25/5: media-art in eastern and central europe
Nina Czegledy, media artist, curator, writer
transition, transformation, transmutation: a brief note on the heritage of media art in the Middle of Europe
"Contrary to the popular perception to consider the whole region as a single entity, the art presented here is a testament to the varying rate and degree of media art development in Central Europe".
I wrote this sentence back in 1995 on the occasion of curating the InSight Media Art from the Middle of Europe touring project. To a large extent, the observation remains true, despite the fact that over the last decade, practically every aspect of daily life including art practice has profoundly changed in the region,
While reflecting on the theme of the day, I revisited some events together with my own projects on the emerging Central European media art scene since the early nineties. On review, it is quite clear that some of the most important cultural changes, including the development of media art, have been brought about mainly through the dedication of remarkable individuals, rather than government policy. Consequently it might not be a co-incident that Erika Pasztor and Richard Kluszczynski, two of the InSight participants, who remained to this day key contributors to education and the development of media art in their own countries are contributors to our panel. This example is only a personal illustration, as of course each and every panelist contributed significantly to the process of development in the region and beyond. It is important to note two points. In keeping with the emphasis on individual contributions, various aspects of media art archeology will be illuminated at this event from a personal point of view. From the overview of pioneering works by Peter Beyls, and Darko Fritz, through his research on technology by Andrei Smirnov, right up to the most contemporary website community activities by Dusan Barok, the panel will offer us a bird's eye view of media art history east of Vienna. The second point is, that while the emphasis of the presentations are on the heritage, history and subsequent development of media art in Central/East Europe, today visiting the Mama in Zagreb, Next Lab in Budapest, Multiplace in Bratislava or the interdisciplinary academic departments anywhere in the region, one meets enthusiastic, well informed people who often work and are equally at home in Dakar, Los Angeles or London.
In conclusion the rapidly developing media art environment, will hopefully ensure that in due course the very differentiation of the "Central/East European " label will disappear from our vocabulary. This expectation is not brand new either. If I recall correctly, Ryszard noted it at a session of the Dutch Electronic Art Festival in 1996.