Media Art History in Russia
Russian Video Art Anthology out of MediaArtLab collection. 1980-2002.

About Anthology

Programme 1
Cinema and video art the border. The Utopia of slow video.
Reality captured on cinefilm is fractured, while reality captured on video lingers. Unlike the motion-picture camera, the camera-recorder records image and sound simultaneously. If the cinefilm achieves the distancing effect, the major achievement of video is an ability to create a copy of reality. Cinema being a human minds discontinuity incarnate, invented after the Death of God, it is video that returns to human kind the holistic world view. A human being with a discontinuous consciousness, brought up within the cinema culture, looks into a syncretic thinking camera-recorder. What will come of it?
(Milena Musina).
Programme 2
Aesthetic and technological experiments in video art.
The definitions of artistic experiment or experimental creativity can be run across fairly often in contemporary art and especially video art project description. It is not only a manifestation of a critics or art historians vagueness concerning both aims, problems and artistic quality of a given work, perceived as a creative process not as a finished product in the traditional sense. It is also an evidence of a very important methodological transformation that has irrevocably changed the 20-th century aesthetic paradigm. All the above applies to video art, which has become a field of experimental study and trial for various ideas, methods, technologies, not necessarily coming initially from the contemporary art arsenal.
(Tatiana Gorucheva).
Programme 3
Videoart and TV
The artist is the medium of the media space. This is one of the main character traits of the nature of art from its beginnings to our days, independent of its surroundings, allowing us to interpret the role of a video artist as a spiritualist, ventriloquist, messiah and ingenious crook. Indeed, wherever our medium is to be found, no matter what the country or technological level of its civilisation, he never loses the chance to become the centre of attention. The television broadcasts of the 20-th century gave him new opportunities. The whole historical diversity of artistic manipulation of the viewer and own image became accessible through mass-media technologies on TV screen. On the other hand, the television, due to broadcaster virtualisation technologies and the possibility to turn informational channels into super reality of the viewers existence, is rapidly itself becoming a mutant medium, changing its mask every minute.
(Alexei Isaev).
Programme 4
Video art and mass visual culture.
With the beginning of postmodern era the fine arts have ceased to be the sphere that defined the visual image of a culture. Mass production of various quality and multipurpose images, often aggressively introduced into the everyday surroundings of a human being made scholars change their view point on the problem of art production and articulate the new phenomenon as a field of culture studies defined as visual culture.
The process of communication language formation for the contemporary visual culture is mostly determined by technologies used in creation, reproduction and distribution of images. The first to notice their major role in changing artistic image s function and status was Walter Benjamin in his article The work of art in the era of mechanical reproduction (1935) which later became a keynote for contemporary culture and art research. The gist of this transformation is: from creating a distanced reality image, to reproducing reality as such by the new techniques, a reproduction utterly convincing and thrilling the viewer by its intensity - for instance, on screen. The other important feature of this transformation is the easiness of reproduction, replication and mass distribution of visual products, which has made it accessible for all, so that the image as such has lost its value and became an object of economical and political manipulation.
(Tatiana Gorucheva).
Programme 5
Performance and video in contemporary Russian art.
This part explores the border territory of Russian art, created by the mutual attraction of two genres, performance and video In the English-language critical tradition a conceptualising system for video and performance interaction of has already been established, while in the Russian tradition it is now in the process of being formed. The central concept here is video performance. It is widely used in description of art actions documentary, performances made specially for the camera, art works integrating action into installation in close circuit and TV experiments.
The concept is narrowed in such terms as performance-oriented tape and tape of actions, more appropriate for documentation, and on the other hand, the terms performance-based video or performance-and-video piece - describing works of a more symbiotic kind. There is also a term for various border genre experiments - theatrical video performance.
(Konstantin Bokhorov).
Programme 6
Visual Music.
For a long time the art of light, colour and movement was growing in the deep recesses of traditional arts - music, painting, musical theatre scenography and ballet, realised by various means and techniques and called by different names. In cinematography it was known as absolute film or abstract animation, while in video art it is usually called video synthesis or image processing.
Many artists have invented their own unique instruments for moving visual images synthesis and projection, each of these instruments given a special name: Clavilux, Lumia, Mobilcolor, Colour Music, Optophone piano, LightMusic, etc.
Nowadays this tradition continues in creation of special computer software.
Andrei Smirnow.
Programme 7
Video art and youth (club) culture.
With a competent PR campaign - i.e. mentioned in the mass media, a contemporary culture event becomes a model for reproduction. Thus functions the youth popular culture by reproducing fashionable images, new technologies and communication forms.
During the first half of the 1990s in Russia, we first notice the club culture phenomena, including chaotic reproduction of video and audio images, the clichés of contemporary art in a averaged, i.e. popular context.
In this the young generation of new technology art disciples has modernised the aesthetic demands of the consumer, finishing the experiment of capitalist-type culture product creation in the club and TV spaces.
(Olga Shishko).

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