ISSN 1488-3635 #95, Part 1, January - February 2004


* ISEA News
* Editorial by Nina Czegledy, Board Chair
* ST.PETERSBURG:  Reference information about recent media art projects by Anna Kolossova

Part 2

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
PAST, THE PRESENT, AND THEN...) and Tatiana Goryucheva ("DEBATES & CREDITS /
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

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.

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!

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.

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
+ 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

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

Related URLs:

MediaArtLab, Moscow: (RUS)
Theremin Center of electro-acoustic music and multimedia art, Moscow: (RUS)
The National Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow: (RUS)
NCCA, St.Petersburg: (EN)
NCCA, Ekaterinburg: (RUS)
NCCA, Nizhniy Novgorod: (EN)
NCCA, Kaliningrad: (RUS/EN)
*Art magazine pH: (RUS)
** EN:
"Pro Arte" Institute for Contemporary Art, St. Petersburg:
History of activities of Art Media Center "TV Gallery" (does not function
anymore as exhibition & presentation space):

Media Forum, International festival and conference in the frame of Moscow
International Film Festival: (EN)
Out Video, International Festival of Public Video Art, Ekaterinburg,
Deadline for OV 2004 - April 5, 2004: (EN)
Festival of Extra Short Film, Novosibirsk,
Deadline for ESF 2004 - April 1, 2004
Read_Me, Software Art Fesival, Moscow, Helsinki:
Machinista, Media Art Festival, Perm-Glasgow:

INFORMATION RESOURCES on Russian contemporary & media art: (RUS/EN/FR) - Russian media art collection (RUS) - information portal contains diverse data about regional art scenes (EN) - news letter about contemporary art events in Russia (RUS/EN) - art news in general (RUS/EN/DE) - art news from St.Petersburg (RUS) - contemporary art and culture in Izhevsk (EN) - Novosibirsk galleries and artists (RUS) - Art Magazine / "Khudozhestvenniy Zhurnal" (RUS/EN) - pH art magazine

SOME MOSCOW GALLERIES & CLUBS, which present contemporary & media art:
NCCA exhibition space: (RUS)
Guelma Gallery (RUS)
XL Gallery (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).

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
RussiaĠs 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 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") (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 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 organisationĠs 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 opposition to the existing model and ideology of contemporary art (see
the conference "Tactical media" materials within the frame of Media Forum 2003

MediaArtLab has always chosen the flexible position of partnership, cooperating
with organisations whose activities reflect the democratic view on contemporary
culture (the Union of Cinematographers, the Film Museum, RGGU, departments of
National Centre for Contemporary in the regions). We also have constant
partners: Interniews, the German Culture Centre, the Dutch embassy.

Taking the current cultural situation in Russia into consideration, we made the
first "Mediatheque" in Russia, the project that allowed us to position,
popularize and promote projects in the sphere of media-culture as well as to
make an archive of media-art works. The western video-art collection was
completed due to our coopertion with our western colleaques, their investment
and support: they are Nederlands Instituut voor Mediakunst "Montevideo/Time
Based Arts" and the "Vasulkas" archive, Santa Fe. MediaArtLab has released the
"Anthology of Russian video art" (editors: Olga Shishko, Tatiana Goryucheva).
The printed version of the anthology was also published (edited by Alexei

About MediaArtLab

As an initiative, the "MediaArtLab" creative group was originally established in
1997 by Alexey Isaev, Olga Shisko and Tania Goryucheva as part of the Soros
Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA). It was founded with the intention to build a
bridge between activities in the fields of culture and new information and
communication technologies. The participants of MediaArtLab projects have
included artists, film directors, critics and theoreticians, journalists,
producers and curators working in the field of contemporary culture and art, as
well as Internet and electronic media experts, and the representaties of most
"media-active" professions. From the beginning the goals of MediaArtLab included
focusing the attention of scholars, creative communities, representatives of
state organizations, and the public at large toward the impact (as well as the
problems and potential solutions) of the development of new technologies upon
general cultural processes.

During its existence, MediaArtLab has devoted its activities to the creation of
a practical and theoretical basis for the development of media culture in
Russia. It has organized all-Russian and international interdisciplinary
projects, with members from humanities as well as technical communities,
together with contemporary culture managers from Russia, countries of the former
USSR, Eastern and Western Europe, America, Australia and Japan. Its most recent
activities have included the international interdisciplinary symposium
Pro&Contra during May 2000, and Media Forum as part of the XXII Moscow
International Cinema Festival during2001. MediaArtLab has also focused on
developing new education models, and forms of archiving and distributing
contemporary art and culture. An important part of developing these models has
been the creation of internet resources (in Russian and English) on the site. MediaArtLab has published theoretical and research materials
on the intersections between media culture and contemporary art, politics,
society, information sciences, education, and institutions. These collections
are published both in traditional print media and on CD-ROM and Internet, always
in bilingual Russian and English versions, comprising works by Russian and
foreign authors. In this way we have sought to disseminate "foreign" ideas among
a Russian public, and Russian ideas abroad - aspiring toward a mutual exchange
between Russian culture and the international community.

"Anthology of Russian Video Art" (MediaArtLab, Russian Institute for Cultural
Research, Moscow, 2002)

This title stands fortime-consuming and painstaking efforts of the organizers
in choosing films, authors, artists and film-directors to represent alternative
Russian culture and contemporary Russian video art in its whole stylistic range
and historical perspective. This project is a manifestation of contemporary
video art as a cultural phenomenon that already has its own history,
representing the interests of the cultural and professional community. The
Anthology tells the history of the Russian avant-garde's search for identity
during the last 30 years in the form of video experiment, the outlines of which
are left to be discussed. The videos in the Anthology represent stylistic
tendencies synthesizing various practices of contemporary art, ranging from
radical actionism to aesthetic experiment with technologies of cinematographic
or video production and music video. It allows us to fully comprehend the scale,
the social and cultural significance and the level of ambitions of Russian
contemporary videoartists. It is also important to mention that in presenting
Russian video art on such a scale we first of all present the Russian media
culture, since video is still its predominant medium. The final selection was
passed by 64 videos comprising the Anthology; many of them aroused hot
professional debates, but finally our choice is made. The Anthology presents the
most significant authors and works of Russian video art from various cities,
regions and schools.

Oleg Kireev - journalist, critic, art activist, co-founder and member of

There's a certain discrepancy in Russia between media in use and in art. It's
already reported, in quantity of cell phones Russia already has an advantage
over America (3.5 mln - 3.3 mln cell phone numbers). Still, the use of new media
and digital technologies in Russia is strikigly under-reflexed.

MediaArtLab organized Pro&Contra conference at 2000 with participation of Inke
Arns, Volker Grassmuck, Eric Kluitenberg and some other European media critics
and practitioners, and it had also publicly gathered together a circle of local
Moscow internet gurus. At 2001 there was a software art festival read_me 1.2
organized by a russian media-pioneer Alexey Shulgin, Olga Goryunova and Sergei
Teterin. It brought RTMark, and several other international media
artists to Moscow. Then there was also a little number of smaller media-events.
Plus less than a dozen of special publications and some translations - all
within the last couple of years (Rushkoff, MacLuhan, Castells & Himanen). And we
shouldn't also forget an important "CompuTerra" magazine which is but far from
the art critical reflexion - it's rather a magazine for scientific
intelligentsia focused on computers & related culture.

And so, at December the first truly representative digital art eventtook place.
Under curatorship of Evgenia Kikodze and Sony patronage an exhibition of
contemporary Russian digital art "A start for digital count" opened its doors in
the Moscow Central House of Artists

For the first glance, an unusual majority of participants are young: dates of
births in the catalogue - 1973-1980. But there're as well usual and traditional
participants: Gutov, Vinogradov-Dubossarsky, Prigov. The digital art became a
neutral territory where these both generations had the first chance to meet. But
simultaneously the digitality became an indicator of their differences.

Of course, technologies belong to the future - so there were reasons to expect
that the youngsters become responsible for them. But sorry, all they have done
artworks already which didn't anyhow deal with digitality. The December
exhibition was just another chance for them to show themselves. Unlike the
manifestation event - a kind of Jean-Francois Lyotard's "Les immateriux" (1985)
which proclaimed a humankind's transition into the era of the immaterial - the
House of Artist's case was not about any declarations. It was rather an event
showing our art reality from an axis of the digital. Therefore the matter is not
the artists' fixation on technologies but rather their ways of thinking which
demonstrate different approaches to technologies.

Some of the young generation representatives are light and easy. Digitized
photos, digital print playing with the painting mimetic effects, different more
or less keen parodies on programming languages, games and 3D graphics as well as
various virtual space jam effects and virtual bodies in motion projected into
the realistic representation - all this demonstrates a familiar "user" approach
of young artists to technologies. As the Berlin festival dedicated to cell
phones culture (2000) called it - "mobile minded".

The older artists' works show something opposite: a suspicious, ironical and
distanced look at te computer. The Russian conceptualism grandfather D.A.Prigov
depicted a "Computer in Russian family" which found it's place within the middle
class family interior (next to the flowers + with a family photo portrait on the
top). Vinogradov & Dubosarsky placed the computer into even a worst environment
- under the New Year tree in the snow.

It has to be noticed that most of misunderstandings and wrong expectations
concerning the digital specificity originate from only an inertion of the oldest
generation with their regard to technologies. Of course we all know that it's
easier to watch a movie than to learn a new technology. But as soon as the
technology is learned, there's a danger to get confined inside a technological
cell. The specificity of one single technology cannot be well understood until
you learn the other correlating technologies and specificities. That's the
explanation why many young artists already senselessly repeat and the others
will start senselessly repeating afer the December exhibition: "Media art!
Digitality!" - as if it could shed some light on the inner content of their art
production. This is how some exclusive craft producer looses sense of reality
when gets too much focused on his own exclusivity. Besides that, it hadn't been
noticed that any of the gathered artists focuses on the true message- 
transmitting specificity of the media but rather they work with the more or less
superficial effects of depiction and representation in digital realm.
Nevertheless, there were some much more interesting cases when the artists
deliver some other messages through their work without insisting on its
digitality and "mediality".

The "ABC: Art Business Consulting" group members exhibited the melt and burned
xeroxes, faxes, computer mouses, monitors, cell phones with an explanation that
these are the "office personnel nightmares".

As I believe, the most remarkable younger generation artist Alexei Kallima
presented a daily stillife consisting of roken glass and used matches but in
digital print. That such a realistic and nostalgic picture was followed by
Japanese style hokku: "A cane beats the water. A small fountain. Water drops.
Pause... With one second delay the dynamics started producing a noise of the
wind growing..." (Ishikava Tamoshi "Un-opened letters"). There's an unbearable
discrepancy expressed by this work with such a clarity and transparency - a
discrepancy between "real" and "virtual" which is still splitting our senses and
our perception into two parts so "unnaturally".


I would like to use an exhibition report as an occasion to generalize... not
directly on the media but rather on one question raised by the media. A contrast
to media art is the other kind of art which was the most interesting exploration
of the newest Moscow art scene - a non-spectacular art.

The title had been found in early 2002 by a group of young artists joined around
the non-profit "France" gallery (or rather an artists-run spac). The group was
called "Radek" and had its ideological origins in the politically engaged art of
late 90s. Even the name was inherited from the older left-wing radical magazine
and artistic group. But this time it was not about openly protesting and 
crossing streets with "artistic" barricades, as in 1998 for example. This time
the starting point was an implicit protest against the "spectacularity" of the
capitalist society: against its seamless agressive homogenous totality of 
imagery. Everything now can be turned into images, thus surfaced, devastated,
emptied of any content, - as true post-situationists realized the young artists.

According to the ideas of non-spectacular art, this un-transparent reality can
be relevantly expressed only by an absence of any representation. Art must
become hidden or invisible.

When coming into a central exhibition of non-spectacularists (April 2002,
Zverev-center) one could see an empty hall only. The art objects started to show
when only a crator pointed at them: here's a pack of "Marlboro" of an unusually
big size, here's someone's slippers hanging on the battery, here's a door which
regularly opens by itself, and didn't you notice the flowers on the ground
before the entrance? It's a work "Dead corpse's bringing".

A non-spectacular object can hide itself within the variety of environment or it
can slightly disappear from the very area of representation. They claimed, the
first non-spectacular object was created by Anatoly Osmolovsky when he glued a
bubblegum on the wall in a form of the RAF symbol.

Alexei Kallima at "Dawaj-Dawaj" Berlin exhibition (2002) did a just noticeable
crack on the wall and laid his instrument underneath. In his other work non-
spectacularity overlapped with the theme of Chechenian war as the most painful
and hardcore one (by the way Kallima was born in Grozny): Chechen partisans
painted with fluorescent colors on the wall, in a disco-like style, so that
they're made unnoticeable in the daylght and start to light up only in the

Maxim Karakulov collected and exhibited the crumpled metro tickets and called
that "Origami"...

According to non-spectacularity, an artist takes an ascetic and stoic escapist
position in response to the agressive visuality of the environment - he escapes
from the very zone of visibility.

Why does this art become important within the context of new media rise? Because
non-spectacular art directly  deals with the challenges of new media.

The expression is intrinsic to any media. New media work with images. To
transmit whatever through the media an object has to be transmittable, e.g. it
has to have a form and a message; it deals with something expressed, something
that is "brought into form".

Non-spectacular art rejects the very starting point for the media - it refuses
to work with the transmittable entities, with the images. It goes back to a
realm of non-realized, non-expressed, of only potential. Non-spectacular art
find itself where only pre-forms, pre-patterns shimmer in the darkness of the
Potential. It resists to spectacularity by a regression to the previous phase of

Thus it evades any competition with the world of advertising makers, talking
heads, PR professionals and any other spectacle actors and engineers. But is it
worth of trying - to avoid a competition? Shouldn't they better explore and
develop the way of representation which beats the spectacle on its own visual
field - like constructivists?

Of course I know about the liberatory ideologies of "invisibility" and "e-
scapism" of an artist. But who will stand for that reality then? The one which
we remember still present and not ravaged by the invasion of images?

Ok, ok, they also say "we're against the nostalgic back-to-reality position
which is reactionary and conservative..." - I know all that too... But we've
withessed all these changes within a rushing passage of years!

Being unsatisfied with their first revelatins about the spectacular nature of
the society the young artists started to go deeper into the problem - to expand
the frames of understanding the "Spectacle". Since some moment it started to be
already not about the images only but about the totality of mechanisms which the
Spectacle is constructed by. David Ter-Oganyan did a "curatorial" project when
inviting some famous artist just to click on the photo camera button and make a
picture of some couple at the exhibition; then the famous artists' "works"
(photos) were exhibited together under his "curatorship". Thus he revealed how
the mechanisms of spectacularity function to create curatorial celebrities.

The mostly unusual, keen and minimal deconstruction of the spectacle was done by
Alexei Kallima (again!) when he simply fenced a long corridor before the
entrance within the gallery. There was nothing else inside it but any guest
entering the space of the gallery had to pass the corridor and to be
enthusiastically met and welcome by the already present guests with applauds.
Thus the artist articulated the artificiality and temporariness of any border
between the "actor" and the "audience" which are two essential parts of the
Spectacle - a friendly and simultaneously provocative work, worth to be

At the time of non-spectacular wave it was a pleasure to see the artists
involved. They were all into the ideas and they were saying "We're going into
the really subtle art nuances". I suppose this subtlety was inherent to the cues
they studied; in fact they were exploring the nature of the manifest world. They
were deconstructing the way things are brought into form - from the state of


Truly, and again, this is the problem. The divide, the split, the painful
discrepancy, the gap is in our organs of perception. Is Russian reality still
vague and uncertain and should we transform it into visible? Or is this a
vagueness only from a spectacular point of view? The flatness of all thes
images is unbearable! How will look Russia when mediatized? Endless Siberian
spaces, Northern seas and villages with their inhabitants? This question
addresses to PR, TV, media, art and literature.

Now we understand there was a certain solution for the national visualization
found in the culture of Soviets, with its symbolical interconnectedness of all
classes and nations within the optimistic Will-and-Force continuum. But now its
lost unretrievably.

Historically, Russian culture had ever been more perceptive to words than to
images. Therefore the literature with its inherent logocentrism did ever play
more important role than the art with its visuality. And now again we can refer
to a contemporary novel writer Viktor Pelevin who wrote in his latest novel
"Numbers": an English heroine says to a main hero - a Russian nouveau riche

- We in the West have reached an agreement to consume the images of ourselves,
our Consumer identitites, which are being developed by the sciety through
special institutions.

If you Russians want to eventually join the great Western civilization you have
to go quite far... I am a pokemon Meouwth. Your friend Lebedkin who called you
by phone just now is a jeddai. There's prime-minister Tony Blair smiling at us
from the TV. There's no flaw, no divide in the world at that moment... But who
are you? Can I really trust you? Are you real Pikachu? Or is it just a mask, a
waxwork beyond which only the emptiness and the primordial Russian chaos are
hidden? Who are you in truth?..

Someone from Europe told me in response to the story of non-spectacularity that
"we had some similar problems and approaches in 80s". However, some questions
are raising which are also implied in the question of whether we're conscious or
not about the sense of new media.

Is it so much necessary to transmit your ego into the imagery in order to be
present and to be represented? So necessary to articulate your message according
to PR-rules to hav it heard? Or maybe this is only a one possible way between
the multiplicity of the others? And maybe it follows only the current form of

It might happen that Russia will find its "consumer identity".

It might be that we will be buried under the invasion of images and Russia will
stay unrepresented.

It might also be that we will have some better solutions found.

But I feel that there are questions to provoke thought and these questions are
more or less parallel to what other people in non-western world witness, and I
also assume that Western people can have some experince of dealing with the
questions of that kind.

January 2004

Nailia Allakhverdieva - Director of the Ekaterinburg branch of the National
Center for Contemporary Art

Every discussion about media-culture on a certain territoy inevitably leads to
speculations about resources and conditions. As in any big Russian city, the
situation in Ekaterinburg reflects the paradox of the country's cultural life in
general. Here is one example: the city has more TV companies than any other
place in Russia, but still no contemporary art centre, let alone better
technically equipped institutions, such as video- and media-centers. In short
words, this situation can be described as follows: there is no place for
contemporary art in Russia. The reason for that can be lack of cultural policy
and programs of cultural modernization, which leads to misunderstanding of how
not only "high" but also "low" contemporary art technologies should be
developed, promoted and subsidized. Western foundations help, to a certain
extent, to solve this problem; however, their support does not facilitate the
legitimization of contemporary art in the Russian society, but, on the contrary,
makes it look more and more as a mysterious, closed andstrange

The Ekaterinburg department of the National Centre for Contemporary Art has been
facing the above-mentioned problems throughout its history. The department was
created by the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation in 1999 as a typical
bureaucratic institution of Perestroika time - with minimal budget, no own space
and no other resources; it had 3 employees and a pathetic mission statement -
"to apply the state policy in the sphere of contemporary art".

As the appointed director of this organization, I had to fulfill a serious task:
to work out such a program of contemporary art development in the region that
even without exhibition spaces and sufficient funds would allow us to adjust the
organization's activities to the scale of the city so that the Centre can meet
the requirements of its high position.

We decided then to specialize in public art, and later became a centre for
project development and realization in this domain. One of our man goals was
not only to establish connections inside the local community but also to build
regional and international networks.  That is why all the projects we have
realized so far were to a large extent media-project, though which we tried not
to conceptualize them as such, in order to avoid a too instrumental approach to

Our first project, which marked the beginning of our activities in the city's
space in December 1999, was an international network project "Agitation for Art"
(2000-2003) ; 62 artists took part in
this project. It appeared to be the first attempt to adapt contemporary art to
the public space of Ekaterinburg. The participating artists created a collection
of leaflets containing propaganda or advertisements of contemporary art. The
project existed in more than one format, that is: as a leaflets action in public
space, exhibition in a gallery and on the Internet-site Considering its smal budget (all leaflets were
cheap two-colour prints), "Agitation for Art" was a large-scale  project,
involving various communication environments, such as public, net and gallery
space. The leaflet itself advertised all cultural events listed on the project's
program. The project came so close to the audience that every person could
actually print and distribute the leaflets himself. Mobility of the project as
well as its large scale enabled us to take it later to many Russian cities: from
2000 to 2002 it was executed in Moscow, Toliatti, Samara, Nizhnekamsk, Izhevsk
and St. Petersburg.

In the beginning of the year 2003 we got a telephone call from the Dutch
Embassy; they informed us about the coming of  contemporary Dutch art festival
to Ekaterinburg and suggested that we should select art projects for the
festival.  We decided to invite the Dutch part of a joined Russian-Dutch project
"Debates & Credits" within the frame of this project,
actions and woks by Dutch artists were shown on the streets, in clubs, cafes
and on TV. The project itself made obvious one strange but very typical thing:
in Russia, only official power structures can make realisation of large-scale
public and media projects possible; in that case, it was the city
administration. Due to their support only we were permitted to realize the
project "Debates & Credits" in the city. The Dutch embassy's protection created
a good reputation for all the artists, however strange they may seem to the
government officials.  As a result, mirror messages by Leo van Munster were
exhibited in the city's open space; his intercative sound installation
"Activator" was placed in metro; video art works of "PARK 4DTV" were shown on
one of the local top TV-channels and on a big city screen; the "Machine" group
absolutely legally made two mega-graffiti in the very centre of the city; and so
on. And our most important achievement was that the Centre, for the first time,
was given an oportunity to realize a monumental contemporary art project. A
mosaic work by Arno Coenen made of ceramic tiles (12 by 12 meters in size) was
displayed on one of facades of Ural State University. Later this work became one
of the city's main tourist attractions and was included in city-guides. The
project was such a success that, as a friend of mine said once, "there was a
feeling that any time you would pick up the telephone you could hear something
about Dutch contemporary art".

The project "Debates & Credits" was of great importance for our organisation;
its success made the project our "business card". In 2003 it was followed by an
invitation for cooperation from the city authorities; they offered us the city's
concrete fences as well as administrative and financial support. It was the
first time that a contemporary art project in public space was commissioned by
the city administration. The project "Long stories of Yekaterinburg" was
inspired by the length and modular tructure of the fences around the city's
construction sights. We invited artists from different places to create and,
with the help of volunteers, to cover the fences with visual stories, which were
supposed to re-interpret the city's history and mythology. In August 1-10, 2003
fifteen stories appeared on the fences in different parts of the city. The style
of the works varied aesthetically from visual propaganda and advertising to
comics and films. The concrete blocks were used by the artists not as
backgrounds for monumental works but as media spaces for their artistic
messages. The citizens liked the project very much. In spite of the fact that
some of the messages were risky and controversial, the project appeared to be
"the main present for the city's 270th anniversary" and probably will be 
continued next summer.

Thus, "media for the masses" has become our main curator's strategy. This
strategy resulted in our current project "Out Video", an international video-art
fetival in the public domain The idea of showing
video on the city's advertising video-screens already came to us some years ago,
and finally now it can come true: Ekaterinburg has the biggest amount of large
video-screens consisting of 10 video billboards. Displaying of video-works in a
number of places in the city enables us to commit a full-scale intervention of
contemporary art into the public space. We plan to show the artists' works in
blocks for one month, one video a day, as well as to organize two special night
screenings of the best works.

What is special about "Out Video" is that the artists will make their works
specially for the advertising screens. They need to take the context and the
technical characteristics of the screens into consideration (works not longer
than 30 seconds, no sound, resolution twice smaller than TV format, "hard
rotation"- up to 240 times a day). By all this, a new genre of video art is
initiated. Art videos willserve as a pause, during which a viewer can have an
"intellectual" rest from advertising. The festival becomes a sort of therapy for
commercial information channels. Besides, we will change the rules of the game.
Including video art in commercial spaces, we will also look at advertising as
art, which should make advertisers try to meet higher requirements, as far as
creative and aesthetic qualities of their work are concerned. Video art, in its
turn, appropriates the qualities of advertisement, facing the task of successful
presentation in front of an audience. The project is special due to the fact
that for the first time in Russia video-art is not only shown in public space
but also takes the form of commercials.

Now we go on doing what we have begun with: advertising and propaganda of
contemporary art. Of course, we are in a big danger of going too deep into
popularization and populism. Curatorial and artistic messages can be reduced and
become trivial and politically corect in a wrong way. However, now our goal is
to "fill the gap" of misunderstanding and distrust. That is why our projects are
first of all media projects. Contemporary artists we work with, based in our
region, are now choosing the same path, though you can hardly name any of them a
"media artist". "Zehr Gut" group, making video-installations, work with
transmission of distant images and with the voyeuristic aspect of visual
information. The main subjects of Arseny Sergeev's "Black Hand International"
series are the media nature of globalisation and the intervention of
corporations into a person's everyday life. The website of short video-works by
Viktor Davydov is parodying "the big TV". In photos
and videos by the group "Zasada Zetkin" ("Zetkin's Defence") the influence of
mass media on a woman's identity is researched. The group "Kuda begut sobaki"
("Where the Dogs Run") is searching for ontological values with the help of

Thus meda-related activities are the only way for us to survive in today's
cultural situation in a big provincial city such as Ekaterinburg. At the moment,
we see it rather as an instrument, a method rather than a concept of our 

Ludmila Ivashina - art manager of Kondratyk Foundation, Deputy Director of
Bureau of Actual Culture, independent curator

The media-art scene of Novosibirsk, one of the biggest industrial centers of
Siberia, is represented by several art groups working with audio-visual media.
The most important of them  is the "multifunctional" art group Blue Noses. Its
members are Dmitry Bulnygin, Maxim Zonov, Vyatcheslav Mizin, Konstatin 
Skotnikov; after the tragic death of Maxim Zonov in 2002 the Moscow artist
Alexander Shaburov joined the group. In the middle of the 90s Maxim Zonov, a
member of "The Cosmonauts" group at that tie (Maxim Zonov, Andrey Kurchenko,
Aleksey Leshenko), started to make video documentation of their absurd comic
performances with a trace of vulgar ironical freudism. At the same time
Novosibirsk artists Dmitry Bulnygin, Maxim Zonov, Vyatcheslav Mizin, Konstatin
Skotnikov began to make video-art. At first they made video installations and
video documentations of performances.  The active development of Novosibirsk
video art started when in 1998 Vyatcheslav Mizin produced a series of extra
short video performances at U7 studio in Ekaterinburg. They included "Alphabet
of States" and "Excretions/Secretions". In 2000 Dmitry Bulnygin initiated the
international annual video art festival "Extra Short Film Festival-Novosibirsk" .

The Blue Noses group, with different members, participated in several art
festival and projects, among which Valencia , Venice and Istanbul Bienniales and
the FIAC, ART COLOGN and  ART MOSCOW art fares. Their works include video art,
phoo and video installations and multimedia presentations with electronic music
groups. The multimedia activities of the group include a series of actions
violating corporative restriction of contemporary art's discourse (especially
with regard to the recent elitist-conservative tendencies in Russian
contemporary art).

Dmitry Bulnygin is now actively working as a VJ, often together with Novosibirsk
electronic music group "Nuclear Los". Vyacheslav Mizin often performs as the
leader/vocalist of Nuclear Los' punk-rap group "Drisnya", which he founded. The
musical performances are either solo projects or co operations with other
artists, for example: Alexander Shaburon (Moscow) and Kolya Kolsky

The musicians of "Nuclear Los" group (Alexander Lavelin, Arkady Khlobystov,
Anton Trubitza) are the heroes of Novosibirsk electronic music. They declare to
have invented a new trend which they define with the provocative term
"pornojazz". Of the joint multimedia projects performe together with the Blue
Noses group "Secret Life of Siberian Cosmizm" (2000), Funny Industrial (2001)
and Porno Jazz  (2002) are the most important. At the beginning of 2000
a new
bright electronic music group "8 bit" was created in Novosibirsk (Alexander
Butzinov, Nikolai Zhmakin, Irina Lapova). They use Japanese texts in their
projects (vocal:  Irina Lapova). In 2004 "8 bit" participated in the
Transmediale Festival in Berlin.

In 2003 the 1st International Festival of Digital Arts "Anigma" took place in
Novosibirsk (initiators of the festival were Andrey Martynov and Vladimir

In the years 2002 and 2003 "The Global Warming" electronic music festival with
participation of Russian groups was held in Novosibirsk (the headliners of the
festivals were Nokolai Bocharov and Rodion No).

Novosibirsk multimedia projects are mainly initiated by: the Yury Kondratyk
public foundation (director Yana Glembotzkaya), the non-profit organization
"Bureau of Actual Culture" (directo Konstantin Skotnikov), and the Agency of
Holidays "Hurrah!" (director Alexey Kazarinov). Multimedia events are often held
at the Yury Kondratyuk Foundation and the clubs "The Tube", "Black Widow" and

Novosibirsk, 2004-02-05

Ludmila Ivashina
+007 913 908 34 18
t/f +007 3832 222503

ST.PETERSBURG: Reference information about recent media art projects
Anna Kolossova - media artist, currently working at NCCA,
St. Petersburg

For the last 3 years the situation in media art in St.Petersburg has undergone
some positive changes. "Pro Arte" Institute that has been
working in the city for 4 years plays the main role in this process. In this
period of time, the new generation of media-artists and of also viewers, able to
understand and evaluate media-art works, has formed. New curators are interested
in working with young unknown rtists. The market for this kind of art is, of
course, very limited; the city's galleries are still not very enthusiast about
making video-art exhibitions, be it a video programme or a media-installation.
That is why those who deal with media-art have to work on non-commercial
territories, such as state museums and places not meant for art exhibitions.

International exhibition projects were the most important events of the last
year. Russian artists did joint projects with Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian
artists as well as artists from Germany and Austria. The most successful of
those events were the POXTO exhibition
in Manege exhibition hall described in the recent edition of news letter about
Russian contemporary art , which gathered together
most of St.Petersburg media artists.

The project "Electric Visions" <>
presented the best video-works of the last years from Russi, Finland, Sweden,
Denmark, Norway and Iceland. The video-works were shown on the big screen in the
Dom Kino (Cinema House), which had an interesting and unexpected effect. The
project was done by St.Petersburg department of National Centre for Contemporary
Art , distribution centre Av-Arkki  and the Ministry of Northern countries . The project still goes on, so any suggestions concerning
the showing of this project in Russia or abroad are welcome. NCCA under Marina
Koldobskaya as a director has become very active in the city's cultural life and
now plans several exhibitions and events. Now the "artist in residence" program  has started; the artists
from other countries can now come to work in St.Petersburg.

Besides, the department of contemporary art of The Russian Art museum in the
Marble palace holds exhibitions on a regular basis. The Hermtage has also done
a big project this year in collaboration with PROARTE and The Russian Art
museum- the Pro-SMOTR exhibition <>. They brought to
St.Petersburg the works of the most famous western artists, such as Bill Viola,
Shirin Neshat, Mark Vollinger etc. The Anna Akhmatova museum in Fountain house  also holds exhibitions of young
artists including media-artists on a regular basis.

************************************************** Part 2

ISEA Newsletter Contributors:  Tatiana Goryucheva (Guest Editor), Alexey Isaev,
Oleg Kireev, Nailia Allakhverdieva, Ludmila Ivashina, Anna Kolossova, Nina Czegledy.

Russian - English translation by Katja Sokolova.

ISEA Board Members:
Peter Anders, Chris Csikszentmihalyi, Nina Czegledy, Gunalan Nadarajan, Anne
Nigten, Julianne Pierce, Wim van der Plas, Cynthia Beth Rubin, Mark Tribe.

Angela Plohman, Coordinating Director

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