Transmodern Festival 2011

Photos by Philip Laubner, Theresa Keil and Brooke Hall, story by Justin Allen.

Photo by Brooke Hall, Power Moves Forever Quest

The attempt to homogenize American society into easily categorized markets in which those who assimilate are rewarded has left us lacking authentic traditions that bind local cultures into strong communities. It’s these traditions that are the lasting foundations for a society, not the ones legislated by congress and condoned by corporate America due to their potential for catchy slogans and convenient merchandising. Somewhere there are men and women wearing uncomfortable suits, sitting around a conference table debating the marketability of a holiday commemorating Osama bin Laden’s death and whether or not a video game would be considered in poor taste and if so, would that hurt the sales of said video game.

Events like the Transmodern Festival., now in its eighth year, are filling the void in our culture left by the television era. This festival is a celebration of the ideals, creativity, and identities of real people who, not only have a stake in this community, but are coming together in the most spectacular ways to help strengthen it. It’s here, in the absence of commercialism, where the culture that defines a place is forged. That’s not to say that commerce is a bad thing when kept in check, but when your traditions become defined by sales figures, the true meaning inevitably comes into question.

Generally speaking, Transmodern is a festival of the arts but more specifically it’s a celebration of expression that leans towards the idiosyncratic, radical, innovative, and absurd. To try and find its essence in a sentence or even a paragraph seems to be an impossible undertaking due to the vast array of creativity that lives and breaths during the four day festival in midtown Baltimore. Instead I will let the photography of Philip Laubner, Theresa Keil, and Brooke Hall guide you through some of the highlights.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Power Moves Forever Quest is a wildly imaginative theatrical dance piece directed by Claire Cote and performed by the Effervescent Collective. The concept is based on old Nintendo games and captures the motif brilliantly. Through the use of projections, animation, props, and live and recorded music the stage is virtually morphed into a live action eight bit environment. Though I doubt that everyone in the audience shared the same nostalgia for old Nintendo games, I’m certain that everyone was blown away by what was accomplished. The costuming, choreography, set, music, and performers were all marvelous. The production was pure brain candy. If you missed the show during Transmodern you still have another chance this weekend. Just follow this link Power Moves Forever Quest.

Photo by Philip Laubner, story by Justin Allen.

Photo by Brooke Hall

Power Moves Forever Quest at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Power Moves Forever Quest at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Power Moves Forever Quest at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Power Moves Forever Quest at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Power Moves Forever Quest at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Power Moves Forever Quest at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Brooke Hall

Power Moves Forever Quest at Transmodern Festival.

Rooms Play

Photo by Philip Laubner

This year the Transmodern Festival played host to the highly anticipated return of Rooms Play by the Copycat Theatre. The Rooms Play is an immersive theatrical production that puts the audience in the role of the protagonist as they’re led through over 20 small environments that they interact with. Last year it got rave reviews and this year seems to be even better. I have to be honest and say that I have yet to see the play but Bret McCabe from the City Paper did and here’s what he had to say about it.. I will, however, be taking advantage of the opportunity to see it this weekend as it’s playing Friday through Sunday at The Whole Gallery.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.


Photo by Theresa Keil

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Theresa Keil

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Theresa Keil

Rooms Play at Transmodern Festival.

Camp Camp

Photo by Theresa Keil

This year’s Transmodern heralded the addition of Camp Camp, a campground of sorts, laden with fantastic interactive installations and the occasional performance by groups like the Power Animals pictured above. It’s also where the beer vendor was, which is important. Camp Camp was a great addition in that it allowed for a casual place for festival goers to hang out for lack of a better term, and it also allowed for larger scale installations that weren’t possible in years passed.

Photo by Theresa Keil

Camp Camp at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Theresa Keil

Camp Camp at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Brooke Hall

Camp Camp at Transmodern Festival.

Photo by Brooke Hall

Camp Camp at Transmodern Festival.

…and in other Transmodern news…

Photo by Philip Laubner

Mucca Pazza

Photo by Philip Laubner

Electric Junkyard Gamelan

Photo by Philip Laubner

Ian Nagoski

Justin Allen

Justin is a co-founder and managing editor of What Weekly. He also runs What Works Studio with Brooke Hall, the studio that publishes What Weekly.

Brooke Hall

Photographer. Brooke is the co-founder and publisher of What Weekly.

Philip Laubner

Philip is a writer and portrait photographer based in Baltimore.

Theresa Keil

Theresa is a freelance photographer based in Baltimore