In the summer of 2007 the Russian research vessel "Akademik Fjodorow" was dispatched on a geo-physical expedition to the North Polar Sea. Accompanied by the ice breaker 'Rossija' the crew released 'Mir 1', an unmanned remote controlled mini-submarine, which placed a small titanium flag of the Russian Federation on the rocky seabed 4200 m directly below the still impermeable ice cap at the Earth's geographic North Pole. This act, seen by many as a symbolic act of national sovereignty beneath international 'waters' coincided with the first recorded freeing up the historical Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic - a centuries old sought after 'short cut' between Asia and Europe. These events, the first tangibly visible result of presumed climatic change in the North, and the subsequent first 'volley' in the forthcoming political jockeying resultant of such change, have become the potent and symbolically charged indicators of the pending challenge to the global transformation that looms in the wake of climate change. The planting of the flag becomes the political consequence of a natural phenomenon caused by industrial society's technological intervention in the Earth's physical infrastructure.
Looking beyond the evolving alarmist scenarios of environmental catastrophe prevalent in the global warming debate transmediale.09 shifts the focus of this challenge to the broader cultural, societal and philosophical consequences that the collapse of the northern ice barrier reveals. Are we about to reach another historically succinct moment of unavoidable and revolutionary change - a point of no return leaving in its wake an unforeseeable global transformation akin to the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago - a time in which we realised that 'everything will be different without knowing how everything will be different'?
In the search for the Deep North, transmediale.09 seeks the paradoxical and global consequences, the re-orientation, shifting of perspectives and means to interact with the issues of cultural and technological development, innovation and creative sustainability lurking below the surface of climate change. Deep North becomes not a fixed location, but a paradigm transforming loss into a complex state of being and cultural development - an indicator of fusing location with global introspection. In the real and metaphorical breaking open of the both the North and South polar zone's locked and inaccessible mysteries we discover both new dangers and opportunities. Reinforcing the sense that the Earth acts a truly global system of interrelated events where a shift in the perception and attitudes towards cultural interdependencies become critical, Deep North is a call to artists, media activists and cultural practitioners to explore the roles that art and digital culture play in defining new media strategies beyond the rhetoric of climate change. Deep North focuses on the remote, silent ... indeed deep - zones of artistic and cultural sensibilities and processes of transformation from the arctic to the desert, from the depths of network practice to the remote constructs of scientific and technological systems.
As our sense of the natural environment vanishes to be replaced by models, projections and technological mimicry the need to fundamentally transform cultural thinking by applying, adapting and exploring the creative use of technology to critically affect our means of communication, interaction and perception increases ... in the Deep North of our global cultural awareness.