German Video Art of the 1980s and '90s


As many of you know, we've got a bit of an 'old' German connection here at the IDEA. It of course has mainly to do with a screening-cum-chat with film-makers and an exhibition of digital imaging that we organized at the Max Mueller Bhavan (Goethe Institute's Delhi base) premises separately over the last couple of years. Needless to say perhaps, at least a couple of folks in MMB also have been receiving copies of the IDEA since its inception and therefore have some little idea of what we're up to.

All said and done, some of what this added up to in return was [a] an invitation to attempt a weeklong workshop scholarship in Germany with e-artists from around the world a couple of months ago, and [b] an interesting meeting with the German curator, researcher and writer Inke Arns on her recent visit to New Delhi.

One spin-off of the latter was an invitation to a sort of farewell dinner with Inke and some others,.. where I was lucky enough to also catch Mr. Peter Sewitz (Director-Programming @ MMB) and reiterate strongly to him that what we really needed from him was help drawing in the participation of German e-artists on The IDEA, since there's certainly a bit of a language barrier to going it heartily on our own with this.

.... and we've struck gold with Peter having quickly sent us a collection of German Video-Art from the 1980s and '90s to begin with. It's an ongoing project of the Goethe Institute in Germany, with books and CD/book combinations, and we've stitched together just a few of the videos from the collection to make the representative movie above.

Below are a couple of lead texts from the books associated with the collection represented here, to explain more about the whole project:


Current Media Art
(Video Art, CD-ROM and Internet Projects from Germany)

Notes on the Concept

Today, the multifarious possibilities of electronic art ~ either linear or non-linear~ are represented by video, CD-ROM and the internet. This selection of contemporary examples concentrates on production from 1994 onwards and focuses on juxtapositions and cross-fertilisations in what has now become a completely natural way of working with the media. The selection was also designed to provide an insight into media art in Germany at an institutional level. For this reason, the Osnabruck European Media Art Festival and the transmedia/VideoFest Berlin were asked to curate categories containing CD-ROM and internet works. The video selection includes award-winning works from other important festivals such as the Bonn Videonale, the Marl Video Art Award as well as the International Awards for Video Art ZKM and SWF. Although it was necessary to limit overall number of works included (the video section is divided into four different thematic strands with a total running time of approximately 45 minutes each) this selection nevertheless provides a useful introduction to the subject. Furthermore, the package can be complemented by individual events and programmes. Andreas M. Kaufmann's contribution is conceived as a loop and can either be shown at the beginning as a programme in progress or as an open end to an event. It can also, however, be shown as a permanent installation on a separate monitor. Last, but not least, the collection includes a Goethe Institute funded internet project by Jochen Grez, a pioneer of video art whose career spans a trajectory right up to the beginnings of media art ~ represented here by the CD-ROM 'Media Art Action'.

Rudolf Frieling (August 1997)


Update 2.0
(Current Media Art from Germany)


'Update 2.0' brings up to date the media package 'Current Media Art' that first appeared in 1998. The latest production in the scope of the joint Goether Institute and ZKM project dedicated to documenting the history of media art in Germany is a catalogue of art produced on videotape, CD-ROM and the internet between 1997 and 000. As a programme or exhibition, 'Update 2.0' can be placed at the disposal of all Goethe Institutes and their local partners.

The survey of German media art produced in the course of this ambitious project, which was decisively initiated and supervised on the part of the Goethe Institute by my predecessor Dr. Norbert Spitz, is unique in its dimensions. Alongside 'Update 2.0', two CD-ROMs in German, English, Spanish and French deliver a multimedia survey of media-art history. The Accompanying books (in German and English) offer introductory essays along with historical texts authored by the contributing artists. The Period from 1960 to 1980 is covered by 'Media Art Action', while the last two decades of the century are covered by 'Media Art Interaction'. Work has already begun on 'Media Art Net', a third project sited exclusively on the Internet.

Thanks to its modular character, the media package is flexible enough to permit concentration on current activities in Germany as well as comparisons with contemporary media art in other countries This aspect of opening up an art-historical and contextual framework is especially important in places with little previous history of work in the new media. Partners collaborating with the Goethe Institutes ~ namely artists, curators, art historians and all institutions involved in promoting media art ~ constitute the main target group of the package.

Cordial thanks are due to all those who contributed to the realization of this exhibition project, and especially to its curator, Rudolf Frieling at ZKM, as well as the colleagues he 'recruited' at media-art festivals: Inke Arns, Micky Kwella, Alfred Rotert, Marcel Shwierin and Reinhard R. Wolf. Equal thanks must be conveyed to Sybille Weber, who has acted as editor throughout the project, and of course of the contributing artists.

Bernd Desinger
Broadcasting and New Media Division
Central Administration of the Goethe Institute

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