CTM Festival Milestones

CTM's 20th edition took place 25 January - 3 February 2019. Here is a brief survey of the festival's history and its main contributors.

CTM.99. The first edition of the festival (then named club transmediale) in 1999 was held at the old (now demolished) location of club Maria am Ostbahnhof. The festival was conceived as a one-off special programme for the transmediale festival, where it was intended to throw some light on the new and rapidly expanding spectrum of artistic projects that had emerged from the techno movement and progressive digitalization at the interface of media arts, electronic music and club culture. The idea fell on fertile ground – evidently CTM had struck a nerve at the right moment and aptly identified the needs and interests of artists and the public. CTM.99 was titled 10 Tage an der Schnittstelle von Bild und Ton (10 Days at the Interface of Sound and Image) and was organized by Jan Rohlf, Marc Weiser, Lillevan Pobjoy and Timm Ringewaldt, with contributions by Oliver Baurhenn and Remco Schuurbiers.
In 2000 CTM.00 – Get Personal! took place in an empty office space with a superb view on Berlin's Alexander Platz on the 7th floor of the Haus des Lehrers – the former GDR training (and indoctrination) centre for teachers. We still did not think of it as a festival, but a sequel of the project begun in 1999. The team consisted of Jan Rohlf, Marc Weiser, Oliver Baurhenn and Remco Schuurbiers – the constellation that would run the festival until 2005.

2001 we couldn't realise the festival due to lack of funding.

2002 saw us re-appear on the surface, this time at E-Werk, an abandoned, wrecked power station, which housed Berlin's legendary E-Werk club from 1993 to 1997. CTM.02 – Go Public! was not only the most adventurous in terms of location, but, spanning 13 days, was also the longest we ever held. 

With CTM.03 – Play Global! the festival returned to Maria am Ostbahnhof, at its second location (now Yaam, after some years under the name of club Magdalena) – and stayed there until 2009. A number of additional locations were added each year, including: Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg Platz, Carl Zeiss Grossplanetarium, General Public and others. CTM.03 was the first time we decided to apply for support from public funding bodies – which turned out to be succesfull. The result was our first focus on experimental and electronic music in eastern and south-eastern Europe Go East!.

CTM.04 – Fly Utopia! was held again at Maria am Ostbahnhof. Meike Jansen joined the team as a guest curator contributing to our focus Performing Sound, which resulted in the publiction of the book Gendertronics – Der Körper in der Elektronischen Musik (The Body in Electronic Music). We continued our regional focus on eastern Europe with the programme Go Further East!.

CTM.05 – Basics saw an expansion of the programme, featuring a larger variety of musical styles than ever and especially integrating more and more musical hybrids, shifting the foucus from strictly electronic and digital music to the interplay of electronic and acoustic practises. Part of that development was a focus on the Nordic region, aptly titled Splendid Isolation, as well as the first edition of our Wasted series on hard and fast musics (continued till 2008), created together with Jason Forrest and Peter Votava. After the 2005 edition Marc Weiser left the curatorial team of CTM to focus on his own music.

Consequentially, for CTM.06 – Being Bold! we changed the festival's subline from Festival of Electronic Music and Related Visual Arts to Festival of Adventurous Music and Art, emphasising our preference of specific contents, attitudes or methodologies over particular formats or genres and opening-up the festival to the full range of today's music production. CTM.06 saw the first of three (till 2008) Handclaps film programmes, put together for the festival by Tim Tetzner.

CTM.07 – Building Space highlighted The Blind Spot, a joint project with Ultrahang from Budapest, funded by the German Cultural Foundation, that facilitated an extensive exchange between artists and organisations from Germany and Hungary. Another collaboration project was the workshop/performance programme Liquid Space together with LAb[au] from Brussels.

CTM.08 – Unpredictable included the project Generator.x 2.0 by Marius Watz and our first collaboration with Martin Howse, the workshop/laboratory xxxxx, both at Ballhaus Naunyn. Another highlight was a programme contributed by Tuned City (Carsten Stabenow and Carsten Seiffarth) exploring the relation of sound, architecture and city planing. The exhibition Unpredictable Encounters at General Public marked the endpoint of an artistic exchange project with polish and german artists conceived in collaboration with Unsound Festival from Krakow.

CTM.09 – Structures marked our 10th anniversary and saw our first exhibition at now beloved partner Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien (within Kunstquartier Bethanien), curated in collaboration with Carsten Stabenow of Dock e.V. / Tuned City. In 2009 the festival hosted for the first time a working meeting of the international festival network ICAS / ECAS, welcoming more than 30 festival producers from Europe, North- and South America. 

CTM.10 – Overlap took place in the then re-opened, but shortlifed WMF club at the heart of Berlin Alexanderplatz, and at the nearby HBC. Guest curators included Thorsten Wiedeman of A.Maze. Around the corner of .HBC, in an empty loft, the dutch art organisation <>TAG produced the exhibition Esemplasticism as part of CTM. Robert Henke and his students of the Soundstudies department at the University of Arts showed a selection sound works in the same building.

WMF closed it doors again not much later, and so we had to reorganise our concept once more for CTM.11 – #Live!?, this time deciding for a more distributed festival that took place at up to ten venues, mostly located in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg – namely HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Maria am Ostbahnhof, Festsaal Kreuzberg, West Germany, Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berghain and more. Guest curators for our conference at the HAU where Sandra Naumann and Jan Thoben, <>TAG again contributed an extensive exhibition titled Alles Was Sie Über Chemie Wissen Müssen.

With CTM.12 – Spectral we stabilised collaborations with HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berghain and Kunstquartier Bethanien as the Festival's main locations. Andreas L. Hofbauer and Annie Goh joined the team as guest curators for the discourse programme, Michail Stangl provided contributions to the music programme, while Thibault de Ruyter curated the exhibition Ghosts Off the Shelf.

CTM.13 – The Golden Age returned to main venues HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berghain, and Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, while also venturing into Stattbad for the first time and producing a special concert at the Funkhaus Nalepastraße, home of the DDR National Broadcasting Corporation until 1990. This edition saw the first instalment of the Musicmakers Hacklab, a 6-day collaborative environment created in collaboration with Peter Kirn of Create Digital Media and which continues to return to CTM yearly until the present. Michail Stangl joined the curatorial team of the music programme.

Celebrating 15 years, CTM 2014 – Dis Continuity assembled over 200 artists from 33 countries. The festival took place at return venues HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berghain, Stattbad, and Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien. Several premieres of commissioned works were held this year, either through CTM's new Berlin Current initiative or the CTM Radio Lab (an initiative with Deutschlandradio Kultur, which continues until present day). The MusicMakers Hacklab returned for a second successful edition, this time culminating in a packed final performance. To commemorate 15 years, CTM also notably produced an in-depth magazine of features, essays, and pieces from invited artists and specialists in lieu of a regular festival catalogue. An impressive constellation of programme collaborations with PAN, Editions Mego, Kees Tazelaar, Dock e.V., Mikko Ojanen, Andrej Smirnov, and ReNoise added an especially rich diversity of musical viewpoints to the 15th edition.

CTM 2015 – Un Tune engaged with the direct bodily effects of frequencies, sound, and music as well as with their synergistic effects with other sensory stimuli. Consolidating the attendance numbers from its 15th edition, the festival took place over 10 days at return venues HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berghain, and Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, as well as new venue YAAM.

CTM 2016 — New Geographies examined today’s rapidly collapsing borders and emerging new hybrid topographies, as well as the tensions and essentialist backlashes that arise as a response to these changes. Voices and sound cultures emanating from less familiar countries and localities and operating on the fringes of the electronic circuit were featured in greater numbers than ever before. The festival visited new venue Werkstatt der Kulturen for the first time. The 17th edition’s music programme was elaborated in collaboration with guest co-curator Rabih Beaini, while the exhibition and discourse programme was created in collaboration with Norient (Network for Local and Global Sounds and Media Culture). A micro-residency programme for 15 emerging artists/students of sound art was held during the festival, in cooperation with Humboldt University and the SoCCoS – Sound of Culture Culture of Sound network.

Under the title Fear Anger Love – CTM 2017 focused explicitly on radical forms of musical expression and dissonant emotions found in or through music and examined the diverse strategies that are applied to unleash or harness them. The CTM exhibition, curated by Carlos Prieto Acevedo, focused on music and sound art in Mexico, while the Research Networking Day was rebooted through guest curation by Dahlia Borsche (Humboldt University's Department of Musicology). The CTM MusicMakers Hacklab celebrated its 5th year within the festival programme.

CTM 2018 – Turmoil inquired into the potential of sound and music to invigorate resilience and awareness at a time when we have begun normalising the ongoing barrage of political, social, and environmental crises. What is the sound of turmoil? What are aesthetics of tumult? A focus on the intersection of sound and movement included a retrospective on Ernest Berk by Company Christoph Winkler, and works by Lotic & Roderick George, Rashaad Newsome, and Hitmakerchinx & DJ Aaron. An A.I. in music was explored via the MusicMakers Hacklab and various performances and talks. Partner programmes included the SKALAR installation at Kraftwerk Berlin, and concerts in 4DSOUND at MONOM.

For CTM 2019 – Persistence, the festival examined the aesthetic and societal potentials and pains of perseverance, and of its opposite: the transient and the provisional, considering the struggles that come with balancing continuity and changeability. The edition welcomed a number of artists and projects grappling with such questions, such as Brazilian MC Linn da Quebrada, Georgia's Bassiani crew, Maja S.K. Ratkje and Katarina Barruk, and more. As part of the Nusasonic initiative, a number of artists from Southeast Asia took part in the festival, including the likes of Gabber Modus Operandi and Setabuhan. CTM 2019 also hosted the Berlin premieres of certain SET x CTM commissions, debuted Nik Nowak's latest sonic tank, and brought a Skatehalle to Berghain. 

CTM has gained a unique profile and the reputation of being one of the most important international festivals both for state-of-the-art electronic and experimental music and for the manifold artistic activities that unfold in the context of sound and club culture. We keep developing the festival and its formats, collaborating with various guest curators each year.