THE INTER-SOCIETY FOR THE ELECTRONIC ARTS ISEA NEWSLETTER #95 ISSN 1488-3635 #95, Part 1, January - February 2004 _______________________________________________________________ * CONTENTS * * ISEA News * Editorial by Nina Czegledy, Board Chair * Introduction MEDIA ART IN RUSSIA: RESHAPING THE PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENT + related URLs by Tatiana Goryucheva * SPECIFICITY OF RUSSIAN MEDIA CULTURE AND ACTIVITIES OF MOSCOW MEDIAARTLAB by Alexey Isaev * RUSSIAN DIGITAL/MENTHAL DIVIDE by Oleg Kireev * EKATERINBURG: EXPLORATION OF PUBLIC SPACES by Nailia Allakhverdieva * NOVOSIBIRSK: LEADING MEDIA ARTISTS by Ludmla Ivashina * ST.PETERSBURG: Reference information about recent media art projects by Anna Kolossova Part 2 ************************************************** ISEA News by Angela Plohman, ISEA Coordinating Director ************************************************** Welcome to ISEA Newsletter #95. This is a special 2-part issue dedicated to media art in Russia, guest edited by Tatiana Goryucheva. Part 2 of INL #95 will include articles by Antonio Geusa (FROM UNDERGROUND TO FOREGROUND: THE RISE AND RISE OF VIDEO ART IN RUSSIA), Katja Efimova (MOSCOW ELECTRONIC CLUB SCENE: THE PAST, THE PRESENT, AND THEN...) and Tatiana Goryucheva ("DEBATES & CREDITS / MEDIA ART IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN" DUTCH-RUSSIAN PROJECT). ISEA would like to thank Tatiana for her work in bringing these articles together and also Katja Sokolova for translating a number of the pieces in this issue. We hope you enjoy it! We would like to remind all ISEA members that we are always looking for guest editors for the ISEA ewsletter. If you are interested in editing an upcoming issue of the ISEA Newsletter focused on your region, please contact ISEA HQ. All guest editors receive a complimentary one-year membership to ISEA. -- ISEA News LEONARDO & ISEA2002 We are pleased to announce that the June and August 2004 issues of Leonardo Journal will be devoted to the ISEA2002 symposium held in Nagoya, Japan. The topic of the event was "orai", a Japanese term denoting passage, "comings and goings." Participants were invited to speculate on transience in art and technology. We are pleased that Leonardo will be providing such coverage. The issues will be guest-edited by ISEA Board member Peter Anders. ISEA MEMBERSHIP 2004 Effective March 31, 2004, all ISEA memberships that have not been renewed for the year 2004 will be deactivated. For those of you who have not yet renewed your membership for 2004, we would like to remind you that there are several types of membership, including ISEA Associate Membershis for those unable to pay the full membership fee. And don't forget that ISEA also offers student and senior discounts. Please do not hesitate to contact ISEA HQ for more details. Thank you for your continued support! ISEA2004 New media meets art, science, research, and popular culture at the leading international symposium held for the 12th time: ISEA2004 in Stockholm - Tallinn - Helsinki. For the first time an event of this scale is being organised between three cities in three countries. ISEA2004 will take place from August 14-22, 2004. An extensive update on ISEA2004 will be sent to ISEA members shortly. http://www.isea2004.net ************************************************** Editorial by Nina Czegledy, ISEA Board Chair ************************************************** ISEA is proud to present this latest issue of our Newsletter, charting media culture in Russia, guest edited by Tatiana Goryucheva. The range of topics covered by the contributors clearly show the wideextent of current media activities in Russia, a country where -notwithstanding various political and economical restraints- alternate ideas and movements have been thriving for centuries. Russia is widely known for its remarkable arts scene as well as pioneering technical innovations. For many decades however, a considerable amount of independent/or alternative initiatives have been scarcely recognized beyond the borders of the country. I vividly recall my amazement at seeing for the first time the experimental films -often suffused with irony- from the Moscow based Cine Phantom group at the end of the eighties in Budapest, or the startling videos in the early nineties in Leningrad. To this day, our information of the media art landscape comes mostly through international exchanges such as the Dutch-Russian project described by Tatiana, expanding international festivals such as Machinista, or some sensational art event covered by the press. For these reasons, we are pleased and prod to publish for the first time in English some of the contributions to this issue. Special thanks are due to Tatiana for the exceptional accomplishment of obtaining and editing these texts for our readers. ************************************************** Introduction by Tatiana Goryucheva MEDIA ART IN RUSSIA: RESHAPING THE PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENT + related URLs ************************************************** The texts, which are brought together here, represent observations and reflections both upon the rather short history and current development of Russian media art scene, as well as information about recent projects and their background. Their authors are mostly "insiders", who develop projects and run organisations, and who are well aware about the contradictory reality which stands behind actual state of things. Nevertheless, they try to make their own ways through financial misery, technical starvation, conservatism of cultural- political environment, by buildng up strategies of survival through implementing various tactics of what is better to define as "extreme art management". As a result of this equilibrist techniques some remarkable achievements and positive developments happen. First of all, finally the centrifugal cultural dynamic, when all roads in art career led to Moscow (and sometimes St.Petersburg), was broken. New centres and interesting initiatives in the field of contemporary art recently emerged in distant Russian cities: Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Kaliningrad, Nizhniy Novgorod, Izhevsk, - to name the biggest ones. Of course, today active interest to media is very much in focus of their activities. Inter-regional network collaboration and exchange projects have started to play an increasingly important role in reshaping the local cultural landscape. An important and active position in this process belongs to the network of the National Centres of Contemporary Art with the head organisation in Moscow, founded and sponored by the Ministry of Culture of RF. A series of recent network events in the field of media art, including presentations and lectures, were organised in collaboration between the NCCA network, other regional art centres, and Moscow MediaArtLab which provided content and expertise. The latter one seems to be the only institution in Russia at the moment persistently and consistently concentrated on media art in its activities in terms of organisational and promotional work. The Moscow Centre for Media Art and Culture "MediaArtLab" grew up from a program of the Soros Centre for Contemporary Art. Unfortunately MediaArtLab has never functioned as a real laboratory that would provide media artists with the access to production facilities, which nevertheless always has been the aim to achieve. During six years of its activities, often "homeless", MediaArtLab has established itself as the information resource centre (project Mediatheque - the biggest in Russia collection of Russian ad international video art and related materials) and an organiser of international media art events (annual festival and conference Media Forum, symposia Pro&Contra, and in the past the net art festival Da-Da-Net). A serious breakthrough in revealing and making public the history of Russian media art became the release of the publication and video catalogue "Anthology of Russian Video Art" (MediaArtLab, Russian Institute for Cultural Research, Moscow, 2002). It is supposed to be the first volume of the series "Anthology of Russian Media Art". The Anthology includes selection of the best and most important video works of Russian artists with the descriptions and biographies, as well as essays of several authors about different trajectories in the development of local video art. The first edition was published only in Russian, the English version and video collection on DVD are coming soon. A laboratory-type organisation which is conducting experimental and research oriented activites mostly related to electronic music, is the Theremin Centre of electro-acoustic music and multimedia in Moscow. The centre, which was named after the famous inventor of the first electronic music instrument known as Theremin-Vox Russian physicist Lev Theremin, was created in 1992 and located at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1995 the centre got in its disposal equipment of the former Art Laboratory of New Media founded by the Soros Centre for Contemporary Art. Since that time young artists started to work there on visual experimentation with media as well. The weakest point in current development of Russian media art scene, besides a lack of local funding bodies and a discouraging political environment, is the lack of professional media art education. An attempt to come up with the alternative solution in the absence of any academic interest to the field, became the media art course for artists developed by St. Petersburg Institute for Contemporary Art "Pro Arte" founded in 1999. Po Arte is concentrated primarily on educational programs in the field of contemporary arts, being probably the most financially successful independent contemporary art organisation at the moment in Russia. The 1,5-year media art course was designed to teach young artists to use creatively new technologies by providing students with basic knowledge about media, both practical and theoretical, history of contemporary art, and methods of media art production. Since the problem of getting sufficient structural funding remains irresolvable for many organisers, most of them rely on project money and inter-institutional- individual collaboration in order to sustain their activities. As a result, some organisations and events tend to become nomadic, to transform in their form and concept, or just quickly disappear from the horizon. Some even "emmigrate" from Russia, like the festival of software art "Read_Me", which moved from Moscow to Helsinki and now on its way to Aarhus in Denmark, andmedia art festival "Machinista", which moved this year from Perm to Glasgow. The major sponsors of media art projects in Russia are mostly foreign organisations, first of all, Soros Foundation until recently, Ford Foundation, the Netherlands Embassy and other Dutch foundations, Goethe Institute, other national cultural centres and foreign foundations. The prevalence of foreign funds over local ones along with the technical advantage of Western media art often results in a disproportional over-presence of foreign media artists at exhibitions, and especially bigger shows and festivals. The tendency to "import" and active international cooperation becomes evident especially in St. Petersburg, Russian "window into Europe", whose cultural life, on top of that, is traditionally pro-European and pro-Western oriented. Today a new generation of artists, curators and art managers enters the Russian cultural scene. They are trying to come up with innovative ideas and explore new territoris in their projects. An opportunity to get new experience, information, knowledge, through active communication, access to online resources, travels, collaboration with foreign colleagues, participation in international events helps the new disillusioned generation to look for wider spectre of means and models of activities. No interest in power games and competitive struggle for limited resources "from the top". The attention is gradually shifting from macro-ambitions to micro-realities. Examples of integrative strategies regarding local contexts with their geopolitical specificities can be seen in Ekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Izhevsk and other cities. Related URLs: ORGANISATIONS: MediaArtLab, Moscow: www.mediaartlab.ru (RUS) Theremin Center of electro-acoustic music and multimedia art, Moscow: www.theremin.ru (RUS) The National Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow: http://www.ncca.ru/ (RUS) NCCA, St.Petersburg: http://www.ncca-spb.ru/engncca/index.html (EN) NCCA, Ekaterinburg:http://www.uralncca.ru/ (RUS) NCCA, Nizhniy Novgorod: http://www.art.nnov.ru/index.php?lang=en (EN) NCCA, Kaliningrad: http://www.ncca.koenig.ru (RUS/EN) *Art magazine pH: http://www.ncca.koenig.ru/ph (RUS) ** EN: http://ncca.polutona.ru/index.php3?lang=eng&mode=projects&id_proj=17&ld=ok "Pro Arte" Institute for Contemporary Art, St. Petersburg: www.proarte.ru History of activities of Art Media Center "TV Gallery" (does not function anymore as exhibition & presentation space): http://www.tvgallery.ru(RUS/EN) FESTIVALS: Media Forum, International festival and conference in the frame of Moscow International Film Festival: http://mediaforum.mediaartlab.ru/index_e.html (EN) Out Video, International Festival of Public Video Art, Ekaterinburg, Deadline for OV 2004 - April 5, 2004: http://uralncca.ru/outvideo (EN) Festival of Extra Short Film, Novosibirsk, Deadline for ESF 2004 - April 1, 2004 http://www.esf.nsk.ru/rus/index.shtml(RUS) Read_Me, Software Art Fesival, Moscow, Helsinki: ttp://www.macros-center.ru/read_me/, http://www.m-cult.org/read_me/ Machinista, Media Art Festival, Perm-Glasgow: http://:www.machinista.org INFORMATION RESOURCES on Russian contemporary & media art: http://uchcom.botik.ru/ARTS/contemporary/362vde.htm (RUS/EN/FR) - Russian media art collection http://www.gif.ru (RUS) - information portal contains diverse data about regional art scenes http://www.newsletter.net.ru (EN) - news letter about contemporary art events in Russia http://www.artinfo.ru (RUS/EN) - art news in general http://www.arteria.ru (RUS/EN/DE) - art news from St.Petersburg http://i-art.udmlink.ru (RUS) - contemporary art and culture in Izhevsk http://www.nsc.ru/ru/ris/gallery (EN) - Novosibirsk galleries and artists http://www.guelman.ru/xz (RUS) - Art Magazine / "Khudozhestvenniy Zhurnal" http://www.ncca.koenig.ru/ph (RUS/EN) - pH art magazine SOME MOSCOW GALLERIES & CLUBS, which present contemporary & media art: NCCA exhibition space: http://www.ncca.ru (RUS) Guelma Gallery http://www.guelman.ru (RUS) XL Gallery www.xlgallery.ru (EN) DOM: http://dom.com.ru/ (RUS/EN) "Club na Brestskoy": 2nd Brestskaya St., 6, t. 2000936 ** Tatiana Goryucheva is an independent historian and curator of media art. She worked as a coordinator of MediaArtLab and curator at Media Art Centre "TV Gallery", Moscow, and is co-author and co-editor of the Anthology of Russian Video Art (project of MediaArtLab). ************************************************** SPECIFICITY OF RUSSIAN MEDIA CULTURE AND ACTIVITIES OF MOSCOW MEDIAARTLAB Alexei Isaev - Director of MediaArtLab ************************************************** In Russia the notion of "media-art" can not be exactly defined due to the fact that there is no clear understanding of the notion of "media-culture". The reason for this is the lack of educational programmes in this sphere. The programme "Meta Media Art" for artists at the PRO ARTE Institute and the course "Media-culture" worked out by Olga Shihko and me for the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences are the two exceptions. Another reason is that Russiaƒ†s contemporary art of the 1960's-1990's deliberately took a distance from politics, society and mass-media. The oppositional tendencies in Russian art lead to the situation when the art scene is run by a narrow circle of people; they have institutional status but refuse to work with innovations such as media technologies. For a democratic society this is not a typical situation; it reflects the most regressive features of the social-political identity of the Soviet era. However, among the intellectuals in modern Russia there is a growing tendency of drawing a line between the notions of media culture and mass media, as can be seen from the interest of theorists, journalists, artists and critics for new forms of communication. The interest of regions in the cultural, political and social life of cultural centres, such as Moscow, St.Petersburg and Western- Eropean ones, is also growing. The classical western understanding of media technologies enabled the Russian contemporary art community to integrate into political, social and cultural processes of the international community. This can be considered as a good beginning, but unfortunately this process is not going smoothly: we can name only 3-4 regions (Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod and, to some extent, Kaliningrad) where innovative projects are being executed. That is why one of the main projects of MediaArtLab, an organisation possessing the largest media resource centre in Russia, is the educational project "NonStopMedia" aimed at the popularization of Russian video art in the Russian regions. Due to the current economic situation the most successful projects are connected with mobile, tactical media and involve communities built around non-profit organisations. These are art communities or interest groups searching for cooperative projects, such as Kondratuk Foundation n Novosibirsk, the "Dom" club and Getto.ru portal in Moscow. We should not forget that initially the programmes of media-art and the art of new technologies were initiated by western organisations, especially by the Soros foundation. Nowadays innovations are not going through their most favourable period, mainly because of the fact that financial support from the west is being reduced: the Soros foundation's programme "Culture" has recently been transformed into the new organisation "Institute of Cultural Policy" and removed grants of any kind from its budget; the Ford Foundation with its already very limited list of supported institutions also cut back on its investments. The entrance to the European Union is still closed for us. The state and the Ministry of Culture in particular are very passive with regard to the development of innovative projects, multimedia festivals and media labs; as far as contemporary art is concerned, all the funds go to just two organisations- Rosizo, Moscow and NCCA, Moscow. These organisations - using innovations but not investing in them - distribute their funds in a closed, hierarchical circle, very different from the western system. Before elections it always seems that all the state money goes into politics and political debates, so there is no place for art. It is very important to understand that the notion of media-culture in Russia is very different from that in Western Europe also due to the language difference. Almost no theoretical and practical texts on media-culture were ever published in Moscow (the exceptions are the publishing activities of MediaArtLab, some texts in "Khudozhestvenny zhurnal" ("Art magazine") and "Russky zhurnal" ("Russian magazine") http://www.russ.ru (Net-culture), and some private initiatives. The only edition of McLuhan's "Understanding of Media" was published in 2003. The media-space of Russia is still in the hands of government and business structures. In 2000 Internet-censorsip was seriously considered by the Russian authorities. Within the frame of the Pro&Contra symposium http://www.procontra.mediaartlab.ru a discussion with regard to this subject was held. It was organised by MediaArtLab; Inke Arns and Folker Grassmuk made the most remarkable speeches. However, no further dialogue between the authorities and the liberal media-community followed. Unfortunately, progress and regress in Russia can not be separated from each other (it was not a coincidence that we named one of our international symposiums Pro&Contra - progress & regress). MediaArtLab is still living through periods of virtual and real institutional status, which influences only the speed, but not the concept and the strategy of the organisationƒ†s development. Judging from our experience, we can declare that in Russia it is possible to develop media-culture as a democratic community culture, for example small mobile events, flexible organisations using doing projects in different laces. In Russia the notion of tactical media takes new forms connected with media-art being in
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