Media Art in Eastern Europe

A program about media art from Eastern Europe, part of DEAF96.

Media Art in Eastern Europe

Media Art in Eastern Europe

Sep 1996
11:00 to 15:00
location: Lantaren 1, Gouvernestraat 133

This program consisted of a series of lectures about the history of media art in different European countries, incl. Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia. These lectures dealt, for example, with experimental film and video art since the 60s, with the situation of independent media artists in the 80s and 90s, new laboratories for interactive and media art and with the latest activities in the field of Internet and digital media. An overview of the presentations: - Marina Grzinic (Ljubljana): The Media Art Situation in Slovenia and the Territory of ex-Yugoslavia or For a Theory of a Possible Specific Critical and Social Discourse Towards the New Media in Eastern Europe - Martin Sperka (Bratislava): Some Notes on the Pioneers of Computer (Aided) Art - Seventies in Slovakia - Tapio Mäkelä (Helsinki): Technology / Avant-garde - Irina Aktuganova (St. Petersburg): Media Art in St. Petersburg - Melentie Pandilovski (Skopje): Electronic Visual Arts in Macedonia - Ando Keskküla (Tallinn): Media Art in Estonia - Ryszard W. Kluszczynski (Lodz/Warsaw): An Introduction to Media Art in Poland - Rasa Smite, Raitis Smits, Jaanis Garancs (Riga): The Situation of Media Art in Latvia Discussion: "The Electronic Alternative", with Janos Sugar (Budapest), Alexei Shulgin (Moscow), and the participants.


Abstracts of presentations

The media art situation in Slovenia and the territory of ex-Yugoslavia. For a theory of a possible specific critical and social discourse towards the new media in Eastern Europe

Marina Grzinic

In a paper that I will present at the DEAF 96 conference I will outline a specific history of the new media technology and esthetics in the territory of ex-Yugoslavia, reflecting on this specific territory according to 3 different periods in art, culture and history: 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Explaining artistical, historical, internal and external differences and similiarities between the three periods, focusing the analysis on the late 1980s (the time of the dissolving of the socialist and communist block in Europe), I will try to establish a parallel between East-East and East- West influences and tradition, highlighting the hypothesis that Eastern Europe with its totalitarian legacy is characterized by a critical-political approach to the media that is specific or better to say different from the Western tradition.

Russian Parallel Cinema is a unique tradition. It appeared in the Soviet Union in the beginning of the 80s and existed as if there were no strong system of official film. It appeared when world experimental film had 50 years history, but never gave a glance at it.


Cine Fantom
Russian Parallel Cinema

Olia Lialina

In the end of the 80s, Parallel Cinema came into fashion, as a part of underground culture. The next decade started with strong desire to bury it, as a part of perestroika fashion. Today the third generation of Parallel Cinema is active.

Very often trying to diversify my speeches about Parallel Cinema, I use "synonyms": Experimental, Independent, Alternative, Marginal, Low budget - one could think I make no difference. But the fact is that Parallel Cinema can be identified as the only Russian representative of all these categories. And it is never enough. You can't speak in general. You can't mark out a common school, aesthetic, something that describes everything. You can't be lazy. It's one quite narrow circle, but every time you want to explain what is Parallel Cinema, you couldn't miss any one.

The Parallel Cinema Archives grows in a non-academic way. Somebody asks you "Why I'm not mentioned?" and you include his works.

Social identification of the Parallel Cinema group of film and video(!!!) makers started in underground and close to CINE FANTOM (historically incorrect name) magazine, the first and only Russian independent selfprinted magazine devoted to cinema. It was founded in Moscow in 1986 by Igor Aleinikov and existed until 1991.

In 1987 the first CINE FANTOM festival was held in Moscow. Since 1995 the CINE FANTOM club exists. If you type you'll find the CINE FANTOM site. If you type in net search "Russian film", you'll find the CINE FANTOM site again.

Today, when 16mm film isn't produced in Russia any more, and there are no places for postproduction, artists use outdated remains and finish the work on video. So, many video films appear, made in mixed technique, speaking a mixed language.

Today, when it's impossible to make border between main stream and out of main stream, nobody prevents parallel film makers from thinking they do the first.

Natasha Drucbek-Meyer PARALLEL PHANTOME / Balagan, 1-95, Potsdam
Olga Lialina PARALLEL CINEMA A PROPER NAME / New Media Logia, 1994, Moscow
Olga Lialina DAS PARALLELE KINO / Via Regia, October, 1995, Erfurt


Pre-history of Computer Art
Martin Sperka

see: Pre-history of Computer Art


New tendencies in Latvian media art in the context of social changes
Rasa Smite

The interactive multimedia industry is in its development stage in Latvia, therefore the social and environmental changes are influenced especially by the emerging new media, high technologies, new concepts and possibilities of communication systems.

Very recently in Latvia new media became more and more accessible for the public. There are several newly founded Internet servers now. The most accessible for artists and media structures is the Internet provider "Parks", which is interested in promoting the development of new media in Latvia. At the moment together with the Multimedia center - Riga they are working on the Electronic Café project.

Since 1996 in Riga have been established many media art institutions such like the Electronic Arts and Media Center "e-L@b" - the first new media art institution in Riga; the Creative group "Sounds OPEN Systems" - organizer of two annual music and environmental installation projects "Open" and "Biosport"; the Performing Arts Information Center (by Soros Foundation - Latvia) and the restored Multimedia center - Riga (by Latvian Culture Academy) - organizer of the annual French - Baltic Videoart Festivals (1988-1994).

Especially during the last year Latvian media art activities increasingly have been influenced by new media, high-tech and trade-, rave-, techno- cultures as well.

High technologies are not really accessible for Latvian artists yet, however many artists are interested in thinking and working this way. Also the young generation's curators and artists are looking for new concepts and possibilities of organizing exhibitions, art and culture events.

By using media as art space there are many new possibilities of more free, non-traditional, multiformal and creative artistic expression. The development of new media culture will be (and already is) transforming the understanding of using communication systems and high technologies and the cultural and social background as well.

Putting Artists On-Line
Alexei Shulgin

Eastern European Art scene, as is known is characterised by historical separation and geographical remoteness (especially in case of Russia) from established centres of contemporary art / culture. Artists here live and work in conditions, completely different from those in the West. Lack of cultural institutions and state/private support, poor communications with the international art world on one hand bring a lot of challenge and sincerity (almost completely lost in western part of the world) into artist's motivations. But on the other, many interesting ideas, projects and exhibitions remain underestimated, don't become an integral part of the international culture process.

One of the most essential aims of Moscow WWWArt Centre therefore is to follow local art scene and to put the most interesting projects / art works (especially those that easily fit the internet format) on-line, giving to artists, originally confined by their life and work circumstances, a possibility of much broader international audience.

During the last months Moscow WWWArt Centre has produced internet presentations of various projects / art works of Moscow artists. Some of them, like "All for Sale" by Aliona Martinova (http://sunsite.cs.msu.su/wwwart/aliona) or "Contemporary Art Workshop" (http://sunsite.cs.msu.su/wwwart/caw) have attracted a lot of response from the international net audience.

During my presentation at the V2 East Meeting I would like to show some of these projects and talk about my experience of this kind of work with artists and problems that arise from it.

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