fluctuating images is a platform for the presentation of and reflection on (media) art and design. Our aim is to foster a fruitful exchange between aesthetic and discursive approaches to the multilayered challenges presented by our technology- and media-driven world from a global and decolonial perspective. fluctuating images manifests itself mainly through screenings, talks, lectures, performances, and concerts, as well as printed and online publications. Our working method relies on collaborations between individuals, groups, and institutions, locally as well as internationally.
When fluctuating images opened its doors in the red light district of Stuttgart in March 2004, media art already had its acknowledged place in the art world. Nevertheless, the second part of the gallery name, “contemporary media art,” created some telling confusion. Visitors and the local press often described the venue as a “media gallery” or “media space,” unwittingly taking up a critical point of the discussion around media art: its focus on the technical aspect. The art drops out of the picture and all that remains is the (new) media . . . This very reductive notion of media art, however, has always been contested by art theorists and artists who feel that the exclusive focus on new media should be replaced by an analysis of specific artistic ways of dealing with the media—digital and analog—in general. Accordingly, fluctuating images started as a platform for contemporary works of art that added new and innovative perspectives to this kind of self-reflecting mediality. The aim was not only to present an aesthetic reflection on mediality, but to supplement it with scientific analysis, to create an interface between art and science. Based on this conceptual framework, fluctuating images developed some distinctive areas of interest: our early curatorial involvement with VJing grew into a focus on artistic audiovisual practices which resulted, among other things, in a two-year curatorial research project on visual music (2007–2008) and the publication Audio.Visual—On Visual Music and Related Media (2009). This research focus subsequently led us to explore intersections between the field of audiovisual production and other practices such as performance, dance, design, and architecture.
In 2009, fluctuating images moved to Berlin and soon found a new home at General Public, an independent project space run collaboratively by a group of cultural workers, including visual artists and curators. These new surroundings proved very productive for fluctuating images’ transdisciplinary outlook and resulted in a focused exploration of the considerable changes that artistic approaches within our fields of interest have undergone over the last years. Our world has become decidedly post-digital, we no longer follow the glossy dream of the digital revolution, but its less shiny “afterglow,” to quote the title of the 2014 transmediale. Post-digitality not only implies the natural co- and cross-existence of the digital and the analog—which has always been at the core of our critical analysis of mediality at fluctuating images—but also points to the very material side of digital immateriality: its political, geopolitical, and geophysical effects. The Anthropocene has become our condition of life, which is why this condition must form the basis from which fluctuating images conceptualizes its reflections on developments in art, design, and architecture.
The loss of General Public as a home base in 2015 due to the effects of gentrification in Prenzlauer Berg (see: http://www.generalpublic.de/nc/current/events/article/19/pressemitteilung-no-space-for-gp.html) has led us to take up our current mode of functioning as a sort of homeless “free radical,” collaborating with different partners depending on the respective occasion and event. Among the venues we regularly collaborate with in Berlin are Echo Bücher and ACUD MACHT NEU. The change of context and allies has also brought us into contact with new lines of questioning and areas of research. Thus, the record label Global Pop First Wave was founded, and we started the still ongoing research project Different by Design. Here we engage in a critical review of contemporary design approaches that aim to change (or to save) the world and their translation into practical projects, analyzing them against a broader backdrop of theories that can be deemed especially relevant for design considerations in a post-globalized world, such as the Anthropocene, or post- and decolonial theories.