From Clay Tablets to AI: Forms of Communication

From Clay Tablets to AI: Forms of Communication

“Lanah? Lanah, we’ve lost you again.” The face of the archaeologist Lanah Haddad, who is brought in from Iraq via Zoom, is frozen on the screen stretched out in TON1. The irony of the situation is hard to miss on this evening, which is themed “From Clay Tablets to AI.” Ayham Majid Agha, the curator of the event series, smiles: “How else could we have explained AI better?”

An Interdisciplinary Approach

During the evening, in dialogue with the guests, we reflected on how we communicate with each other – sometimes from an artistic or academic perspective, and other times through lectures and performances. The performance artist Tiara Roxanne kicked things off with a lecture on the grammar of the word “gathering.” The rapid succession and repetition of words acted as meditation, inviting the audience to critically consider how digitisation has changed the way we remember, tell stories, share, collect and perceive who we are.

Roxanne’s performance was followed by a talk by Syrian archaeologist, Yasser Showhan. With Haddad’s (somewhat hesitant) translation, Showhan went into the origins of cuneiform writing, referring to Mesopotamian clay tablets. Very early on in the history of humankind, about 4000 years B.C. to be precise, people saw a benefit in recording things in writing: whether it was for trading purposes, documenting agricultural stocks, calculating, tracking astrological events, recording song lyrics, or communicating.

The evening became increasingly participatory. With music by Bashar Al-Darwish, the audience was introduced to the world of AI-generated sounds, which Al-Darwish himself described as the “sound of the future.” Before Roxanne moved on to explore the connections between AI and colonialism in another performance, guests were encouraged to express their own creativity on clay tablets. The evening gradually drew to a close with accompanying music and an open bar.

This Is Just The Beginning

This evening was the first in the “Artémon” series of events. The name was not chosen randomly: It’s a mixture of the English words “art” and “monster” because the event series is intended to offer a space for artists who are still a bit reluctant to present their own artworks—and the monsters behind them—in front of an audience. In addition, these explorative evenings are also meant to give guests the opportunity to discover the lesser-known sides of Atelier Gardens, such as Keller 7, Halle 12, or Studio 2.

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Thought provoking Start of “Talks at Atelier Gardens” with Satish Kumar

It’s Thursday evening, almost 7 p.m. You can only hear a few whispers and muted talking in TON1. A few moments ago, nearly 90 guests were engaged in lively conversations, filling the Atelier Gardens campus with an excited buzz in anticipation of the evening’s event. But now, as the last coconut water & rosemary mocktails have been long emptied, the room’s attention turns to an older man in a kurta entering the stage.

The topic of this evening’s talk – the first one in the “Talks at Atelier Gardens” series that will take place on campus over the next few months – is “Soil, Soul and Society.” Satish Kumar, the 86-year-old activist assuming his seat on stage, prepares to share his ideas on the topic at hand. “To effect true change, we must live in harmony with the earth, ourselves and others,” explains Kumar. He dreams of a world where nature is our sole nationality, where diversity does not lead to division, and where “I” is replaced with “we.”

A Life of Spirituality

Kumar’s life is symbolic of his vision. As a teenager, he became a Jain monk and, in his words, “renounced the world.” But when he turned 18, he realized that isolation was a very dissociated version of spirituality. He decided to leave the monastery and join an ashram where everything was done in community with the purpose of helping others instead of merely oneself.

At age 26, Kumar found out about Bertrand Russell’s arrest: the 90-year-old philosopher and mathematician was detained during a protest against nuclear weapons. “I was talking to a friend and asked him: What are we doing here, two young men, while a 90-year-old is actively demonstrating?” says Kumar. And so the two of them decided to travel on foot to the four main nuclear capitals: Moscow, Paris, London and Washington. Solely equipped with their feet and stamina, without money or a specific plan because “peace begins with trust.”

Activism as Solution

To this day, Kumar remains a committed activist. “I can’t control where my actions lead, but I can control my actions,” he says. “One has to accept that results come as a gift from the universe, even if that thought can be frustrating. The power of responsibility lies with each and every one of us. Even if you place a plant on your window sill, you perform an action toward the improvement of this world by making your city just a little bit greener.”

Words that resonate at Atelier Gardens. Here everything revolves around soil, soul, and society. There’s substance behind Atelier Gardens campus’ motto “Celebrating Soil, Soul and Society.” Benjamin Rodrigues Kafka, our vision & community director who moderated the Atelier Gardens Talk with Satish Kumar, shared how the 7 trees that existed on site in 2016 have now become 120. For this and other efforts in the regeneration process of the campus, Atelier Gardens received the 2023 MIPIM Award for Best Urban Renewal Project. Read more about it here.

Listen to the full Talk here:

Fotografiska Days at Atelier Gardens: Fashion as an Art Form

Sunglasses worn defiantly despite persistent rain – there was no shortage of style during the Fotografiska Days on Oberlandstrasse. From March 23rd to 25th, the Atelier Gardens hosted the Cultural Fabric exhibition of the renowned Swedish photography museum Fotografiska: an event that drew quite a crowd to the industrial zone south of Tempelhofer Feld.
Once through the gate, past the Atelier Gardens office buildings and straight ahead to the large hall labeled TON 1. The excitement in the air is palpable as visitors chatter and peer curiously into the hall behind the entrance control.

A colorful program

Over the course of three days, a series of events delved into the themes of art and fashion and their unquestionable correlation. Alongside an exhibition showcasing the works of nine internationally acclaimed artists, the program also included panel discussions, film projections, a ballroom showcase by So Extra Berlin followed by a joyfull closing party.

Fotografiska Days – Cultural Fabric’s goal was to explore the connection between the worlds of fashion and art. During the Fotografiska Days, the focus was on the question of how social integrity and artistic independence can co-exist.


Art, fashion or political statement?

The transition between art, fashion and activism is often fluid and up to interpretation. At least that’s what artist Šejla Kamerić expressed: “My work is a direct reaction to my environmental concerns.” The Bosnian artist used clothing shipped from Western Europe to the East imprinted with the slogan “The Party is Over” as a social commentary and criticism on our era of fast fashion and careless consumption.
The exhibition also tackled questions relating to cultural belonging and identity. One such example was Mous Lamrabat’s photographs in which people can be seen wearing traditional Muslim-influenced clothing like djellabas. Often only discernible at a second glance, the logos of Western capitalism are splayed across garments: a Nike swoosh here, a McDonald’s “M” there, and even a nod to SpongeBob SquarePants. As artist Jojo Gronostay sees it, “similar to fabric, culture is something interwoven.”

Fashion as a form of art is often overlooked, trivialized or met with contempt. However, the topic was received with open eyes and ears by the Berlin public. In the packed Atelier Gardens canteen, in front of the artworks, during the Q&A sessions, or even during a cigarette break in front of TON 1, there was lively discussion everywhere. Questions and impressions were exchanged in a buzzing manner. An obvious success for the collaboration between Fotografiska and Atelier Gardens!

Find out more about Fotografiska Berlin.

Welcome to the Atelier Gardens Journal

Welcome to the Atelier Gardens Journal. Here we’d like to share news about exciting developments and regenerative innovations, present the outcomes of collaborative work on campus, as well as introduce actors and discuss ideas.

Atelier Gardens is, and always has been, a unique creative campus with over a hundred years of film history: In the past, visionaries realized their ideas through the medium of film, a long-established way to inspire and motivate others. While film and television are still produced on campus, today the focus has shifted and Atelier Gardens prides itself as a laboratory for the makers of positive global change.

In this journal, we will share the ongoing changes and innovations happening on site, discuss ideas around collaboration, community and circularity, and report on the past, present and future of Atelier Gardens. Expect stories involving news, events, people, animals, plants and projects on our campus. Join us as we explore the shifts at Atelier Gardens and learn about new approaches to making positive change a reality within the urban context.

Stay tuned for numerous inspiring stories: Coverage of events, profiles and interviews with interesting change-makers, tips, information and inspiration for regenerative activities, and insights into our history and transformation.


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