new generations who will stop to think about it (sustainability) as a result of crisis, but a way of life. Instead of worrying about the grand theme, they focus on the problems of now, and what is the point I am trying to make, we do have a very optimistic world…. relating to sustainability in fashion, the idea of resuse and recycle and the creativity that is generated from it is an example of this optimism. We have always seen throw backs to different movements in fashion, but I think this is a very exciting movement in fashion, and when you go to a workshop and you see kids working and they are thinking about how they can restructure, reorganise and reuse the materials they have – that is a very positive attitude. Whilst it is not a new movement, we are seeing it globally on a scale we have never before seen in history. Joerg: Peter: Joerg: Peter: Alex: 19
  20. 20. Brainstorming map except from the students working on the topic of Entertainment. 20
  21. 21. I actually recognise this, what you describe, there is also the term upcycling, and you see a lot in the arts today, people going back to traditions, like modernism, romanticism, notions of beauty, out-dated forms…. People are trying to construct something new with the remnants of the past, as it were. For me, what is more exciting within the upcycling movement is the idea of the maker community, and it is also a reaction to being so digital and suddenly we are using our hands to make stuff and the exciting thing for me – which applies to the field I work in, between the digital world and the real world is seeing people make stuff using electronics and technology, as one big tool kit, it is just as common to see people using wearable technologies and mixing all of these things together which is so exciting and optimistic, it feels like we are seeing some new ideas coming out of a dark time. And the digital and material, both are forms of crafting reality, even what hackers are doing, is also a form of craft, all the hours and hours of training in coding, this crafting reality is something that you see across the whole spectrum of culture. I would like to ask Joerg if he could elaborate on this form of both creation and branding which comes into play with a publication like 032c, which I find very interesting because 032c is a nonbrand, because it is a highly subjective thing. 032c is a colour code, and there is nothing more subjective than colour – it is a code, it is standardized, but at the same time it is not really a brand, it is a term that you have and at the same time 032c has managed over the past 10 years to becomes something that crystallizes cultural phenomenon whilst at the same time shaping it in a way like not many other publications have done. So how does this process work in your practice? And you have to know that I used to work with Joerg at the magazine and I never figured out how he does it. Well 032c come into existence as like a research project for myself. We started it as a fanzine and there is a modernist heritage, there was Ulmer Hochschule who did all the amazing designs in the 50s and Dieter Rahms came out of it, and they had colour codes so we thought that was an interesting reference for ourselves. And yet the pantone colour for red is something universally readable so it feels like a very modernist project and in the beginning it was more like a private research – it is a fantastic thing if you want to learn something about the world or meet interesting people around the world, start a magazine. You can contact anybody and mostly people are happy to talk to you. So out of that it grew and in the past 5 or 6 years we have taken it seriously commercially. And I think that as you mentioned it was very hard to understand how the process is and I think there are certain periods when magazines are completely in sync with the times, for instance 032c in the beginning was too advanced, too far away from having a readership, you know coming to a party too early is as stupid as coming to a party too late, so the ideal thing for any creative endeavour is to be completely in sync with the times you live in and the people you want to reach. But again I cannot explain the process because there is not a thorough explanation of how that is possible – we talk to interesting people and when you do this you create interesting results that are relevant for a lot of other people. We started the magazine here in Berlin and I moved to Berlin around the mid 90s and that was a very formative years because there was still there spirit of anything was possible, so Berlin was like this laboratory, with interdisciplinary Robin: Alex: Robin: Paul: Joerg: 21
  22. 22. exchange and collaboration everywhere, which is now the modus operandi. So for me, that just happened really organically in Berlin in the 90s and the magazine lived off it and came of age with it, so we have fashion, architecture, politics, it feels like an organic amalgamation. It wasn’t like formulated on a mood board or something like that. Actually I want to talk now also about fashion because that seems like the one thing we have not talked about which is an essential topic that is why I wanted to talk about design strategies. The question to each of you here on the stage, is could you please make a comment on how all of the strategies we have discussed so far here come into play in creation and design. For me it is strategy and a method of evaluation of the things you are doing and of course what remains after, how much do you consume. I think what we can really learn is that we have all this information and it is all available, and I think this is a big chance. But each person has to develop their own criteria and don’t see sustainability as something that narrows your idea but rather broadens it. I agree with that statement. For me it is interesting to see that we are in a transitional phase and I am curious to see what affect this has on people who are about to create the future of fashion. What I would also appreciate is if all artists could step out of this patronising thing where media and journalists telling us what they have found out for you, as we now have all this material ourselves and I would like people to be sceptical about the patronising act that is still happening in the mainstream, and also to encourage curiosity. And what would this mean for the new designers, to draw your own conclusions by really penetrating deep into material which is normally presented to people to you who know. I think that if sustainable design is used as an aesthetic it is horrendous. I run away! It is kind of like saying I use the Internet for my design, or I Google. I think there is a very interesting development when sustainable design ideas are used in production in big companies like Kering, H&M etc, this has a direct impact. For my perspective sustainable strategies should be completely integrated in every company in every process, but for me I do not like eco-label design stuff. Alex, how could you translate the strategies with which you combine the digital and the real world of fashion? I think that we should just throw all this out the window and you all should just design really amazing military uniforms so when the one world government takes over we at least look good…. I think that in terms of sustainability, what it comes down to, as a people let’s try to get the corporations to make better choices for the earth, and so I would say from a design stand point, what that means be conscious and aware of the decisions you are making and the impact they have to your community and the world. In terms of translating that into a direction of the future of design? Well, for me, whether it is digital or physical, I have always been guided by the same principle. When I walked into a comic book store when I was 9 years old, with my own money, and looking at all the amazing books and stories, and my focus was, what do I buy that is going to be worth something in the future? Paul: Peter: Angela: Joerg: Paul: Alex: 22
  23. 23. I asked the store keeper and he said, don’t worry about that, he said buy what you like, what means something to you and in the future it will be priceless for you. So in term of design aesthetics, the most influential designers, artists, musicians are the people who have an attitude, a point of view, to share, it not about following it is about leading. They have a passion and a vision and they want to share that with other people and I think that is so important. Last question I would pose to Robin, it s a slightly different questions, have we figured out what comes after metamodernism? Ufff, let’s wait and see! Yes of course there will be something, and there will be the young kids out there who will draw up their vision of how they want the world to live today. And that is going to affect our culture and that is the call for young people today – try to have an impact. Think for yourself, work together, be aware of the world around you, be aware of what corporations are doing and global processes of production and consumption and do something about changing it. - ENDS - Paul: Robin: 23
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  25. 25. STUDENTS PROJECTS WORKSHOP BRIEF Following the panel discussion the students were split into groups to discuss with the panellists, a topic in relation to the content from the panel. The groups were asked to define if they chose to work on conceptual level, or on a practical real life situation such as a product strategy. The luxury of the workshop was not to have a predetermined research goal - the research topics should be developed with critical reflection. 25
  26. 26. OPEN SPACE Lead by Prof. Peter Ruge and Mayouri Senghchan Ieva Jurgaityte, ESMOD Tanja Wegener, ESMOD Monica Pieracka, ESMOD Gudrun Larusdottir, ESMOD Mathilde de Beauchêne, IFM Cheuk Nam Mak, IFM Amrita Casie-Chetty, IFM Florence Linder, IFM Fu Rao, DIA PROJECT STATEMENT In the year 2040 cities will be dramatically overcrowded. Considering the notion of Open Space, we wanted to create an experience led capsule, which senses the needs of the user and responds by creating an environment to meet the needs. For example of you are feeling stressed you can have the capsule create an environment which gives the feeling of being in nature. We could place the capsules in places like cities centre, malls, trains, etc. The capsules will engage the five senses to create a virtual reality to meet the needs of the user in any moment. The user can experience the capsule with other people, or alone and be connected with other users having a similar experience but perhaps in a different city or country. This idea tries to reconcile the notion of intimacy versus public space. 26
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  38. 38. ENTERTAINMENT Lead by Dr Mara Delius and Alex Lieu Ferisa Natassa, ESMOD Maira Goldschmidt, ESMOD Danijela Simonovska, ESMOD Anna Perrotett, ESMOD Tiantian He, IFM Vinicius Meireles, IFM Marie Paquin, IFM Fanny Braun, IFM Florence Linder, IFM Zhu Weiqian, DIA PROJECT STATEMENT Our idea was to create an app, which blends elements of shopping, blogging, and entertainment to allow young fashion followers to have the instant gratification of fast fashion but with a sustainable approach. Derived from the idea that we all have too much stuff, the app acts as an online wardrobe where users can see and swap garments with their friends. Users post photos of the garments they own and are able to see the wardrobes of others. People can like, comment and choose products to swap. Users are able to change and update their wardrobes quickly, without having to buy more products, which also reduces waste. To launch the app we would approach fashion bloggers whom have an international profile to promote the app. 38
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  50. 50. PUBLISHING Lead by Robin van den Akker and Joerg Koch Rahel Guiragossian, ESMOD Theresa Krönung, ESMOD Gudrun Larusdottir, ESMOD Ina Budde, ESMOD Juliette Teulier, IFM Florence Linder, IFM Maxime Bréavoine, IFM Anne-Laure Silvestre, IFM Odunlami Ojuolape, DIA PROJECT STATEMENT Publishing of the future needs to adapt to the society it is surrounded by and needs to evolve with it. This project offers a business model and project development, which aims to reflect the rapidly changing, fast-paced saturated climate the next generation is growing up with. Our project is about encouraging individuality and providing tools to customize media outlets to fit their needs and interests, and to support them by providing spaces where they can find like-minded people and share interests, ideas and skills. 50
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  68. 68. SEMANTICS Lead by Paul Feigelfeld and Angela Richter Natacha Aedo Duran, ESMOD Tatenda Chidzidzi, ESMOD Rahel Krapick, ESMOD Renata Hori, ESMOD Sofiane Jean Kissar, IFM Catherine Dorr, IFM Emmanuelle Tsouza, IFM Alicia Jacquet, IFM Mina Maskarani, DIA Tijana Savic, DIA Neeta Paul, DIA PROJECT STATEMENT The term metamodernism is still too complex and very intellectual to bring a real significant meaning to people. It is a mix of attitudes and behaviors related with past and future movements. After discussions we have decided to come up with a new term. Something completely new but able to define what comes after the metamodernism. THE PROCESS We deconstructed the existing term to create a new one. The use of key words like sustainability, chaos, paradox, network, technology and so on was the base of our brainstorm. After an extensive study to achieve the best sound and writing we came up with a new word that fits the core of our idea. The new term behavior fits the existing needs and people’s future reality. Everything moves, everything changes; everything comes back. THE SOLUTION The palindrome idea creates a link between the existing term and the new one. It is a circular movement that involves past, present and future giving a cyclical meaning to the term. THE NAME SYMYS, a reality in constant revolution 68
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  80. 80. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The 2014 Annual Panel was lead and initiated by Maria Koch, Design Strategies Lecturer, M.A. Programme – ESMOD Berlin. For contributing their time and expertise to the event ESMOD Berlin would like to thank Mayouri Sengchanh, Paul Feigelfeld, Robin van den Akker, Joerg Koch, Alex Lieu, Dr Mara Delius, Prof. Peter Ruge, Angela Richter, Rebekka Oltay, Lilian Killie and David Zajtmann. PARTICIPATING STUDENTS ESMOD Berlin Ieva Jurgaityte Tanja Wegener Monika Pieracka Gudrun Larusdottir Ferisa Natassa Maira Goldschmidt Danijela Simonovska Anna Perrotett Rahel Guiragossian Theresa Krönung Gudrun Larusdottir Ina Budde Natacha Duran Tatenda Chidzidzi Rahel Krapick Renata Hori L‘Institut Français de la Mode Mathilde de Beauchêne Cheuk Nam Mak Amrita Casie-Chetty Florence Linder Tiantian He Vinicius Meireles Marie Paquin Fanny Braun Juliette Teulier Florence Linder Maxime Bréavoine Anne-Laure Silvestre Sofiane Jean Kissar Catherine Dorr Emmanuelle Tsouza Alicia Jacquet Dessau Institute of Architecture Fu Rao Zhu Weiqian Mina Meskarani Tijana Savic Neeta Paul Odunlami Ojuolape The International Masters Programme – Sustainability in Fashion takes a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to fashion education unifying research, practice, design and business to inspire students to explore future driven solutions with critical rigor, combining innovation with desirability. ESMOD Berlin International University of Art for Fashion Prof. Dr. Gisela Klann-Delius, President Silvia Kadolsky, Co-Owner & Founder Görlitzerstraße 51, Berlin, 10997 +49 30 612 85110 / / Get regular program updates on our online M.A.’GAZINE at Transcribed and edited by Elizabeth Delfs Graphic design by Eyal Ron Published October 2014, ESMOD Berlin