FaVU VUT Brno, VMP Atelier

Text by Jennifer de Felice for the V2_East meeting (1996).

The Faculty of Fine Arts at the Technical University of Brno is preparing to present B.A. degrees to its first stream of successful candidates. The Faculty was established four years ago in Brno - the Czech Republic's second largest city and the capital city of Moravia - in order to provide an alternative to the only other two accredited higher education institutions for the study of fine arts, The Academy of Fine Arts and UMPRUM, both of which are located in Prague.

With the Velvet Revolution, opportunities arose, choices appeared and consequently changes occured. These included an influx of the "Western" liberal and democratic ideals, the availability of previously unavailable information and the updating of various information systems (a good example being the upgrading of the telephone network). A recognition and application of alternative and innovative approaches to education also came about, along with a major overhaul in staffing at certain institutions.

The Faculty of Fine Arts was established within the framework of the Technical University of Brno after an unsuccessful attempt was made to create such a faculty at The Academy of Dramatic and Musical Arts (JaMU). It has since become autonomous and is currently operating as an independent faculty. Since its inception student enrollment has grown from approximately thirty to over one hundred students across its seven studios, Painting, Sculpture, Graphics and Drawing, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Conceptual Tendencies and the Video-Multimedia-Performance Studio, all of which are located just outside the city center. Currently, all FaVU's students are undergraduates working towards a four year Bachelors Degree, with the option of prolonging their studies by two years to complete a Masters Degree.

The Video-Multimedia-Performance Studio has particularly benefitted from being a part of the Technical University. Its course of studies is designed to develop the students' ability to integrate various mediums of expression into a complex work of art. The VMP Studio aims to foster a relationship between action and environment, utilizing new media i.e. video, computers and other related communication technologies. The educational program it offers has been expanded to include scientific research and artistic experimentation. By encouraging a relationship between art and technology it has facilitated the successful realization of some interesting collaborations which would otherwise not have come about. The focus of the studio has shifted during the course of the last four years from single channel video to multimedia, interactive mediums and computer interfacing.

In 1994, the receipt of a grant enabled us to take the initial steps towards creating a long-term program integrating modern technology and a Multimedia laboratory built in cooperation with Woody Vasulka, pioneer of video and electronic art. Developments include the aquisition of real-time multimedia interactive equipment and links to an academic network and the World Wide Web. Thanks to the support and financial assistance of Silicon Graphics, the VMP studio has been able to upgrade its equipment and increase its number of projects including interactive works and installations. In addition, opportunities to collaborate with other institutions have also been created and an academic metropolis net involving several universities is being developed.

Works created by both students and members of the faculty have been exhibited at various exhibitions throughout the Czech Republic (The Czech Electronic Image, Orbis Fictus) and abroad including Germany (European Media Art Festival), Holland (V2, Institute for the Unstable Media) and the United States.

This year the Video-Multimedia- Performance Studio, in cooperation with Silicon Graphics, will present its third annual High-Tech exhibition at Dym Umlnm in Brno. As well as installations and internet projects it will include a Steina Vasulka retrospective. In the past, Silicon Graphics has made it possible for individuals and institutions to present their work at High-Tech, work that would otherwise remain unknown to not only FaVU students, but the Czech general public. Such works include installations and performances by Peter Weibel (Institute for New Media; Frankfurt) Jeffrey Shaw ( ZKM; Karlsruhe), The Vasulka's (USA, Santa Fe), Stelarc (Australia) and a symposium series which has included presentations by Martin Spanjaard, Keiko Sei, Chris Hill and others.

Currently the VMP Studio is concentrating on creating a website using Alias to render the icons and images. Tomas Ruller, Director of the VMP Studio, in collaboration with Lubor Benda of the Virtual Reality Association, Ludik Skohovski, Stanislav Filip along with other students and faculty members hope to realize the website by the end of the 1996 academic year in preparation for joint internet projects. Be on the look out for us.


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