Media Art History in Russia
“Russian Video Art Anthology” out of “MediaArtLab” collection. 1980-2002.
«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 mind’s 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?
«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 critic’s or art historian’s
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.
«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.
«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.
«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”.
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”,
Nowadays this tradition continues in creation of special computer software.
«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 1990’s 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.
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