Though Telekommunisten has been a participant in transmediale in some capacity for several years now, this year, as a partner of the festival, was by far our largest involvement to date.
The Octo P7C-1 installation, was not only loud, active and physically huge, occupying the entire building with about a kilometer of tubing, 8 end stations and the P7C-1 central operating station, but the project was also the largest collaboration, both with the number of members of the Telekommunisten network involved, and the number of partners involved.
Kristoffer Gansing and Tatiana Bazzichelli came to us in August of 2012, since R15N was the Official Miscommunication Platform of the previous year’s festival, they wanted to work with us early, as a partner, to plan the Miscommunication Platform for the upcoming transmediale, they shared the #BWPWAP theme with us, and asked us if we could do something with a pneumatic tube theme, since we had discussed our mutual admiration for the technology and interest in Berlin’s system on previous occasions.
None of us knew yet what Octo would become.
As the latest installment in the Miscommunication Technologies series, certain components of the artwork where evident from the beginning. Octo is perhaps the most clear demonstration of a centralized topology possible, and so the idea of Octo as a global domination minded start-up seeking to capture physical delivery by offering a business model based on control of user data and interaction. Once again, Telekommunisten designer-in-chief Jonas Frankki, created the graphic identity of the work, brilliantly using a cartoon octopus with a peculiarly neutral expression to express both the topology and global domination ambitions of the start-up.
However, Octo is more than just a social fiction or electronic telecommunication system, its very physical, and actually engineering a large scale pneumatic post system was the largest undertaking Telekommunisten has attempted to date.
Fortunately, electronic artist Jeff Mann, inventor-in-chief, had some experience with this. Jeff’s work draws out tensions between notions of utopian industrialism, personal theatre, and the evocative enigma of electronic equipment.
Jeff invented what was to become the Octo P7C-1 system, suggesting that we could use plain-old vacuum cleaners and drainage pipe to build the system. We demoed Jeff’s concept at a ReSource Transmedial Culture event and it was clear that this was not only going to work as pneumatic system, but also as a wonderful sculptural and audio installation. It was everyone’s first glimpse of Octo. We where all convinced and excited.
Next, we needed to prove the concept to Raumlaborberlin, the transmediale architects, and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
Using one of the Shop-Vacs that was later to be installed in the central operating station, we propelled a full 500ml can of beer through 50m of drainage pipe stretched across the Podewill courtyard, up into a 3rd story window, and down the hall.
Amazingly, it worked! Not only did it work, but it looked and sounded great.
Over the next next few months, right up to the last minutes before transmediale 2013 opened it’s doors, we worked with the HKW and Raumlabor, who designed the chaotic alignment of the tubes throughout the building, and created the 8 end stations. Jeff, drawing on his research into the nature of technological life and its cultural representation, designed and built the beautiful P7C-1 central operating station, which was almost certainly photographed more that Mount Fuji during the run of the festival.
And though the physicality of the work is on a scale much larger than any previous Telekommunisten work, the performative aspect of Octo was also more prevalent.
Telekommunisten director-in-chief, Baruch Gottlieb directed the many facets of the project towards a coherent whole, bringing new emphasis to the performative fiction aspect of Telekommunisten’s work though the lens of his concept of the biographical chronicle of labour. All the transmediale volunteers that operated the central station and attended to the end-stations, and all building maintenance staff that was constantly adjusting tubes throughout the building extended the work as labour theatre. Baruch worked closely with long time member of the Telekommunisten network, Diani Barreto, to create the character of Octavia Allende Friedman, CEO of Octo Corporation, a character which Diani played to great affect, both in person at Transmediale, and online, as a social media power house, who amassed well over a thousand friends and followers in just a couple of weeks.
It was also our first time working with Julian Gough, who played the role of Octavia’s personal biographer, a role we all hope we he will reprise as the legend of Octavia goes on.
As usual, Telekommmunisten Chief Communication Officer Mike Pearce, helped make our message simple and concise, while Chief Operations Officer Rico Weise handled our administrative work.
Although you kinda had to be there to really get it, we’ve collected some pictures and videos here:
I can’t thank everybody enough for helping us pull this off!
We’re very interested in showing the work again, so we encourage adventurous curators to contact us.
And yup, I’ll be at Stammtisch tonight at 9pm, so come have a drink with us.