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Beginnings of International Media Art in Austria
2000-05-11 until 2000-08-06
This ambitious and extensive project of the Generali Foundation explores the beginnings of art and technological media in Austria. For the first time Austrian achievements in the international context and its mutual exchange will be presented. The exhibition will restage Austrian artistic productions, exhibitions, and events of primarily international impact, not only at the Generali Foundation but also reaching into TV, radio, and the web, as well as offering archives and an accompanying publication.
The development of communications and recording technologies after the World War II awakened the interest of artists in the aesthetic, political, and social influence of mass distribution and global communications. In the late sixties and early seventies, artists in Austria, some coming from Actionism and Expanded Cinema, began working with the new media then on the market (video equipment, stereo-magnetophone, tape recorders). These pioneers of Austrian media art were very much part of the international flow of information on current developments in art and either gathered experience abroad or contextualized their own, independent approaches with those of international artists, especially from Germany and North America.
Among the many important international exhibitions and symposiums in Austria, the audiovisual messages of 1973 in the Trigon series in Graz are particularly noteworthy. They have been the first international manifestation of video art in Europe, where projects from Austrian, Italian, and Yugoslavian artists (Trigon) were presented along with the first European presentation of a large selection of videos by US artists. Their main concerns included such issues as dematerialized, mediatized art; the extension of the concept of material; the heightened dynamics of the relationship with the recipient; the redefinition of the work and, therefore, the concept of authorship; and the development of alternative means of production and distribution. In the late seventies and early eighties, these international telecommunications projects, some of which were initiated in Austria, reached their theoretical and practical zenith.
Through a series of interdisciplinary events on performance and media art, on theory and art, in so-called information galleries and non-profit institutions, Vienna, Graz, and Innsbruck became important destinations in the seventies for many of the most famous international artists. At the same time Austria's media artists were invited with increasing frequency to major international events abroad. Finally, in the late seventies and early eighties, a young
generation of artists emerged in Austria, for whom the many new media and the international art scene had become second nature. In 1979, at the first Ars Electronica Festival in Linz,
a new approach to presenting the alliance of art and technology attracted a broad local public as well as professionals in the arts, sciences, and technology from all over the world.
The Austrian broadcasting corporation (ORF), specifically the programs Kunst-Stuecke and Kunstradioas well as Kunstradio on line, will function both as (medial) extensions and as independent sections in the exhibition. In addition to features on the exhibition RE-PLAY, historical works will be broadcasted on television, radio, and the Internet, including premieres of works never aired before. Conversely, works from the visual and sound archives of ORF as well as Kunst-Stuecke and Kunstradio will be represented at the Generali Foundation. In connection with this project, ORF plans to take a more active part in the production and distribution of contemporary art, acting not only as a place or a medium where art is reproduced but also where it happens. In cooperation with the
Generali Foundation, ORF plans to commission and air new TV works by artists of the middle to young generations.
In addition to some 30 video and audio installations, the exhibition will show about
180 Single Channel Videos and audio works by 16 Austrian and 40 international artists
(see enclosed provisional list). A number of works will have to be restored or reconstructed.