AN INTERMEDIUM AS A PART / RESULT OF A WIDER PROJECT STRUCTURE
The occurrence of generous forms of installations and video installations (typical form of video media became an autonomous video after 2000) started to gradually diminish after the turn of the new millennium. Amongst other factors, it is associated with the increasingly limited possibilities to support their production from the side of galleries. The process of the delimitation of state galleries under the scope of self-governing regions occurred in 2000. One of the major negatives caused by a change of organizer, is the lack of finance for research, presentation and obtaining new media acquisitions. In the 1990s, new media (also as an intentional counterweight against the preferred model of so-called “national” art preferred by means of the period of Vladimír Mečiar’s policy) were presented along with their supported creation by: The Považie Region Art Gallery (PGU) in Žilina, The State Gallery (ŠG) in Banská Bystrica, The Tatra Gallery (TG) – Powerstation in Poprad, the Ján Koniarek Gallery (GJK) in Trnava and in particular The Soros Center for Contemporary Art (nowadays The Foundation – Center of Contemporary Art (Nadácia – centrum súčasného umenia)). The retreat of installation and video installation dominance, however, is associated particularly with the onset of new art paradigms of the first decade of the 21st century, such as the postproduction principle and relational aesthetics, social change, its significant art penetration into a public space (or a situation where a public space becomes a creative medium), the predefinition of the artist’s role in the position of organizer and manager. The new younger generation of fine art artists works more freely with installations – determining the position of the component of a wider art work complexity. At the same time, the installation is exempt from the excessive syncretic features that complicated its interpretation in the 1990s.
In connection with the new themes and trends in art, after the year 2000 we particularly include among the distinctive representatives operating with installation and the object’s media: Erik Binder (1974), Viktor Frešo (1974), Marek Kvetan (1976), who applied kitsch category, also called “low art”, as the natural reference values in realizations, Stano Masár (1971), Milan Mikula (1963) with creations exceeding a site-specific character into art “sensitive to associations”, and the duo Anetta Mona Chișa (1974) and Lucia Tkáčová (1977), whose works are reasses gender, feminist and activist art. Radovan Čerevka’s installations (1980) communicate political themes and are a critique of the practices of mass communication media; the realizations of Svätopluk Mikyta (1973), Tomáš Džadoň (1980) and Michal Moravčík (1974) have a historiographical basis, confronting the past with the present; the creations of Štefan Papč (1983) and Pavla Sceranková (1980) is an example of applying new intermedia and interactive relationships to the medium of sculpture and objects.
After 2000, as some continuation of the line of intermedia forms of art there appear participatory art projects carried out in a public space. They often have the structure of an open happening with public participation, syncretizing several kinds of artistic activities in that space. Although the advent of “social change”, of which participatory art is a part, is later than the one in Euro-American art in Slovakia, a typical feature of it is that the main protagonists are the artists, whose creation had a strong intermedia character in the 1990s (in the sense of creating objects, installations and site-specific realizations). Anton Čierny’s projects include the element of the personal reconnaissance of selected space recorded through video, in which he subsequently forms also the situations in which the element will be also applicable to the wider public (Sikorová-Putišová, 2014, p. 47). Ilona Németh’s realizations are also directed at public spaces in the new millennium and articulate an attitude towards selected delicate socio-political themes, whereas the viewer is (consciously or unconsciously) engaged into a definitive form as the work’s co-creator in several instances. Also, some of Roman Ondák’s works are characterized by a participation strategy, realized after 2000. Daniela Krajčová (1983) represents creators of this type of production from the younger generation. Her pro-society oriented projects are integrated with a selected social group. The result of such cooperation is animations as manuals for their application in major society (Sikorová-Putišová, 2014, p. 47). The collaborative projects of Pavlína Fichta Čierna (1967) and Matej Vakula (1981) (http://transitioners.net/) are similar in nature to social activism, integrating multiple forms of artistic and common civil activities. Within the projects the artists are surrendering the traditional position of the creator in favor of the community, leading to the establishment of work complexity from the organizers’ position.
NEW MEDIA / DIGITAL ART AFTER 2000 (digital graphics, interactive installations, software art, virtual reality, net art)
When we focus on the character of digital media in the present or recent past as the most generative offshoot of art, we are confronted with the fact that technically (through software) generated media not only have a significant impact on art itself, but are also influences even our experience with them, whereas this so-called medial experience becomes an aesthetic norm. In connection with this phenomenon called the “postmedial situation”, in Slovakia it can be considered primarily as the impact of technical media on those others (Weibel, 2011, p. 439-440, Hrubaničová–Geržová, 2012, p. 34-41).
The period of approximately the last fifteen years is a period when art and visual culture have been irreversibly changed by new media – technical apparatuses and software have become commonplace in an artist’s equipment alongside their usage skills. This area of the visual art is undeniably attractive (especially for the younger generation). When trying to approach the situation in this sphere even without the ambition of a more thorough or already carried out state analyses (Rusnáková, 2006, p. 227-247, Rusnáková, 2012-I, p. 10-25, Rusnáková, 2012-II, p. 8-33), the reality is such, however, that except for a few solitary figures with the distinct line of such creation, it is rather an episodic matter for many artists, although it is often a matter with key results for the development of digital art (as part of the new media art).
The manifestations of the post-modern situation are present in digital and electronic graphics, in which multiple creators started to apply 3D modeling software programs in the new millennium – in particular Vladimír Havrilla (1943), Roman Galovský (1962); remediation processes (i.e. digital “freshening” analog and generally a photographic image followed by modification via computer animation) are typical for Miro Nicz (1963); morphing technique (such as a continuous or repeated blending of one image into another) conditioned the establishment of a series of Peter Rónai’s manipulated self-portraits (1953). Important contributions of the younger generation are Marek Kvetan’s realizations (1976) created by using programs altering the original digital or a digitized recording to another visual image, for example, through data compression. In this line there are specifically his “compressions” in which the films’ frames (e.g. Jurassic Park, Star Wars and others) are compressed: “mutually layered” into one with the result of an abstract image.
Digital forms of art such as interactive installations, in which there is direct contact with a work through the interface are attractive to the audience, however, difficult to produce and rather rare in Slovakia. Matej Krén’s (1958) interactive digital realization Virtual Rock Garden (1995 – 1996) draw from a similar basis as in his installations, in which the building unit was an accumulative quantity of books. A viewer could find and read a particular title through a laptop in the simulated “rock garden” of artificial stones formed from books. In another realization, Cinema (1996), consisting of a dimensional, computer controlled moving mirror (like a movie screen), installed in a purified space, does not offer the viewing of a film image, but on the contrary, a confrontation with reality.
Using computer software to create work was typical even for a few of Pavlína Fichta-Čierna’s realizations (1967) from the first half of the 2000s, while she closely worked with a programmer in their implementation. From the view of the possibility of interacting with them the project Ani veľa, ani málo (Not Much, Not Too Little) (2001) was the most accessible and was installed in a public space. In a modified ATM, instead of selecting cash a viewer could see (selecting by pushing a corresponding button) a few short videos capturing the artist in private. She similarly made several series of videos accessible in which people of a different type from the respondents did not want to answer a question (not asked in the videos) through a tactile screen in the Infoterminál (Infoterminal) realization (2004).
From the younger generation, Richard Kitt’s works resonated more significantly, who exclusively focuses on digital media (and on net art, sound art, software art, and more). The interactive installation Inri Wiper (2011) is the visual-kinetic paraphrasing of Christ’s icon (by the creator A. Rublev) shifted to a kindly ironic form, as based on the viewer’s interaction – a smile, a tear starting to drop from Christ’s eye in the enlarged detail of a digital image, which is subsequently “wiped” by a little real incorporated windshield wiper. The essence of the Video Drilling realization (2011) is a direct physical contact with the viewer, who by means of an installed drill at a certain point of the human body’s torso projection, causes its total destruction, thus gradually falling apart into pixels. Roman Galovský (1963) was in the long term the only Slovak creator who generated virtual reality as a form of fine art expression, which required at that time costly and in the mid-90s still relatively inaccessible technical equipment. He was the first one who simulated it in the Synagogue space of Ján Koniarek Gallery in Trnava (the Inside project, 1996). It was a contribution to the cycle dedicated to the place’s genius loci, but unlike most artists who thematically draw them from broader historical and societal contexts, he raised the possibility of becoming the cycle’s part irrespective of the particular time. After a longer period virtual reality emerged in Slovak art conditions through the interactive digital installations of Ivor Diosi (1973), arising from 2000 and based on modified computer game software. One of them is Home Dictate (2004), drawing from the Unreal Tournament computer game, in which the user through their voice activates and subsequently controls a group of avatars, whereas their appearance is scanned during the game and the image is generated in the game. This is a paraphrasing of important politicians’ speeches and their impacts on the masses with all the positives and negatives. Michal Murin’s (1963) upgrade of the Múzeum súčasného umenia v signature (Museum of Contemporary Art at Signature) project (2003) also has the form of an interactive virtual environment. A realization, having the basis of the digital animation of the Museum of Contemporary Art architecture, whose dispositions are generated by “a plan” emerging from the contours of the artist’s signature, was adjusted for the needs of the Digital Media event in 2009 (an exhibition of students and teachers of the Department of Intermedia and Digital Media in the Faculty of Fine Arts of (FVU) the Art Academy in Banská Bystrica; also other works besides those, which were actually represented at the exhibition, could be seen in the virtual interior of the museum) (Rusnáková, 2012-II, p. 8-33).
Marek Kvetan (1976) in his Elimination Game realization (2000) also individually used computer game software in his creations. The realization was the hyperbolized concept of a normal elimination game in its expression, while its content and process of expression should emphasize the inhumanity of real war conflicts at that time. Thus eliminating (bombardment of the city), controlled by the player in the position of a shooter, depicted in the middle of projections, caused gradual “elimination” – erasing the image of an individual lying on a hospital bed in the second half of the picture.
Zdeno Hlinka (1975) is one of the other artists using software for generating visual work. Through his cooperation with Erik Binder he realized Projekt snov (The Project of Dreams) (2003) as the program-operated transcript of archived winning lotto numbers (Športka) and Lotto into 3D spaces, giving the impression of artificial digital paradises. Ján Šicko (1977) is an artist whose creations integrate graphic design and interactive projections resulting in typographical scenography. The projections’ basis is a typographic transcription into calligraphic drawing, involved in the construction of an interactive motion structure, of which the viewer becomes a fixed part and by their presence/motion can modify it. In 2002 this principle was also applied in the digital scenography for the game Pokusy o její život (Attempts on Her Life) (by Martin Crimp). His 3bot game for iPhone is a relatively outstanding example “of applying art to a wider practice” within Slovakia.
Pavlína Fichta Čierna and Miro Nicz’s contributions were quite rare until now, but in terms of the frequency of Internet art manifestations in Slovakia they are, however, emblematic. In the Communica.tor realization (2000) Čierna was, during the duration of the exhibition (Manipulative Art, The Považie Region Art Gallery (PGU) in Žilina), in continuous contact with visitors through SMS messaging transmitted through the Internet from an interface, which was a PC present in the gallery. So practically she had to answer their questions at any time. In addition to the attractive interactivity the installation was exceptional due to its possibility of online communication, which had not yet been entirely conventional at that time in Slovakia. Miro Nicz responded to the globalization phenomenon and the threat of privacy loss, caused by the Internet, in the Priamy prenos (The Live Broadcast) project (Nitra Gallery, 2000), when he was navigating visitors through texts lined up from paving blocks on the floor of the gallery. Visitors were scanned by cameras without their knowing and the images were subsequently displayed on a website. The Meet the Radio Artists project (2000) by the duo LENGOW & HEyeRMEarS (Michal Murin and Jozef Ceres) was, conversely, characterized by using the positive features of the Internet, particularly the availability of information regardless of where the individual is located. The artist were broadcasting their sound works of art live via the Internet radios of many cities (Belgrade, Budapest, Vienna), and a pair of organizers were receiving them, publicly presenting them and thus subsequently mixed and adjusted, were placed on the Internet for further availability.
At present, when the distinct domain of the Internet are social networks, Ján Valica’s (1979) subversive project Jánošík od Andyho Warhola (Jánošík by Andy Warhol) (2009) is challenging. The artist generated a hoax – an alerting message spread by the Internet and the social networks of the allegedly found unknown Jánošík painting by Warhol – a website with false data about the event created, including footage of how this work was installed (in fact manipulated into a photographic exposure) at the Andy Warhol Museum in Medzilaborce. The hoax persuasiveness also demonstrates that it was believed by the several people and journalists who contacted the museum. The artist pointed to the inability of distinguishing truth from fiction in the Internet environment and that often even communication media fail, but also to the fact that many media abuse this factor in their favor (Rusnáková, 2012-II, p. 8-33). Although a significant part of Matej Vakula’s (1981) (http://vakula.eu/blog/mfps/) project Manuály na použitie verejného priestoru (The Manuals for the Use of Public Space) (since 2011) takes place in real time and space, the Internet is its parallel sphere of action. The project with elements of social activism is dedicated to repairing the public sphere’s operation and serves as a passage to its inaccessible parts. The artist particularly performs it through workshops. Its distinctive part is the use of the Internet – it opens the possibility for the leaving of a reaction or the manual for public space by any person on the website built up by the creator, which serves as the assembly site of ideas and initiatives intended to further the free sharing.
PROMOTION AND PRESENTATION OF INTERMEDIA AND MEDIA ART AT PRESENT
Not only the persistent discrepancies in terminology bound with the term intermedium, but in particular with the terms of new media, multimedia, and media art, together create a picture of this artistic production field in Slovakia. Among the few entities – institutions or associations devoted to this type of art – particularly its presentation, research, and almost exceptional collecting, there has been no entity continuously devoted to it since 1989. Fragmentary, sporadic and not at all systematic forms of research and presenting of new media art, digital art and new media art after 1990 are typical features of the forms, if we view this field through the “optics” of an institutional background and through the artistic operation of Slovak collection-creating galleries. Although the number of entities devoted to them is nowadays higher compared to the 1990s, civic associations playa significant role, but only a very few pay attention solely to them, or in other words their interest regarding this sphere is not their sole or main activity. The Považie Region Gallery in Žilina in 1990s was a “pioneer” in presentations and the vocational processing of new media and intermedia art. Thanks to exhibiting activities, from which the gallery’s program obtained acquisitions, has established itself till nowadays as a still unbeaten significant segment in the collection of intermedia and media art. Selected works from the gallery can be found in the long-term exhibition Prvé múzeum intermédií (The First Intermedia Museum), which by its nature (the orientation on the works of new media categories) is the only one of its kind in Slovakia. In particular, the Priestor Gallery for Contemporary Art was intensely devoted to multimedia presentations in the 2000s, later renamed the Space and Gallery of Ján Koniarek in Trnava. At present, as already mentioned, this kind of art presentations are rather a part of broader composed exhibition programs, more systematic works of this kind mainly exhibited by Kunsthalle Bratislava, The Nitra Gallery, The Považie Region Art Gallery in Žilina and The HIT Gallery in Bratislava.
Among the non-state entities, alongside the institutions subsidized by public funds, carrying out their activities as part of a network culture, typical for the creation and realization of new media art, CA Buryzone was one of the few associations with an expressive continuity. It was founded in 2001, from 2004 working under the Burundi name, and in 2005 – 2009 as “13 kubíkov” (13 cubic metres). The activities of this association, focused primarily on multimedia, support of a network culture, presentation and promotion of new media through exhibitions, seminars, workshops were inspiring events of this type in the 2000s, and simultaneously significantly tangible compared to rare activities implemented in the galleries, which in this regard appeared as relatively inflexible and stagnant. Since 2002, there has existed the Multiplace entity as a “network of people and organizations devoted to scientific and technological interaction with art, culture and society” (http://multiplace.org/blog/). The website www.monoskop.org, as a database of media art in Central Europe and Slovakia, is an irreplaceable feat given by the continuous mapping and research of new media, performed by a non-gallery entity.
The more distinctive profiling of intermedia art and new media in particular, took off rather late in the academic field – after the year 2000. The Department of Fine Arts and Intermedia in the Faculty of Arts of Technical University in Košice has the longest history of education in this field, founded in 1998, under which there has been New Media Studio since 2004, oriented particularly on the teaching of media & digital arts. Until then, the 3D Studio of Free Creativity had been providing learning opportunities in this area. The Department of Intermedia and Multimedia at the University of Fine Arts in Bratislava established itself after restructuralization and the merging of several existing studios following 2007. A significant segment of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, focusing on multimedia, interactivity and relevant theory, is the so-called MediaLab existing within the Department of Visual Communication. The Department of Intermedia and Digital Media in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Academy of Arts in Banská Bystrica was established in 2001.
Right within the academic sphere in the Slovak Republic (the above mentioned departments and studios) it is significantly determinative in terms of the production, reflection and reconsideration of new media arts and digital media. Most of the works are created on the universities’ grounds, having the desired integrity of the content and also mastered technical expression, and particularly master and doctoral works being typical. As a paradox, however, a marked disparity occurs between their density in academia and the greatly reduced number of those that arise beyond. It must be attributed to the weak background by the relevant institutions (galleries – these works, complicated in production, are becoming parts of collections only sporadically). This is also due to a generally valid phenomenon: after the loss of patronage of the academic environment, the new media and digital media realization significantly becomes difficult (as it is also in the case of other media, fine art and the implementation of creation after graduation). On the other hand, there are just schools, in which intermedia art, new and digital media were intensively and professionally processed in the past decade due to the high concentration of art theoreticians and visual artists. Important outputs are particularly several textbooks and literary publications revaluating and summarizing these media in the foreign and Slovak context; further there are the implementations of interdisciplinary workshops, lectures and creating a mediatheque of avant-garde, experimental film, videos and digital works of art at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Academy of Arts (FVU AU) in Banska Bystrica. Demands on the operation and ensuring the functioning of more complicated technical apparatuses, on which works of this type are based, is under the timely greatly reduced possibility of presentation, and therefore works of this category are generally represented in shorter events, especially festivals, which are orientated on the current visual culture. The most prominent among them is the Multiplace international festival (Festival of the Network Culture) as one of the main products of the abovementioned homonymous network carried out since its inception in 2002 and is primarily dedicated to new media, with an emphasis on their overlapping into the broader cultural contexts. The Intermedia.bb international festival (New Media Festival) has been held since 2008 in Banská Bystrica, is aimed at intermediate and interdisciplinary overlapping. Another is more broadly composed, not only oriented on new media, the White Night/Nuit Blanche international festival, dedicated to current visual art, in which, however, these media have their irreplaceable place.