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  [RE:VISITED. Media as Utopian Spaces?]

Kunstverein Medienturm
Josefigasse 1, 8020 Graz

CONCEPT: Reinhard Braun
The history of “media art” in the narrow sense is foremost characterized by shifts, breaks, discontinuities, failures and unkept utopias. Particularly when media art primarily is not technologically defined, its manifold and alternating references to cultural and social developments unfold: representation politics and public, communication and localness, media dispositivs and questions of identity were and are some of its focal points, which altogether can be recognized as controversial issues and potentials of cultural conflicts. RE: VISITED (“Media as Utopian Spaces?”) critically revises the immanent social blueprints of artistic media practice: which models were formulated, cited, continued or broken? How does the current mediascape and topography of contemporary media art practice present itself in the light of the critical discourses of the 1960s and 1970s? What is its relation to strategies of aestheticising in the 1980s and repoliticising in the 1990s? Do the manifold reformulations, contradictions and resistances not always appear as the scenario of a failure?

In the late 1970s, against the background of a general, critical analyses of mass media, a series of initiatives and projects evolved, aiming at an “alternative use of media” or a “democratization of television”. Autonomous video communities and initiatives on the realization of local television programs emerge; projects are realized that involve the population by the use of portable cameras. These initiatives are also important for the context of artistic media practice in and with television, since they make plain the great fight for the “control over the one telly”, referring less to images or aesthetics, but to the coordination and supervision of cultural standards.
What is the relation of these media practices to the current condition of private television, reality television shows and Starmania serials? Can television still be understood as a medium that is able to establish a platform for the discourse and criticism of social utopia, when its main purpose is to deliver each broadcasting station its superstar? Today, do we still accept the demand for a medial alternative model as basis of critical reference to media conditions, or for an optional arrangement of elements, which determine the awaking to the own environment?

Introduced as medium which enables direct access to reality, video is the basis for numerous experimental artists’ projects, as well as one of the most important platforms for the criticism of social media conditions. The spectrum of definitions of this medium ranges from the central role of video as part of the political countermovement of the 1970s via the aestheticizing of the 1980s and the revival as art medium in the late 1990s. In parallel, it appears as the medial mutation “real video” as part of multimedia concepts of network use: from the snowboard world championship up to advertisement for tourism, live images move mainstream within a new economy of attention. Does this parallel history trace the fundamental change from the analogue to the digital moving image? Do we face the transition of the image to a new (network-technical/digital) system space, where questions of the specificity of a medium become obsolete and the fundamental issue is availability? Also in this context, the questions revolve around possible, different media practices of construction and distribution of image formations, around the shifts within the mediascape and its consequences for the respective redefinition of media. Do “new” image formats transform a medium past recognition or can production and presentation strategies still be put forward which let appear justifiable a media-specific questioning?

Mailbox programs were first developed around 1961, as part of time sharing systems. Around 1985, “FidoNet”, developed by Tom Jennings, experiences its first climax. The utopia of (independent) encoded social communities, anti-hierarchical online communities, of free access, or even to have at hand a new “revolutionary tool” with the Internet, has proved to be in vain. In the centre of the present utilization are informationretrieval, information filtering and security questions. The notion of cyber space is obsolete, pragmatic approaches have pushed through, entailing, however, anew, politicizing forms of processing and spreading of information. Simultaneously, however, a dynamic topography of transdisciplinary – and thus also artistic – contributions evolve as (alternative) culture technical models, concepts and operations of presentation, documentation, comprehension and knowledge organisation. Is the “history” of the Internet a further component in a series of failed media utopias, an exemplary demonstration for the difference between theory and practice, or are we only at the beginning to formulate this utopia and is it just now important to develop new work and life models, that are already existing rudimentary, and to extend these by a theory practice, in order to develop a social quality of “networking”, which goes beyond the prevailing work ethics of the industrialized age? What role does the artistic practice play as part of the meanwhile highly differenciated common medium? Also in this context the question arises, whether in the frame of these alternative models, artistic strategies still can be as central as at the beginning of the “web”?

Reinhard Braun

Gottfried Bechtold „Fernsehen“, 1972, 12 min.
Peter Weibel „TV-Aquarium (TV Tod I)“, 1972, 3 min.
Peter Weibel „TV-News (TV Tod II)“, 1972, 6 min.
Peter Weibel „teleaktion (iv, a tv-poem)“, 1972, 2 min.
Richard Kriesche „Blackout (Video demonstration Nr.10)“, 1974, 2 min.
Richard Kriesche „Malerei deckt zu – Kunst deckt auf“, 1977, 5 min.
Medienwerkstatt, Wochenschauprojekt: „Volks stöhnende Knochenschau“; „Schwul sein kann schon sein“, 11 min.; „Christa erzählt“, 12 min., 1980
Richard Kriesche „Die Nachrichten von gestern mit den Nachrichten von heute für die Nachrichten von morgen“ (Zagreb TV), 1981, 8 min.
Robert Adrian X „Surveillance“, 1981, 3 min.
Helmut Mark „Mediative Skulptur“, 1992, 12 min.

Axel Stockburger „Börsenkurse“, Lokal TV, 1996, 3 min.
Florian Zeyfang / Pietro Sanguineti „Costumers only – My home ist dein Haus“, A CLIPS 1997, 1 min.
Jesko Fezer / Axel John Wieder / Katja Reichard „Gentrification, was ist das? Ökonomische Verdrängung“, A-CLIPS, 1997, 1,30 min.
Dorothee Albrecht / Stephan Köperl „Die Fahrt durch die SüdwestLB“, Public Domain, 1997, 3 min.
UTV „Trailer“, 1997, 2 min.
Skot „iii“, 1998, 1 min.
Flora Watzal „Parabol“, 1999, 3 min.
epy „0 texvertices“, lanolin, 1999, 5 min.
plan-c „plan-c“, 2000, 4 min.
n:ja „rewind“, 2000, 5 min.
Pfaffenbichler / Schreiber „36“, vidok, 2001, 2 min.
Manfred Neuwirth „Private News (Breaking News)”, 2003, 6 min.
Dariusz Kowalski „LUUKKAANKANGAS“, EDITION Medienturm, 2004, 8 min.
Christian Egger / Manuel Gorkiewicz / Christian Mayer „making of: Büro für temporäre Informationsakkumulation“, 2004, 7 min.

Reinhard Braun, Hans Christian Dany, Karel Dudesek, Richard Kriesche, Gerda Lampalzer, Helmut Mark, Matthias Michalka, Ariane Müller, Marc Ries, Winfried Ritsch, Robert Scharf, Walter van der Cruijsen

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Reinhard Braun, Netzgenealogien. Von der sozialen Utopie zum Arbeitsmodell?, 2004. Walter van der Cruijsen, Winfried Ritsch, Helmut Mark, Thomax Kaulmann