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Tobias Bernstrup and Palle Torsson interview – jonCates (2007)

In Uncategorized on 10 listopada 2010 at 8:18 pm


„Make your own exhibitions. Examine it, rip it apart and learn from it and do copy it. Don´t forget that stealing is everything.” from the Museum Meltdown README by Palle Torsson and Tobias Bernstrup (1996)

Tobias Bernstrup and Palle Torsson collaboratively created a series of Art Games in the form of Art Mods called Museum Meltdown from 1996 to 1999. these Art Mods are among the first of their kind, New Media Art interventions into the site of their own exhibition which utilize the possibilities presented by the First Person Shooter as a genre of games. i interviewed Bernstrup and Torsson in 2007 to discuss these Media Art Histories for an essay of mine called Running and Gunning in the Gallery: Art Mods, Art Institutions and the Artists that Destroy Them, which will appear in From Diversion to Subversion: Games, Play, and Twentieth-Century Art, edited by David Getsy. our discussion is both technical and conceptual, involving questions of Institutional Critique, site specificity and personal reflections of the often self-relfexive process of making museums meltdown…


Q: how did you arrive @ the idea of developing the first instance of MUSEUM MELTDOWN in 1996 @ Arken Museum of Modern Art?
were there any previous works (artworks, levels, mods, etc) that particularly inspired or influenced you then in making the first MUSEUM MELTDOWN?

A: „At that time I was collaborating a lot with artist Palle Torsson. We met in art college and shared an interested for video computers performance and Internet. We did an early web based project ‚Join Hands’ in 1995. We both played a lot of computer games and was fascinated by the revolutionary game Doom and the possibilities of modifying the actual game. The initial idea of MM came while planning a new piece for a show at Arken MoMA, we went to see the museum space and were struck by similarities between the museum and a 3D shooter game. The museum interior had a lot of game like texture details such as fake metal panels and big sliding metal doors. So we came up with the idea of designing a game map based on the plan drawings and textures of the space. The in game artworks were to be reduced to low res pixelated images, working as recognizable symbols. The game engine we used was Duke Nukem 3D. Museum Meltdown 1 was followed by two more museum project until 1999 when Palle we did the a version of the Modern Museum in Stockholm based on the Half-Life graphical engine.” – /tobias

A: „I remember playing Marathon for Mac and Wolfenstein 3d… But We were very very stocked by Doom. The impact of space and sound, hallways, the shotgun and monsters. I think at the same time we were concerned (frustrated and interested) about the game that the contemporary art world is. We were invited to take part in a show at Arken Museum of Contemporary art… We
paired together the concrete setting of the postmodern architecture resemblance to FPS games… we felt like the fake metal panel and distorted perspective for the museum could be mapped to the in-world textures of games…. this sign based architecture made us feel the simulation at hand and we took that to make the first Museum Meltdown. More over that representation of space in this respective world has a shadowed relation to the game of this spaces.
When it comes to other artworks I can not to tell …” – //Palle

Q: i am very interested in this point, the artworld as gameworld. what kind of gameworld did or do you think of the artworld as being? what were/are the particular rules of play for the art world game? how did you intend for MUSEUM MELTDOWN to address those issues?

A: „The First,  players point of view: the make fake game, something you have to respect as a learning devise. I mean to crack the codes and use them as you would in any social sphere. And Secondly the system: the codes of hierarchical self-manufacturing Artworld where power upwards works as an isolating layer to the access of production of meaning, most like mass
media. Not for very much of gain I think and allot of frustration. A frustration that you could get rid some of by blowing up masterpieces in Museum Meltdown I guess. This System which aura I do not find very attractive for the moment.
This was not addressed directly as narrative in Museum Meltdown but was more produced in the context of the setting by letting the consepts blead into one another. Like one day I saw a kid pointing his finger formed as a gun at  on of the real guards of themuseum going: – bang. Or like when the head of security showing fear of Museum Meltdown being used as a way to
learn to master a robbery of the museum.
More over that representation of space in this respective world has a shadowed relation to the game of this spaces.” – //Palle

Q: this seems to be a very important key to MUSEUM MELTDOWN, that when you play you literally stand at an intersection between the simulated space and the institutions’ architectural space that exhibiting the work and so you have a sense self-reflective or recursive presence within the game (and within the game within the game). do you agree?

A: „yes !” – //Palle

Q: also, isnt it also accurate that this doublecoded placement, being simultaneously within the physical and virtual museums, contributed to the project’s end? i am also interviewing tobias + he said that you both got to a place where you weren’t interested in simply modelling every museum that invited you to exhibit the project. so perhaps for the player being at this intersection or in this doublecoded context is @ the heart of the work, but couldnt you also say that for you as artists, as a collaborative, you lost interest in being in that place?

A: „Yes I did but I was sort of directed out of that intersection by making a videowork . The videowork was a re-cut of an old Swedish classical children’s movie called Pippi Longstocking and was censored for its content about the manifest discourse and crack of the sexualized gaze on children. A conversation that in my work was force to silence by copyright  and copyright holders of the re-cut movies I made, Swedish Film Industry. I came to find the art world not being strong enough to help that expression. I am not at all sorry for this turns but rather in the end this helped me broaden my view on the production of art and life.
Now I am deeply involved in the Swedish pro piracy movement that I find to be very productive in it discourse and again reconnecting to the the artworld via this organisation.” – //Palle

Q: in your more recent personal work, that physical/virtual intersection of spaces is still very important, correct? did working at thaty intersection w/MUSEUM MELTDOWN lose interest to you personally? collaboratively? does this have sum thing to do w/the artworld as a gameworld?

A: „As I see it the artworld, alone, as mem, is not strong enough to help fight the posthuman  battles of the 21-century where the intersection between life, death, simulation, entertainment, code, law are getting more and more undisconnectable. Above all this is more important then mine and Tobias collaboration – as answer. Our collaborative effort are seeing light again as in the workshop we are putting together for the Royal University Collage of Fine Art in Stockholm called Analog vs. Digital.” – //Palle

Q: tobias, for the first version of MM made for Arken MoMA where players able to destroy the art objects +/or architectural features? if so, how did you choose which elements to make destructible? were all artworks destructible or only certain pieces?

A: „In MM #1 the player could only fight/destroy monsters, artworks were more as a dead props or as a set. Some part of the architecture interior could be destroyed. such as glass, and a mezzanine floor that would explode entered the museum. Toilets could also be smashed to cause a little fountain.
In MM#2 at the Cont. Art Centre of Vilnius we made the artworks destructable, destroying an art work would spawn a flying suicide bot that would attack and explode in the player face if not shot down.
In MM#3 at The Moderna Museet Stockholm, we used a new game, that allowed more realism. we more or less represented about 75% of the originals works hung according to the collection. The debris was more realistic, for example when breaking Duchamp’s Large Glass with a crowbar you would see both scattered glass and wood! :) And shooting off a Donald Judd would make metal pieces fly through the room…. everything could be destroyd, just a matter of taste…. if you disliked certain works or not. David Elliott the director of the museum at that time turned out to be a very good player and would stop by the installation from time to time. He never broke any of the works…. but would focus on killing monsters.
In 1998 during the development of MM#3 we launched a beta version the Moderna Museet on national TV’s web space. This was a online multiplayer game using the Quake game engine. However for the final version we decided to use a different game that was Half-Life.” – /tobias


Q: so for MM #1 the toolset was: Duke Nukem 3D + BUILD + MM #2: also Duke Nukem 3D + BUILD + MM #3: Half-Life + Worldcraft. so you never used Quake + Radiant during the MM project? is that correct?

A: „Exactly just build and Worldcraft plus the extra texture programs, EditArt for duke3d, and something for half-life can’t remeber think it was Wad something…
In MM#2 at the Cont. Art Centre of Vilnius we made the artworks destructable, destroying an art work would spawn a flying suicide bot that would attack and explode in the player face if not shot down.” – /tobias

Q: how did the work change for you @ this point? in the „Museum Meltdown FAQ (1999)” you + Palle Torsson stated that the concept of „the Museum versus The Game” was more important than skinning the characters to represent specific curators or otherwise altering the game play. also, as i understand from your 2003 interview with Francis Hunger, it is important to you to retain the rules of game play (even when you negate the expected patterns) that are constants or givens within whichever engine may be used. in the case of the MM project these factors make the context or placement of the work (in the museums that are modeled) critical to the work. with MM #1 the main hinge that the work seems to turn on is that the player is inside the space of the museum + inside the space of the game which is played inside the museum. also, in MM #1, the standard form of game play is the main form of experiencing the work. but it seems that w/MM #2 + #3, w/the added ability to destroy the artworks, the context of the museum becomes a prerequisite for the possibility of destroying the art [works/objects] held inside the gallery. many who have written on + been inspired in their art practices by MM focus on the ability to destroy the art [works/objects]. do you feel that this is an important key to understanding the MM project? was it an important part of the process, to add the ability to destroy the artworks?

A: „Yes as mentioned the first mods dealt a lot more with ideas of space and representation. the look of things.
In the later MM when we wanted to develop this and made artworks breakable. we wanted to turn the game more against the idea museum, institution and the artworks. This gave more distraction towards the environment, you would not experience the space while busy with shooting and destroying. The player was suddenly very occupied with playing and forgot what was happening outside of the game. Like a unaware performer. The breakable artworks were an important aspect of this. It also brought the player in the position of making more personal decisions.
After the MM projects Palle and I continued working separately with game based work, I returned to the idea of less action and more environment.” – /tobias

Q: when you made the various instances of MM did you think of them as new versions of the same project? as upgrades? numbered pieces in a series? has your thinking about that changed now, over time?

A: „Each museum/game was a new different piece. it’s important to remember that they were site specific. Every museum had it’s long or short history. i.e. in MM2 the building was an old Soviet style architecture museum in Lithuania.
However we came to a point where we would get a lot of requests and could start to imagine ourselves just continuing to build museum after museum in the world. We did not see any challenge in this so we both moved on to new projects.” – /tobias

Q: you mentioned that you both moved on to new projects, did you stay in contact?

A: „there was a geographical move. After college in 1998 I left Stockholm for 6 months going to New York with my partner (video artist Annika Larsson).
Museum Meltdown III was developed when me and Palle where on different continents. I recall sending game map files back and forth over a slow modem connection…. :) we once met up in a Quake version of Moderna Museet during a lecture. Then later we moved to Berlin in 2000 after MM 3, and then later to New again York in 2002.” – /tobias

Q: do you remain in contact?

A: „Yes, we’re still best friends and have a strong bond. We actually discussing a workshop idea right now.” – /tobias

Q: did this moving on also mark a more general move away from collaborative strategies in your work?

A: „In one sense, my performance and animation based work took a very personal and individual direction. But on the other hand I have been collaborating with Annika for several years now when composing sound and music together for her videos.” – /tobias

for more info and versions of the Art Games in the Museum Meltdown series goto:


Tobias Bernstrup and Palle Torsson interview – jonCates (2007)

CTheory Interview Archaeologies of Media Art

In Uncategorized on 10 listopada 2010 at 8:12 pm

Jussi Parikka in conversation with Garnet Hertz

Media archaeology is an approach to media studies that has emerged over the last two decades. It borrows from Michel Foucault, Walter Benjamin, and Friedrich Kittler, but also diverges from all of these theorists to form a unique set of tools and practices. Media archaeology is not a school of thought or a specific technique, but is as an emerging attitude and cluster of tactics in contemporary media theory that is characterized by a desire to uncover and circulate repressed or neglected media approaches and technologies. Its handful of proponents — including Siegfried Zielinski, Wolfgang Ernst, Thomas Elsaesser, and Erkki Huhtamo — are primarily interested in mobilizing histories and devices that have been sidelined during the construction of totalizing histories of popular forms of communication, including the histories of film, television, and new media. The lost traces of media technologies are deemed important topics to be excavated and studied; „dead” media technologies and idiosyncratic developments reveal important themes, structures, and links in the history of communication that would normally be occluded by more obvious narratives. This includes tracing irregular developments and unconventional genealogies of present-day communication technologies, believing that the most interesting developments often happen in the neglected margins of histories or artifacts.

In 2007, Jussi Parikka published Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses (Peter Lang Publishing, New York). In Digital Contagions, Parikka provides an insightful articulation of media archaeology as a research methodology, which he implements to construct a clear cultural history of computer viruses. Parikka inverts the assumption that computer viruses — which are semi-autonomous and self-replicating pieces of computer code — are contrary to contemporary digital culture, instead arguing that computer viruses define the social and material landscape of computer mediated communication. [1] Although computer viruses are often considered as a disease and breakdown within the ecology of media, Parikka argues that these marginal computer programs provide key clues to the material and incorporeal conditions of the network age. They are not accidents of media culture, but increasingly the natural mode of digital media. In other words, the ontology of network culture is viral-like. [2]

In this conversation with Garnet Hertz — who graduated with a PhD in Visual Studies on the topic of media archaeology and media arts from University of California, Irvine — Parikka discusses media archaeology as a methodology of academic research in media studies and the media arts. In the process of constructing a theoretical foundation for media archaeology, they discuss and explore the topics of interdisciplinarity, historiography, art, new media, and academia.



Garnet Hertz: I see Digital Contagions as bringing clarity to the ambiguous concept of media archaeology, and would like to continue to clarify the term here. To begin, how do you define media archaeology, and how do you envision it as a project, movement or an approach?

Jussi Parikka: Media archaeology… ambiguous? Indeed. I was just reminded by an archaeologist at Cambridge that there is a sub-discipline in archaeology called „media archaeology.” Such contexts do not always spring to mind when we consider media archaeology from a more theoretical perspective. For us in media studies and media arts it is quite often the footnotes of Foucault, Kittler, and the dead media of Bruce Sterling that provides the context for the media archaeological way of doing analysis. Media archaeology exists somewhere between materialist media theories and the insistence on the value of the obsolete and forgotten through new cultural histories that have emerged since the 1980s. I see media archaeology as a theoretically refined analysis of the historical layers of media in their singularity — a conceptual and practical exercise in carving out the aesthetic, cultural, and political singularities of media. And it’s much more than paying theoretical attention to the intensive relations between new and old media mediated through concrete and conceptual archives; increasingly, media archaeology is a method for doing media design and art.

After the initial period of tackling the concept of media archaeology in the early 1990s, it is now crucial to take the idea forward and make it more theoretically rigorous. I am not saying it was not rigorous, but there was never a thorough discussion among the „practitioners” of media archaeology. [3]

GH: Do you think media archaeology needs to be explored in reference to traditional critical theory?

Let’s take a specific thinker to frame media archaeology — Foucault, for example. Clearly, Foucault does not name media per se, and only offers hints of leverage into media through institutions, inscription, and materiality. Media technologies have difficulty fitting into Foucault except via the formulation of the subject via discourse — through the themes of governmentality, institutions of control, sexuality, power, or structures of domination.

Although I can see significant differences between media archaeology and Foucault’s interest in the construction of knowledge, technologies of power, or the formation of the subject, media archaeology has clear points in common with Foucault’s methodology: they both agree that the search for true origins in continually spiraling-backward proto-histories is a wasted effort. They also agree that the construction of linear histories runs the risk of leaving important statements, objects, and networks of power in neglected margins. Media archaeology is linked to Foucault’s archaeology through an analysis and interest in subaltern discourses, local knowledges, and a questioning of progressivism. Similarly, media archaeology emphasizes the material basis of communication technologies.

Do you see this kind of theoretical exercise as a useful approach for media archaeology?

JP: You are quite correct, as was Kittler when he started the wave of media theoretical criticism against Foucault. One cannot adopt a clear model of media archaeology from Foucault or anyone else. We need to rephrase the question concerning influences and models in terms of theoretical affordances; what does, for example, Foucault afford for a media archaeological method? What are his shortcomings for the consideration of technical media culture, of algorithms and oscilloscopes, of hard drives, tubes, valves and semiconductors instead of books and letters? What interests me in pulling Foucault back into this discourse of media archaeology are his concepts that lean towards thinking of the materiality of media, especially dispositif and practice. They are still a bit too underdiscussed in some media theoretical contexts. What I want to use from Foucault is a certain neomaterialist mode of cultural analysis that comes up with approaches that touch on the singularity of the material assemblages, of which technology is one component. In other words, specificity and singularity should be some of the key „aims” of a media archaeological excavation. This should not only be a metaphorical goal, however, as German media archaeologists such as Ernst point out. Taking into account both the singularity of the object and the problems with traditional history as a „narrative mode of describing reality” is a worthwhile mode of excavation. The question is: how should the writing of media archaeology take into account the technical environment in which it is written not only by human hands anymore, but by machines themselves? [4]

GH: I agree that specificity and singularity are simple and clear objectives for media archaeology that can be pulled from Foucault. However, the current situation requires, as Ernst and others have indicated, that media technologies themselves be included as part of the material and social assemblage.

With this in mind, what do you see as the main value of the project of media archaeology within a context of media theory?

JP: In the case of media archaeology, effects and influences are hard to evaluate as the whole network in which it is formed is so widespread. Various streams of thought have gathered around the notion of media archaeology and have reinvigorated notions of history and temporality in media cultural contexts. For a long time, the influences of film studies, new film history, and apparatus theory were evident. New film history was already thinking past the linear mode of writing the history of cinema and pointing towards its intertextual contexts. This fits nicely with the technological changes and discourse regarding multimedia and digital culture since the 1980s. Writers such as Tom Gunning, Thomas Elsaesser and the „Amsterdam School of Media Archaeology” have articulated the new and shifting contexts in which cinema itself becomes a multimedia of sorts. [5]

Beyond cinema per se, the way media archaeology enforced a rethinking of temporalities is useful. Within related scholarly frameworks, various writers suggested a twisting of time. This is understood either in the sense of remediation instead of linear media history (how old media return, in a way, through new media adopting and subsuming them as Bolter and Grusin suggested), [6] as the recurring „topoi” of media history (Huhtamo) [7] or in the „time machine” way of looping the „new in the old” to current media discourses, as Zielinski has explored in his work.[8]

Both Zielinski and Huhtamo have been interested in how design „solutions” take ideas from media history and refashion them. Everyday consumer media (e.g. mobile entertainment), curating practices, representational techniques, and spatial modes of organizing media can borrow heavily from history. I like the idea of a time-machine, or a rewiring of some of the connections of the past and the present, in order to come up with something new. History becomes an archive of sorts, a form of database, that fits the logic of digital culture and Web 2.0 modes of production that are reliant on archives and databases. It forces us to think about the ontology of archives as places where history unfolds, but also twists and turns, becomes a complex set of effects and repercussions.

The archives that allow media archaeological creations are, however, not restricted to what exists. Various discursive positions and imaginary media are displacing notions of media from the traditional broadcast- or apparatus-centered views. Again, with institutions this is an agenda that has spread outside the academia to the work of artists such as Zoe Beloff ( and writers such as Eric Kluitenberg, who has promoted imaginary media through the Debalie venue in Amsterdam ( Indeed, one could see this interest in imaginary media as a continuation of some of Foucault’s ideas relating to the primacy of the discursive instead of just the apparatus, but also as a new cultural historical credo of writing neglected histories. Facetiously, perhaps media archaeology is the „queer theory” of media history: queering media, making the object of media studies unfamiliar and hence expanding its field to include queer practices, discourses, objects. Through media archaeology, the contexts, objects, and processes of media studies have increased explosively and to that I would like to add how they have questioned notions of the temporality of media culture; instead of a linear, progressive time of media, does it follow cycles or other modes of repetition? Or should we think of the time of technology as based on variations and percolations instead of arrows or cycles, as for example Michel Serres suggests? [9]

In other words, could media archaeology become posthuman or non-human through adopting and investigating temporal processes that are either too quick or too slow for the human senses? This means looking at the microtemporalities of technical media in terms of how, in a condensed fashion, they mediate human culture, as well as observing the longer durations that escape the grasp of human senses. [10]

GH: But what differentiates these values from critically engaged history? In other words, should a thoughtful „new historicist” writing of history look for something new in the past and dig through marginalized narratives in provoking ways? In this sense, is media archaeology a rebranding of new historicism and Kittlerian media materialism?

JP: Since the 1980s, media archaeology has had connections with new histories, new historicism and cultural history. From this context media archaeology carved a disciplinary niche for itself in media studies and the field of new media of the 1990s. It offered a historical perspective to the claimed memory-loss of digital and Internet culture. So, in this sense, the insistence of the relevance of the old and obsolete is the necessary double of the celebration of the new we have been living.

Several people who have knowledge of the disciplines of history and cultural history recognized immediately this tie with the discourses of the 1980s and 1990s; but as a traveling cultural science of sorts (to borrow the idea from Mieke Bal), media archaeology was a conceptual transgression of some of the institutional borders.[11]

Artists such as Lynn Hershman, Paul DeMarinis, Ken Feingold, and Zoe Beloff used the idea of making history present as multilayered phenomena. Again, one could say that this work echoes what Fernand Braudel tried to do with his own historical method of writing a polyphonic, orchestral history of various overlapping temporal layers. Contemporary art pieces can also act as conceptual rewirings, they can expand the way we see media, or even what media is. We need to question the basic concepts through theory and practice, and media archaeological methods in art have not disappeared. On the contrary, they are just emerging, as with the various pieces at the Transmediale 2010 exhibition on Future Obscura — for example Gebhard Sengmüller’s A Parallel Image, a concrete construction of an imaginary visual transmission device (, and Julius von Bismarck’s The Space Beyond Me, with its meditation concerning the machinology of memory (

GH: In reviewing literature on media archaeology, a few key themes appear: media archaeology (1) as a „history of losers”, of what linear history of media „forget,” (2) as a multilayered resonance with new film history and the multiple connections and modalities of media, and (3) as recurring themes (Huhtamo, Bolter and Grusin). These approaches are used to read against the grain of the normal histories of media, as Lovink suggested earlier. [12]

Would you extend this further to see media archaeology as an exploration of potentialities of media, or perhaps as a displacement of the concept of media?

JP: All three are apt approaches, but as you indicate, these are textual methods that reflect some of the themes that media archaeology has inherited from new historicism and new cultural histories. If we think of media archaeology as an exploration of potentialities, we have tools to develop it both as an artistic and conceptual methodology. In addition to the potentialities — an idea I like very much — I have been referring to this task of media archaeology as one of dis- and re-placement of the notion of media and its contexts, not neglecting the connections to political economy and capitalism. By looking at new connections, various studies have been good at destabilizing the way we think about media and how this frames ways to fabricate concrete media machines.

I have framed my forthcoming Insect Media research as a displacement of the notion of media in itself from the usual ways of looking at histories of media only in terms of technology, broadcast media or the other usual suspects. By looking at the conceptual and pragmatic links between insects and technology, we are able to displace and rethink media as not only broadcasted or networked. Media can be envisioned as modes of perception, modes of being in the world and embodiment. In a way, the „motto” of my book is: Pick up an entomology book, something such as John Lubbock’s nineteenth century classic On the Senses, Instincts, and Intelligence of Animals with Special Reference to Insects (1888) suits the purpose. However, do not read the book as a description of the biology of those tiny insects, or solely as an excavation into the microcosmic worlds of entomology. Instead, approach it as media theory and it reveals a whole new world of sensations, perceptions, movements, stratagems, and patterns of organization that work much beyond the confines of the human world.

The recent enthusiasm regarding swarms and distributed networks express not only a metaphorics of a natural ecology of media, but a wider history of tapping into the intensities and potentialities of animal bodies and extracting from there a non-human way of understanding and designing media. In other words, using a theme that was already emerging in the Nineteenth Century, the body of the animal and the insect becomes a media of sorts, with different potentials of exploration, sensation, and perception than the human centered, two-eyed, two-footed, two-armed mode of perception on which so much of our media theory has been based, from Ernst Kapp to Marshall McLuhan. I am looking for the conceptual potentialities of such a displacement, but artists such as yourself are creating embodied material layerings on the fuzzy interzone of living and technology, media and organic — and displacing such divisions.

GH: Bringing this back into artistic practice, does media archaeology find resonance with the media arts since both fields have a history of praising the brilliant-but-uncompleted project? Do both fields glorify the prototypical?

JP: Regarding artistic methodology, pointing towards the brilliant-but-uncompleted or unrealized project is a nice way of framing it — as long as we analyze the framework we use to judge things as incomplete or unrealized. I love the work done in the context of imaginary media and bringing back obsolete media into our discursive and practical framings, but the notion of obsolescence begs the critical question: obsolete only in relation to the established? Obsolete only as a reaction to the mainstream? If we define obsolescence as something that has fallen out of fashion or has become unwanted, unusable, or outside the mainstream then this definition relies on the constitutive mainstream itself. What we have to realize first is that obsolescence seems to be a key logic of capitalist production anyway — a logic which entails that of continuous production of the new through the production of obsolescence as well. Obsolescence does not just happen; it is produced as part of the consumer cultural logic. The enormous piles of waste and ecological crisis are an index of that kind of logic of obsolescence.

Because of this, there is a danger of it serving reactionary and hegemonic definitions, where it is only through that negation from the mainstream that the forgotten becomes defined. That is why I find value in imaginary media projects that displace our normal ways of approaching what is media and explore media as intensities, sensations, the unthought of. In short: media beyond the representational. We should not only offer representations of imaginary media, but also focus on such affects and percepts (to put it in Deleuze-Guattari vocabulary) that engage sensations in us in ways that are not familiar, like a becoming-insect or becoming-other of our sensorium. I am not only interested in obsolete media but also in such non-representational, „off the radar” media projects in which obsolescence can itself carry potentialities not yet perceived.

GH: To oppose your stance, does media archaeology as a displacement of the notion of media run the danger of making media archaeology even more marginal? Does displacement glorify the trivial, unfinished, and irrelevant without providing a synthesis?

Part of the reason I ask this is that I see some of the same problems within the history of media arts practice: reveling in obscure technologies, projects continually stuck in prototype mode, and work that lacks a connection to „real world” issues and politics.

JP: I would see this perhaps as the lack of theoretical discourse that should have critically engaged and forced some of the positions to explain the wider contexts in excavating media history, whether for a specific art project or from a theoretical viewpoint. This is the „why” question of any media archaeological (re)wiring. Why is this excavation relevant now? The danger is often marginalia for its own sake, a curiosity cabinet way of doing media history that indeed is interesting, but does not necessarily reach out towards issues in politics, or even explicate how to bring in fresh theoretical perspectives.

You make a valid point concerning the glorification of the unfinished. I have to mention Nietzsche if we critique the dangers of history and archaeology: one of the dangers of media history — or any kind of a history, as Nietzsche warned at the end of the nineteenth century — is for it to remain an antiquarian passive collection of facts and dates. With aesthetics, there is the possibility of a careful and theoretically informed excavation to map the singularities and modes of specificity of different media — quirky media devices, for example, that inform a rethinking of materiality in current media practices and arts. For me, the question of singularity and specificity of media in its material qualities for expression is as much a political as an aesthetic question because it points towards thinking of media as potentials for action; what can a medium do? What are its potentials? As an artistic methodology, media archaeology should not only be about using historical themes as a representational focus for a piece of media art. Media archaeological art can invoke concrete alternative histories, can fabricate new machinic apparatuses in an experimental fashion, and can be seen as a way of opening up the workings of technological machines to reveal their microtemporal machinations.

GH: Agreed. Media arts have the potential to skillfully excavate the singularities and specificities of media technologies. For example, the artwork of Paul DeMarinis clearly engages with the spirit of media archaeology and in some cases moves beyond what can be done in text ( One could extend this to claim that DeMarinis’s artwork executes media archaeology more effectively than texts on the topic. Part of this has to do with the limitations of the textual medium: writing multiple layers simultaneously is technically very hard to do. Artistically, it is more straightforward. As a result of the specific constraints of the medium of the printed page, media archaeology functions as a useful methodology for artistic production: it works as an activity as opposed to a narrative. Executing the multilayered component of media archaeology has a clarity when carried through an artwork, as DeMarinis and others do.

JP: True; an increasing number of media archaeologists agree that media archaeology needs to be executed, not constructed as a narrative. History is the form of narratives, while media archaeology is a non-linear engagement with devices and concrete apparatuses that physically carry the past into the present. In, for example, Wolfgang Ernst’s mode of media archaeology, the physicality of technical media seems to become more important than narratives of writing. In any case, DeMarinis is exemplary of proactively working with media archaeological material and excavating differing relations of sensation with media. Examples of this in his work include resurrecting the tactility of media in Gray Matter (1995) or concretely working with the physicality of transmission media, as with the more recent Rome to Tripoli work (2006-2008), which physically recreated the 1908 radio transmitter of Majorana and commented on its colonialist contexts. In addition, another strand of media archaeological art relates to hardware hacking, circuit bending and literally opening up media technologies to reveal the complex wirings through which the time-critical processes of contemporary culture function. This is closer to what Ernst emphasizes nowadays with his „operative diagrammatics.” It’s not only a macrohistorical take on media arts, but microtemporal tinkering and engineering of high-tech that is increasingly closed, as we know, both technically and political-economically.

GH: Apart from media archaeology being valuable in providing a mode of production for media artists, do you think the approach as a method of constructing a history of media arts is in danger of dwelling in archaic marginalia? In my opinion, there still is no clear history of media arts written. Exploring marginalia is useful in the critique of an established body of discourse, but media arts is historiographically not at the stage where it even has a canon. One could argue that the media arts needs a textbook at this point in history, not rewirings via marginality.

JP: But how could we write a history of media arts, as the whole notion of the media arts seems to disperse the concept of media? What if one of the tasks of media arts — and media archaeology — is to continuously renegotiate the definition of a medium?

GH: I’d argue that dispersing the concept of media is not the primary role of media arts. The dispersal of a definition of media is something that may be of interest to media theory, but expanding a definition has little to do with making art. I think it is an overconceptualization to think a history of media arts cannot be written. The construction of a history of the media arts seems straightforward — I think of Frank Popper’s Art of the Electronic Age (1993) or Edward Shanken’s recent Art and Electronic Media (2009) as starting points. Of course there are dangers of lumping diverse artists into specific categorizations or just presenting a collection without a thorough synthesis, but I think a synthetic approach may be more constructive than a media archaeology of media art. In other words, one could say that we need a history to rewire before we can do a rewiring of the discipline.

JP: In terms of Shanken’s great and useful contribution, I think of it more as an archive of sorts than a narrative. It’s not a history book in the mode of narrative that we think of history inherited from the nineteenth century. It’s an archive of various themes and pieces that could lend themselves to different constellations and groupings. We need textbooks on media arts, but I find the idea of a media art history in the singular unworkable. How can we write such histories of media art not historically but more „media artistically,” that is, taking into account the materialities of media through which history is articulated, not relying on written narrative as the only way of producing historical, temporal knowledge? As you said, DeMarinis offers inspiring insights into media history, but not in a narrative mode. In terms of writing such textbooks we both see as needed, categorizations are useful and I don’t object to them, but any synthesis is really good only when it affords further elaborations and new syntheses. Syntheses should be productive, not conclusive — hence disjunctive as well.

GH: What is the value in being uncategorizable, though? Isn’t part of the task of mobilizing sidelined objects and discourses to make them legible and understood? There’s a distinct difference between transdisciplinarity that works to maintain a legibility to its parent disciplines and being unclassifiable and outside of any discipline — „undisciplined” perhaps.

JP: As mentioned earlier, one of the emerging ideas for me is to think of media archaeology as a traveling discipline. Mieke Bal is my reference point in this regard. The background of the idea of media archaeology is that it transgresses institutional disciplines and that its multi-institutional nature is one of its strengths; it moves between media and film studies, history, media arts, and design departments — especially in the North American and German-speaking countries and the Netherlands. It has not yet settled in only one institutional framework. However, it has drawn in its emergence from the resources in those institutions in which transdiscplinary research has been integrated at the outset into the goals and working methods of research and creative practice.

Transdisciplinarity and the ability to extract from a range of theoretical and practical sources underlines media archaeology’s nature as a method and discipline of changing academic times, when (again) disciplinary boundaries are shifting and media related topics span much beyond the strict confines of media as a cultural industry. As a traveling, wandering, and hopefully aberrant enterprise, media archaeology could work towards evaluating its own premises of knowledge both in a field of capitalist new media culture and in the discourses of media theory. Taking it in directions that force it to speak more about politics, affects, sensations, materiality, and embodiment, for example through actual art projects that are media archaeological, is one of the ways to proceed, I would say. As a traveling, nomad enterprise, it also has to be an orphaned one….

GH: This reminds me of Roland Barthes’ claim that, „[i]n order to do interdisciplinary work, it is not enough to take a ‚subject’ (a theme) and to arrange two or three sciences around it. Interdisciplinary study consists of creating a new object, which belongs to no one.” [13] Interdisciplinary work like media archaeology is a nomadic enterprise whose strengths and weaknesses exist through its aberrance. A wandering and traveling discipline can be alluring, but momentum, legibility, and sustainability of the field are difficult to maintain if it is homeless or not understood within a larger body of discourse.

Is media archaeology destined to always be a hybrid discipline? Is creating institutional settings for a sustained work in media archaeology as important as coming up with such creative ideas, objects, or theories?

JP: This is not only the challenge of media archaeology but of humanities in the twenty-first century. There we see a continuous excitement about interdisciplinarity while the actual job markets and curricula lag behind. Any hybrid concept and transdisciplinary homeless theory or object needs caring for, in the sense of sustainability, in order for it to get off the ground, and this is the challenge for the more established figures in this field: to create networks and courses through which the ideas gain wider currency. As such, it is a matter of funding, which in the UK is going to be interesting with the Higher Education and research budgets for Arts and Humanities being slashed. Where I am learning most about „media archaeology” at the moment is in archives and museums where practices of archiving in the age of social media tools, computer forensics, and other new ideas and techniques are implemented.

But I agree, being a nomad in a field that no one can claim as his or her own will always be romanticized, as well as not belonging in the capitalist or proprietary sense. Perhaps that would be a less melancholic sense of seeing transdisciplinarity, although there is the constant danger of the romanticism of being against institutions altogether.

Instead of being anti-institutional, it is perhaps more relevant to build methods of participation and openness within institutions. Though to date media archaeology has primarily been articulated by a few thinkers, such as Zielinski and Huhtamo, it is engaged with many new ways of addressing media history. The future of media studies is a study not only of media, but of archives and temporality. It is a constant creative tension of the old with the new.



[1] For an overview of Digital Contagions, see Joseph Nechvatal’s „IF/THEN: Jussi Parikka’ s Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses” published at newmediaFIX in September 2007 and available online at (Last accessed June 28th 2009).

[2] Jussi Parikka, „The Universal Viral Machine – Bits, Parasites and the Media Ecology of Network Culture” CTheory – An International Journal of Theory, Technology and Culture, December 15th, 2005.

[3] Erkki Huhtamo and Jussi Parikka (eds.), Media Archaeologies (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, forthcoming Fall 2010).

[4] Wolfgang Ernst, „Dis/continuities: Does the Archive Become Metaphorical in Multi-Media Space?” New Media, Old Media. A History and Theory Reader, eds. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Thomas Keenan (New York: Routledge, 2006), 105-124.

[5] See Thomas Elsaesser, „The New Film History as Media Archaeology” CINéMAS, vol. 14 (2004), No. 2-3, 71-117.

[6] Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation. Understanding New Media (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1999).

[7] Erkki Huhtamo, „From Kaleidoscomaniac to Cybernerd: Notes Towards an Archaeology of the Media” Leonardo, vol. 30 (1997), No. 3, 221-224.

[8] Siegfried Zielinski, Deep Time of the Media: Toward an Archaeology of Seeing and Hearing by Technical Means (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006. Orig. 2002).

[9] Michel Serres and Bruno Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture and Time Trans. Roxanne Lapidus (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1995) p.58-59.

[10] See Axel Volmar (ed), Zeitkritische Medien (Berlin: Kadmos, 2009).

[11] Mieke Bal, Travelling Concepts in the Humanities. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002).

[12] Lovink characterized media archaeology as a discipline of reading against the grain, [a] hermeneutic reading of the new against the grain of the past, rather than telling of the histories of technologies from past to present. Geert Lovink, Archive Rumblings: An Interview with German media archaeologist Wolfgang Ernst, Nettime-mailing list, February 26, 2003,

[13] Roland Barthes, The Rustle of Language. Trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1986) 72.

Media Archaeological Resources


Gebhard Sengmüller (

Paul Demarinis (

Julien Maire’s The Inverted Cone at Transmediale 2010 (

Julius von Bismarck’s The Space Beyond Me at Transmediale 2010 (

Garnet Hertz’s Dead Media Research Lab (

Zoe Beloff (

David Link (

Micro Research Lab, Berlin (

Jussi Parikka’s Cartographies of Media Archaeology blog at (

Alex Galloway and Ben Kafka’s New York University course titled „Media Archaeology” in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication (

Mediaarthistories-blog (

The Web Dossier of the 2004 Media Archaeology and Imaginary Media event in Amsterdam, organized by Eric Kluitenberg (


Jussi Parikka holds a PhD in Cultural History from the University of Turku, Finland and is Reader in Media Theory & History at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK. He is the Director of the Cultures of the Digital Economy Research Institute and also the co-director of the Anglia Research Centre in Digital Culture (ArcDigital). Parikka’s new book Insect Media, forthcoming in 2010, focuses on the media, theoretical, and historical interconnections of biology and technology. The co-edited collection The Spam Book: On Viruses, Porn, and Other Anomalies from the Dark Side of Digital Culture was released in 2009, and Media Archaeologies is forthcoming in 2010. Currently he is writing a manuscript on the theory and methodology of media archaeology for Polity Press.

Garnet Hertz is a Fulbright Scholar and contemporary artist whose work explores themes of technological progress, creativity, innovation and interdisciplinarity. Hertz is a Faculty Member of the Media Design Program at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Institute for Software Research at UC Irvine and is Artist in Residence in the Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction at UC Irvine. He has shown his work at several notable international venues in eleven countries including Ars Electronica, DEAF, and SIGGRAPH and was awarded the prestigious 2008 Oscar Signorini Award in robotic art. He is founder and director of Dorkbot SoCal, a monthly Los Angeles-based DIY lecture series on electronic art and design. His research is widely cited in academic publications, and the popular press including The New York Times, Wired, The Washington Post, NPR, USA Today, NBC, CBS, TV Tokyo and CNN Headline News.

Vladimir Bonacic

In bibliografia, computer art, historia komputerów, Uncategorized, wywiady on 31 lipca 2009 at 12:59 pm

Oczywiście królem na gruncie sztuki komputerowej pozostaje Edward Ihnatowicz, chyba nigdy nie zmienię zdania, jednak podczas wizyty na wystawie Bit International, która odbywała się w ZKM w Karlsruhe, zachwyciła mnie rzeźba Bonacica. Nie jestem specjalistką, zatem chciałabym oddać głos prawdziwemu znawcy, kuratorowi wystawy Darko Fritzowi, dlatego poniżej cytuję jego tekst na temat artysty. 

Poniżej dokumentaca z Bit, rzeźba Bonacica DIN. GF100 V.B. 1969.


Vladimir Bonacic – the early works, Zagreb 1968-1971

Darko Fritz



Vladimir Bonacic worked in the Croatian National Research Institute Ruder Boskovic in Zagreb from 1964, where he headed the Laboratory of Cybernetics from 1969 to 1973. He earned his PhD in 1967 in the field of pattern recognition and hidden data structures. In 1968 he began his artistic career under the auspices of the international movement New Tendencies (NT), at the Gallery for Contemporary Art of Zagreb, which had pushed for his inclusion. [1] From 1961 on the movement had been presenting different aspects of lumino-kinetic and neo-constructivist art. [2] The statement of the Brazilian artist Waldemar Cordeiro that computer art had replaced constructivist art [3] found its proof in work by Bonacic. Looking back at the crisis of neo-constructivist art that NT faced in 1965, one of the curators, Radoslav Putar, wrote in 1970, „many followers of the NT have tried to give their work the habits of the machine or else they have based their procedures on the use of mechanical or electric devices; they have all dreamt of the machines – and now the machines have arrived. And they have arrived from a direction which was somewhat unexpected, and accompanied by people who were neither painters nor sculptors.” [4] From the start Bonacic had a critical view on the use of the computer in art for the simulation of reality. He also criticized Michael Noll’s experiment with a Mondrian-like drawing that he had generated by a computer simulation. He said: „The computer must not remain simply as a tool for the simulation of what exists in a new form. It should not be used to paint in the way Mondrian did or to compose music as Beethoven did. The computer gives us a new substance, it uncovers a new world before our eyes. In that world after so long a time scientists and artists will meet again on common ground stimulated by their common desire for knowledge.” [5]

In contradicting Bonacic’s wishes from 1969, computer art pursued a different way. Computer graphics explored the possibilities of computer-generated figurative visuals and entered – with animation and special effects for the mainstream film industry – the commercial world as well as the military sector, advancing the virtual-reality techniques that mimic „real life”. This development led to computer art’s exclusion from the contemporary art scene around the mid 1970’s. [6] Yet Bonacic was one of the artists who found a way to use computers and cybernetic art for humanistic purposes [7].   It took about 20 years before computer-based art found its place again in the contemporary art scene within a new geo-political situation and cultural climate.

Vladimir Bonacic began his artistic career through a collaboration with the artist Ivan Picelj in 1968. It resulted in the electronic object T4 , which was presented in 1969. The title T4 referred to the Tendencies 4 event series. The upper part of the front panel made of small lamps is static and displays the signs „t4t4t”. The rest of the panel lights up following a pseudo-random program. [8] During Tendencies 4 Bonacic was not only showing T4 but a total of 17 works [9] and was awarded one of the prizes for   „computer and visual research”. [10] The jury appreciated „the harmony between the mathematical consequences within the programming and the visualizing of the process resulting from the programming. We praise especially Bonacic’s new approach entailing the solving of problems by including a picture and not a number as a parameter, rendering possible thereby a solution of much more complicated problems.” [11] The „Galois field,” named for mathematician Evariste Galois, was an overall inspiration to Bonacic. In 1974 he wrote, „One of the most interesting aspects of this work [in Galois fields] is the demonstration of the different visual appearance of the patterns resulting from the polynomials that had not been noted before by mathematicians who have studied Galois fields.” [12] 

GF.E 16/4
 (1969 – 1970)

Bonacic used custom-made hardware for all his „dynamic objects”. They were embodied statements of what he later   elaborated on in his critique of the influence on the computer-based arts of commercially available display equipment. [13] The dynamic Object G.F.E 32-S (1969 – 1970) [14] generates four consecutive symmetrical patterns. The screen consists of 1,024 white light pixels. The field generator is part of a special-purpose computer located inside the object. The unit is self-contained and performs the generation of the Galois fields. The clock that controls the rhythm of the appearance of the visual patterns is variable and can be adjusted by the observer between 0.1 seconds and 5 seconds. At a frequency range of 2 seconds the same pattern will repeat itself in approximately 274 years. On the rear of the object the observer finds „manual controls to start, stop and control for the selecting or reading out of any patterns. With binary notation, 32 light indicators and 32 push buttons enable any pattern from the sequence to be read or set.” [15] From our contemporary perspective we see in this work an example of a pioneering use of interactivity in computer-based artworks. From 1969 to 1971 Bonacic developed a higher level of interactivityin the work GF.E (16,4), [16] The field of the interaction extends from the sole object, as was the case with the object G.F.E 32-S [17]. The dynamic object GF.E (16,4) is 178 x 178 x 20 cm in size and half a ton in weight. The front panel shows a relief structure made of 1,024 light fields in 16 colors. Three Galois field generators are in operation to light the grid in different patterns. Those generators interact with other generators controlling the sound played out through four loudspeakers. The viewer can influence both sound and image either manually or by remote control. Sound can be manipulated by the exclusion of some tones. The speed of the visual can be adjusted as well, by looping the selected sequences. The observer cannot change the logic. The entire „composition” of this audio-visual spectacle, which consists of 1,048,576 different visual patterns and 64 sound oscillators, can be played within 6 seconds, or with a duration of 24 days [18].

DIN. PR 18, 1969, Kvaternik Square, Zagreb DIN. PR 18, detail DIN. PR 10, 1971, Ilica, Zagreb DIN. PR 18, 1971, Kvaternik Square, Zagreb

Vladimir Bonacic explored interactivity on a social level, too, installing computer-based works in public spaces. In 1969 the large-scale public installation DIN. PR18 was set up on the facade of the NAMA department store on Kvaternik square in Zagreb.   At that time the square was rather dark with little lighting, so the installation acted also as an additional illumination[19]. Other public installations were set up in 1971 on the NAMA store on Ilica street in the very center of Zagreb and in Belgrade on the façade of the Museum of Contemporary Art [20].

Bonacic criticized the use of randomness in computer-based art, as he considers humans to be simply better in „making the ‚aesthetic program’ relevant for human beings”. Referring to the dictum of Abraham Moles that redundancy makes structure at the expense of originality, Bonacic wrote: „Observing the qualitative relation for the aesthetic measure, we come to conclude that the maximal originality (namely, disorder created by random selection of symbols) brings immense aesthetic values. Let us suppose we have created the program in some other way but still it is the program that will result in an aesthetic object. Using the random generator we shall carry on with random distribution of the existent information. While consistent in use of the random generator, we speak of ‚maximal originality,’ no matter what the results of the program might be. The random generator creates the accidental and unique presentation, which has neither value nor importance for human beings. Such information can evoke various associations in the observer. But a computer used in such a way lags far behind the human being. Even if the expressive potentialities of the computer were equal to those of a human being, the essence of Pollock’s world and creation would not be surpassed, regardless of the complexity of future computers or peripheral units. That, of course, does not mean that a man (or a monkey or other animal) aided by a computer could not create an aesthetically relevant object if they consciously or unconsciously act obeying the law of accident.” [21]

This critique inspired the creation of the object Random 63 in 1969   making use of 63 independent true random generators based on the performances of electronic bulbs. This is the only piece by VladimirBonacic that makes use of   true randomness and can lead us to a mere aesthetic enjoyment. All other „dynamic objects” by Bonacic utilize pseudo-randomness, which in principle allows observation of   mathematical laws.

Bonacic was skeptical about the applicability of information theory to aesthetics, since it takes so little account of semantics. But he approached visual phenomena in a mathematical and systematic way. [22] The „scientification of art” theoretically elaborated on by Matko Mestrovic within the frame of NT [23] finds its mirror image in Bonacic’s working process as the „aesthetization of science”. It seems that Bonacic’s work fulfills Mestrovic’s idea from 1963, that „in order to enrich that which is human, art must start to penetrate the extra-poetic and the extra-human”. [24]




[1] Letter by Boris Kelemen to Jasia Reichardt, September 22, 1968, archives of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb.

[2] On New Tendency movement see Jerko Denegri, Umjetnost konstruktivnog pristupa , Horetzky, Zagreb, 2000. For Information on Bonacic see p. 490 – 497. English edition Constructive approach art: Exat 51 and new tendencies , Horetzky, Zagreb, 2004.

[3] „The constructive art belongs to the past, its contents corresponding to the Paleocibernetic Period being those of the Computer Art.” Waldemar Cordeiro, „Analogical and/or Digital Art, symposium t – 5, The rational and irrational in visual research today , Match of ideas, June 2, 1973″, archives of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

[4] Radoslav Putar, no title, tendencies 4 , 1968 – 1969, exhib. cat., Gallery of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, 1970, n.p.

[5] Vladimir Bonacic „Possibilities for computer applications in visual research”, paper read at the colloquium „Computers and visual research’, August 4-5 th , 1968, Zagreb, published in: Bit international no. 3 , Gallery of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, 1971, p 45 – 58.

[6] Another reason was the negative impact of the use of science and technology by the military-academic-corporate complex in the Vietnam War.   Described by Richard Barbrook: „MIT modernization theory would prove its (USA) superiority over the Maoist peasant revolution. […] Since the information society was the next stage in human development, the convergence of media, telecommunications and computing must be able to provide the technological fix for anti-imperialist nationalism in Vietnam. During the late-1960s and early-1970s, the US military made strenuous efforts to construct an electronic barrier blocking the supply routes between the liberated north and the occupied south. Within minutes of enemy forces being detected by its ADSID sensors, IBM System/360 mainframes calculated their location and dispatched B-52 bombers to destroy them.’ See Richard Barbrook, Imaginary Futures , in: 2005, p. 177 and 182.

Gustav Metzger wrote in March 1969 that ‚The waves of protest in the States against manufacturers of war materials should lead E.A.T. to refuse to collaborate with firms producing napalm and bombs for Vietnam’ and continues ‚Forty-five professors at the M.I.T. have announced a one-day ‚research stoppage’ for March 4 in protest against government misuse of science and technology.” See G. Metzger, „Automata in history”, in: Studio International , London 1969, p. 107 – 109.

In the mid 1970’s main protagonists of computer art as Gustav Metzger and Jack Burnham turned their back to it. Also the Zagreb movement drew back: „Tendencies 6” started with a conference in 1978, but the planned exhibition never took place. As the focus had shifted to conceptual and non-object art, a different exhibition took place.

[7] In 1972 Bonacic founded the „Art and Science Program” at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, where his team accomplished several projects, i. e.   the first functional digitization of the Arabic alphabet (see Impact of Science on Society , Vol. 25, No. 1, January – Mach 1975, p. 90- 94) In 1977 he initiated the collective resignation of the international board of the „Art and Science Program” as a form of public protest against Israel politics in Palestine. He continued to make political statements. His group, the bcd – cybernetic art team , printed 35 posters (1977 – 1979) including images of 385 destroyed Palestinian villages.

[8] In addition to this emblematic object, one static picture delivered form the program was used in the T4 exhibition poster design by Picelj.

[9] Bonacic showed the relief sculpture R. GF100 – 13. , photographs PLNOO74 – 2 IR. PLNS. 0044. 7714. 7554. 7744 – 3 RS. PLMS. 0374. 0124. 0064 – 4 PLN – 5 PLN – 6 PLN – 7 PLN – 8 PLN – 9 and PLNO434 – 10 ; color slides GF0000 – 11 and GF1110 – 12 ; and dynamic objects GF100- 14 and PR 18 – 15 , all programmed on PDP-8 and SDS-930 computers.

10] Together with Marc Adrian and the group Compos 68. The jury consisted of Umberto Eco, Karl Gerstner, Vera Horvat-Pintaric, Boris Kelemen and Martin Krampen.

[11] „‚Computers and Visual Research’, decision of the Competition Jury”, exhibition catalogue tendencies 4 , 1968 – 1969, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Zagreb 1970, n. p.

[12] Vladimir Bonacic, Kinetic art: Application of abstract algebra to objects with computer-controlled flashing lights and sound combinations , in: Leonardo , Vol. 7, Oxford / New York: Pergamon Press 1974, pp 193.

[13] ibid.

[ 14] All „dynamic objects” made in Zagreb between 1969 and1971 making use of pseudo-random algebra of Galois field (signed „GF” in the title) were created using the computer SDS-930. The software programmer was Miro Cimerman. In 1971 „bcd – cybernetic art team” is founded, consisting of Bonacic himself, Cimerman and the architect Dunja Donassy. They will work together until Bonacic’s death in 1999.

[ 15 ] Vladimir Bonacic, „Kinetic art: Application of abstract algebra to objects with computer-controlled flashing lights and sound combinations ” , in: L eonardo , Vol. 7, Oxford / New York: Pergamon Press 1974, pp 193.

[16] This computer sculpture was first exhibited at the Paris Biennale 1971 and later in UNESCO, Paris on the occasion of the 25 th anniversary of this organization.

[ 17] In the article „Kinetic art: Application of abstract algebra to objects with computer-controlled flashing lights and sound” Bonacic elaborates those different kinds of interaction from a practical and theoretical point of view and also considers the use of the brain waves in artistic practice. Published in Leonardo, Vol. 7 , Oxford / New York: Pergamon Press 1974, pp 195 and 196.

[ 18] ibid and Herbert W. Franke and Gottfried Jäger , Apparative Kuns t, Köln: M.DuMont 1973, p. 214 – 217; IBM, Computerkunst , IBM France 1975 (German edition 1978), p. 54

[ 19] Zelimir Koscevic, „Svjetlost nove urbane kulture” („The Light of the New Urban Culture”), in: Telegram , no. 479, July 4, 1969, p. 17. The article appreciates that this public light system is used for an aesthetic purpose instead of a commercial one as regular light-signs and praises its contribution to the democratization of art within the context of the New Tendency movement .

[20] 4 th Triennial of Yugoslavian Art, Belgrade 1970

[21] Vladimir Bonacic „Arts as function of subject, cognition, and time”, paper read at the symposium „Computers and visual research’, May 5.-6., 1969, Zagreb, published inBit international no. 7, Dialogue with the machine , Gallery of Contemporary Art, Zagreb 1971, pp 129 – 142.

[22] Jonathan Benthall, Science and Technology in Art Today , London: Thames and Hudson 1972, p 59 – 63

[23] See the book by Matko Mestrovic, Od pojedinacnog opcem , Zagreb: Mladost, 1967

[24] Matko Mestrovic, no title, 1963, in: tendencies 4 , 1968 – 1969, exhib. cat., Gallery of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, 1970, n.p .

Monoskop/log czyli błogosławiństwo p2p

In książki, Uncategorized on 8 lipca 2009 at 11:48 am

Plecam bloga, którego odkryłam jakiś czas temu. Jest to niesamowite i żywe archiwum publikacji – starszych i nowszych- dotyczących nowych mediów. Strona pozwala na ściąganie książek, dlatego, jeśli tak jak ja chesz być na bieżąco, ale jesteś zupełnie spłukany, ta strona z pewnością Ci się spodoba.

wystawa prac Caldera w Whitney Museum w NY

In kinetic art, prehistoria, Uncategorized, wystawy on 16 grudnia 2008 at 9:49 pm

Calder at Play: Finding Whimsy in Simple Wire

by Holland Cotter, NY Times

Is art basically glorified child’s play, extending into adulthood, through a lifetime, picking up ideas and gaining finesse as it goes? That’s one way to think of “Alexander Calder: The Paris Years, 1926-1933” at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Few exhibitions have focused so intently on one artist’s child within. It’s a Peter Pan syndrome show.

It’s also a large show, with a chunky, charming catalog. Yet it feels intimate and light, not to say lightweight. Gallery by gallery, it’s as suspenseful and insubstantial as a magic act: what will the artist pull from his sleeve next? The story it tells is like a Kids R Us version of early 20th-century Modernism, with a grown-up surprise at the end.

Calder didn’t start out with ambitions to be an artist; if anything, he was pulled in the opposite direction. He watched his father, a professional sculptor, fret over commissions and struggle with money. So when it came time for college the young Calder chose an engineering school in New Jersey over art school.

But of course he was an artist, a natural. He may just not have known at first what that meant. Even as a child he was astonishingly inventive. The tiny figure of a rocking-horse-style bird shaped from brass sheeting is, for economy of form and conceptual daring, one of the more radical works in the show. He made it when he was 11.

He made stuff all the time. He was one of those people with nonstop eyes and hands: every scrap of stray matter was a candidate for transformation. Give him some wire, clothespins and a scrap of cloth and, presto chango, you had a bird or a cow or a circus clown: nothing, then something, which is what magic is.

There’s a hyperactive pace to his early career. While working at engineering jobs after college, he was also drawing like crazy and designing toys. In 1923 he enrolled at the Art Students League to study painting; John Sloan and George Luks were his teachers. At the same time he took on illustrating gigs for publications like The New Yorker and The National Police Gazette.

His academic drawings from the time are gauche and ordinary. The staying-still-in-a-studio they required obviously cramped his style. Much fresher is the dashed-off, manic-looking magazine work. And his Ash Can School-type paintings of New York scenes — a drunken party; a trip to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus — have a gawky spark of life. Then there are his pen-and-ink drawings of zoo animals. They’re in a different category, almost by a different artist, one more relaxed and assured. Often done as one continuous line, they are like an effortlessly sophisticated form of penmanship. So are some of the openwork sculptures of bent and twisted wire that he began to experiment with at this time.

In 1926, with all these balls in the air, he suddenly moved to Paris, because motion for him was a stimulant and because he felt that Paris was the hot place to be, which it was. With its crowded cafes, charged thinking, endless talking and jumpy personalities, the city was hyperkinetic. Calder fell in love with it. And, although he continued to return to New York for long stretches, he made Paris his home base for seven years.

His wire sculpture took off there. Several examples in the form of portrait heads are the first thing you see when you step off the elevator on the Whitney’s fourth floor. They’re an arresting sight, in a gently wow-inspiring way. Wows were what Calder was after, along with chuckles and satisfied ahs. He was a showman, a performer. “See what I can do, right before your eyes, without even trying?” his art seems to say.

For his purposes industrial steel wire was an ideal medium. It was cheap, malleable, portable and equally adaptable to precision work and doodling, which to him were almost the same thing. Wire was like three-dimensional ink; it was a means of combining drawing and sculpture in space.

In the Paris years he used it for portraiture. His first subject was a star he admired from afar, Josephine Baker. She was the toast of the town in the 1920s. One look at film clips of her dancing a semi-nude Charleston tells you why. Calder made five small Baker figures; four are in the show. With their tiny heads, spiraling breasts and long, long single-strand legs, they catch something of the image Baker wanted to project: that of an ethnographic specimen come to irrepressibly self-amused life.

He made other figures too, of the tennis champion Helen Wills, of John D. Rockefeller playing golf. They are the work of a pop illustrator, clever but nothing special. But for people he actually knew, portrait heads were the form of choice. Of the 18 examples in the show, most depict people Calder had met in avant-garde circles in Paris, including celebrity friends like Edgard Varèse, Joan Miró and Alice Prin, the multitasking muse better known as Kiki de Montparnasse. You can see why Calder did these likenesses: they were an attention-getting novelty; they advertised his skill; they gave him a pretext to network.

They also look as if they were fun to make. One of the attractive features of Calder’s art from this period is its gee-I-could-do-that unpretentiousness. At the same time each is a fabulous little virtuosic feat, abstract but exacting. Set on bases or freely suspended, and casting subtle shadows — Jennifer Tipton, the theatrical lightning designer, was in charge of illumination — the portraits have the wit and refinement that will show up again in Calder’s first abstract sculptures.Refinement is not a quality associated with the famously funky tabletop assemblage known as Calder’s Circus. A prime draw of the Whitney’s permanent collection, it has rarely been off view since the museum acquired it 25 years ago. But it gets a rethinking here.Up to now it has been exhibited as a compact, one-ring affair with its many tiny handmade figures — clowns, acrobats, animal trainers and so on — doing all the varied things they do at once. The show’s curators, Joan Simon of the Whitney and Brigitte Leal of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, have separated the components into individual acts meant to be seen as taking place sequentially, a format that corresponds to the way Calder himself presented the work in live performances.

You can see him giving one in a 1955 film by Jean Painlevé, which is in the show. Calder introduces the figures silently one by one, manipulating them and activating the low-tech mechanisms (cranks, pull-strings, air hoses) that animate their activities. If, like me, you’ve always found Calder’s Circus a little too cute for comfort, the film may change your mind.

When at one point Calder slowly and carefully removes layer after layer of hand-sewn costumes from one clown figure until he arrives at what looks like a skeleton, it’s hard to known whether you’re seeing a circus or a medieval morality play. No wonder the original Paris performances pulled in the savvy audiences they did. Jean Cocteau,Marcel Duchamp and Piet Mondrianwere among the many vanguard types who sat on crates and watched with rapt attention.

The Whitney show’s real shock comes a bit later, though, in the last three galleries, when Calder the polymath entertainer becomes Calder the Modern sculptor. The shift happened almost literally overnight. In October 1930 he visited Mondrian’s Paris studio; instantly he became an abstract artist. And for some people Calder starts to become interesting only at this point. No more Kikis and tennis players. Now everything is floating circles and curving lines anchored by balls in space.

But two things stayed constant: motion and play. For conservation reasons only one sculpture in the Whitney show is now motorized as intended; others can be seen in action on film. And action is the essence in a piece like “Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere” (1932-33), which consists of two suspended wooden balls and, set out on the gallery floor, a wooden box, four wine bottles, a can and a gong.

Nothing much, right? Until — as seen on film — the balls, attached to a motorized bar, start to move in a slow circle, hitting a bottle, then the can, then the gong. Music! (Varèse loved this piece.) Yet move a bottle an inch or two this way or that and the performance changes. Turn on a fan or open a window and you could create a new score. The game Calder is playing is a finely tuned, verging on magical, game of chance. And it really is a game. And it really is play.

Between Human And Machine:Feedback, Control and Computing Before Cybernetics, David A. Mindell;October 10, 2002

In cybernetyka, Uncategorized on 3 grudnia 2008 at 11:58 am


About the Lecture

Today, the relationship between feedback, control and computing is associated with Norbert Wiener’s 1948 formulation of cybernetics. But the theoretical and practical foundations for cybernetics, control engineering, and digital computing were laid earlier, between the two world wars. In his book, David A. Mindell shows how the modern sciences of systems emerged from disparate engineering cultures and their convergence during World War II.

„Between Human and Machine” is published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002, and is available at:

Artist and Computer, Ruth Leavitt, 1976

In archeologia mediów, computer animation, computer art, prehistoria, Uncategorized on 23 listopada 2008 at 6:39 pm


Nowa zdobycz internetowa, pod adresem

dostępna jest cała książka, niestety podzielona na rozdziały, zatem do czytania w sieci, ale warto się pomęczyć, bo to dość klasyczna pozycja, szczególnie cenna ze względu na ilustracje.

Spis treści: Table of Contents

Title Page
Ann H. Murray
Robert Mallary
Aldo Giorgini
Aaron Marcus
Colette and Charles Bangert
Ben F. Laposky
Leslie Mezei
Tony Longson
Peter Struycken
Edward Ihnatowicz
Vera Molnar
Laurence Press
Manuel Barbadillo
Patsy Scala
William J. Kolomyjec
Edward Zajec
Edward Manning
Duane M. Palyka
Kenneth Knowlton
Joseph Scala
Karen E. Huff
Miljenenko Horvat
John Whitney
Herbert W. Franke
Charles Csuri
Christopher William Tyler
Manfred Mohr
Ruth Leavitt
Kurt F. Lauckner
Vicky Chaet
Lillian Schwartz
Larry Elin
Hiroshi Kawano
Roger Vilder
Jacques Palumbo

Jak zwykle polecam :)

Przemówienie D.Eisenhowera na temat przemysłu zbrojeniowego i technologii

In art&technology, Uncategorized on 22 listopada 2008 at 4:58 pm

Wklejam tutaj link do ww. przemówienia, ponieważ wydaje mi się ciekawym kontekstem dla wykładu B. Holmes’a, „Escpaing the Overcode”. Rozważania nad związkiem przemysłu zbrojeniowego i technologii, a szczególnie przemysłu zbrojeniowego i sztuki, wydają mi się wciąż bardzo intetesujące. Dwuznaczny charakter tych związków jest według mnie czymś nad czym powinniśmy się zastanowić, choć ostatnio usłyszałam opinię, że nie ma o czym mówić: wszyscy widzą, że rozwój nowych technologii związany jest z przemysłem wojennym i że na wojnie się zarabia. Takie podejście wydaje mi się okropnie cyniczne i nie kupuję go. Bardziej przekonuje mnie to, co w artykule „Automata in History” , wydanym w Studio International w 1968 roku, napisał Gustav Metzger, który stwierdził, że związek sztuki i technologii, jest dla sztuki zabójczy, ponieważ wikła ją w owo dwuznaczne pochodzenie tych ostatnich.

Nic to, moim  zdaniem warto rozmawiać :)

Oto przemówienie:

I jeszcze jedna rzecz, która kiedyś bardzo mnie zainteresowała i jednocześnie przyprawiła o dreszcze. Jakiś smutny pan w mundurze, na tle kartonowego tła mającego przypominać kwaterę wojskową, opowiada o systemi SAGE.

Wyobraźcie to sobie na ekranie Waszego domowego TV.

bibliografia dotycząca archeologii mediów

In bibliografia, Uncategorized on 4 października 2008 at 9:49 pm

S. Zielinski, Deep Time of New Media. Toward an Archeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technological Means, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press 2002;  

Variantology 1. On Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies, ed. by S. Zielinski, Köln: Walther König 2005;

Variantology 2. On Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies, ed. by S. Zielinski, Köln: Walther König 2006)

jak również:

T. Druckery, Imaginary Futures,
<;jsessionid=6CDC085593FCB168D2B6E129C27F0957?articleid=10430> (12.07.2007)

E. Huchtamo, From Kaleidoscomaniac to Cybernerd. Towards an Archeology of New Media, <> (10.05.2007)

B. Sterling, The Dead Media Project, <> (10.05.2007)

O. Grau, Virtual Art. From Illusion to Immersion, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press 2003.

archeologia by @

In Uncategorized on 4 października 2008 at 1:32 pm

Witam wszystkich serdecznie! Chciałabym aby ten blog poświęcony był archeologii mediów. Zatem nie ma on jakiegoś określonego tematu, teoretycznie może się tu znaleźć wszystko, ale przede wszystkim interesują mnie początki i heroiczni pionierzy sztuki nowych mediów. To są czasy, kiedy odpowiedź pytanie – Jak rysować za pomocą komputera? – naprawdę była wyzwaniem:)

Zatem postaram się sukcesywnie umieszczać tu linki do filmów, tekstów i grafiki, dotyczących tej tematyki. Zobaczę czy starczy mi cierpliwości, mam nadzieję.

Niedługo pierwsze wpisy.