by Rossitza Daskalova


The fact that a remarkable body of net art is being produced by artists who originate from the former Eastern Block is an important phenomenon in contemporary culture worth exploring and reflecting upon. Some of the most prominent artists on the net, as well as some of the pioneers of the Internet as an art medium come from ex-communist East-Central Europe. In many ways, their work is historical and they are continually inventing and reinventing the language of this latest art form.

The Internet appeared in our civilization within the context of events such as the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Cold War. These changes on the political arena overlapped with the technological revolution and the communication boom propelled by the Internet. Breaking the long silence and bridging the gap between worlds, the Internet came as a new, vast and neutral ground where communication can unravel. Often seen as the next frontier, perhaps even the promised, virgin land, its functions are as much mythic as demythologizing.

After a long period of isolation, the Internet, inherently pluralistic and democratic, became the embodiment of an openness for the societies of the former Eastern Block which are still undergoing a process of reconstruction. Aside from the East-Central European artists' extraordinary curiosity about the "free world" and their urge for expression and experimentation, art needed to be renewed and reinvented. The Internet was an unoccupied ground into which art could be transplanted and new ideas conceived, away from the worn out, centralized art institutions of the former communist rule and the already established art system in the West. The Internet emerged as a privileged space for change and growth, as well as to contribute to an expanded consciousness. It continues to be a territory in which East and West can meet because the need and the will for communication manifests itself on both sides of the former "curtain."

At a time of major political and economic transformations, the Internet came to East-Central Europe as an immediate, accessible resource for communication and expression, as well as a tool for understanding what actually is happening in the world now. The Internet was approached by artists from the ex-socialist countries critically. Nevertheless, innocence and idealism lost, perhaps for the better, does not prevent artists to work in unfettered and impassioned ways. Furthermore, criticism and skepticism are the main sources for making artworks out of the Internet. They often are net art's subversive raison d'être, its subject, its tool and materials. In these respects, the Internet medium is equipped to be applied specifically as a new critical instrument and as a new system endowed with the flexibility required to operate creatively and weave new ideas into the changing/changeable world which has produced it.

I would like to point out that although the state of media art, in particular, in post communist Central and Eastern Europe is not homogenous and varies by country, this text outlines some of the important centers and events in this part of the world which shares a common political past. Evidently, this overview including roughly work effectuated in the field of media art and in the former Eastern Block could hardly be exhaustive. Much has been accomplished and yet the conditions for creating on the Net and making art with new technologies is far from flourishing in the former Eastern Block in its entirety.



It all started in the early 90's with the Open Society Foundations Network established in the former Eastern Block countries by the American philanthropist of Hungarian origin, Mr. George Soros. Inherently related to the concept of the Open Societies, evidently, one of the major Soros Foundation's projects is the Internet Program which at the beginning focused on connectivity and training, and consequently spread out to media art. In an interview for Telepolis, Olia Lialina tells the story of how she became a net artist: "Actually I'm a child of the Soros foundation's policy to provide computers instead of money. In 1995 our film club, CINE FANTOM, asked for money to invite people from abroad, but we got a computer and a modem instead...The program called "Internet" started in 1992 with a budget of 100 million dollars. The aim was to support non-commercial organizations in St. Petersburg, Moscow and 33 Universities in the Regions. By 1999, 30 universities were connected to the Internet. "

Despite numerous criticisms, the contribution of the Soros Foundations Network in creating a solid base for contemporary art in the former Eastern Block in a time of political turmoil and economic crisis can hardly be disputed. With its initiative and support were created the Centers for Contemporary Art. The Open Society New Media Program allows the establishment of media art labs which constitute a base for production and presentation of net art. To the present, the SCCA's are still either partially or entirely funded by the Soros Foundation:
C3 (Hungary)
WRO Center for Media Art Foundation (Poland)
LABoratory for New Media Art (Czech Republic),
Ljudmila, Ljubljana Digital Media Lab (Slovenia)
The Media Art Lab in Moscow
E-Media Center (Estonia)
Re-Lab (Latvia) electronic arts and media center
Student Computer Art Society (Bulgaria)

Soros' Open Society Institute also participates in the funding of recurrent new media events such as SEAFair in Skopje (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and Ostranenie: The International Electronic Media Forum in Dessau, Germany; it provides funds for conferences, symposia, exhibitions, workshops, residencies and publications. Toward the end of the 90' however, funding for the arts has diminished. In 1999 The Soros Open Society Institute established the I_CAN Association (International Contemporary Arts Network) based on the former Soros Centers. Its aim is to promote communication and cooperation in the field of contemporary visual arts. The I_CAN site will open soon. Many of these centers formed various partnerships in order to continue their existence. On the other hand, the relative breaking apart of the Soros Network had a democratic resonance: it gave opportunities to new artists, who were not in the circles which were formed around the Soros Foundations.



Fondation Daniel Langlois
Since 1997, the Montreal-based
Daniel Langlois Foundation has participated in funding centers and events in post-communist East-Central Europe such as the Art Today Foundation in Bulgaria for the New Media event Communication Front 2000, the new media LABoratory at the Foundation and Center for Contemporary Arts in Prague and the WRO International Media Art Biennale : WRO2000@kultura organized by the WRO Center for Media Art Foundation in Poland.

The contemporary art institutions and media art organizations often team up with Western partners. Western-European participation is also a factor in the development of media art in former communist countries. East-West exchange programs have been established, such as the European Cultural Backbone Exchange Program, APEXchanges, Kaleidoscope. Among the European institutions supporting events and exchange programs are ProHelvetica, the European Foundation, the Goethe Institute, and the national West-European Arts Councils and Foundations.




A tremendous amount of work has been done by the
V2_Organization in Rotterdam (The Netherlands), coordinated by Andreas Broeckman, in order to transcend the cultural divide between East and West. Defined as an Institute for the Unstable Media and an interdisciplinary center for art and media technology, this organization was founded in 1981. In addition to its V2_Lab production section, V2_Web, V2_Events and V2_DEAF (the Dutch Electronic Art Festival), in 1995/1996 V2 launched its V2_East initiative. At the first V2_East meeting, in January 1996 during the Next 5 Minutes Conference in Rotterdam, just before DEAF 1996: Digital Territories (in September), the Syndicate was formed, as an affiliation of East-West European artists, critics, curators and cultural workers in the field of the electronic arts. The goal of this initiative is to intensify the communication and the creative collaboration between East and West. As Andreas Broeckman points out: "The spirit is pinpointed by Vuk Cosic's proposal for the Ljubljana Digital Media Lab to create the 'Ljudmila_West' initiative that would support Western media practitioners and help them to learn from the Eastern expertise." In a subversive way which is characteristic of the new media milieu, the Syndicate designated its territory as Deep Europe , a term which came about during the Syndicate workshop at the Hybrid Work Space (Documenta X), when Bulgarian media artist Luchezar Boyadjiev said: "Europe is deepest, where there are a lot of overlapping identities." The use of the term 'Deep Europe' suggests the Syndicate's purpose from the onset.

The Syndicalists organize their meetings on a regular basis at festivals: LEAF97 (Liverpool East European Electronic Arts Forum), Documenta X in Kassel (Deep Europe workshop), Ars Electronica Festival in Linz (the Syndicate Net.Shop, September 1997) , Ostranenie 97 in Dessau, SEAFair 1998 (Junction meeting); independently, the Syndicate organized Pyramedia, a meeting held in Tirana (Albania) in 1998.

The Syndicate network lists events, institutions, articles and publications. A mailing list for exchange of information is being archived which plays an important role in the organization of events and meetings, as well in taking action and providing support. One of the most recent actions was a petition in support of the Albanian artist and curator Edi Muka, who was threatened by the Albanian authorities to be removed from the Pyramedia Project.



ECB (European Cultural Backbone is a coalition of media-cultural institutions and individuals established in March 1999. Its purpose is to solidify the existing collaborative structures and to support the development of independent media and information technology practices in contemporary culture. One of the principal aims is to work on the improvement of the technical infrastructure for media culture, "...develop new tools for creative expression and widen access to them, enhance participatory and inclusive forms of social interaction, stimulate critical public debate about the social and cultural effects of technological development..." Among the initial member organizations that participated in the ECB launch meeting in Vienna in March 1999 are: Ars Electronica Center (Austria), ARTEC (UK), De Balie (Netherlands), C3 Center for Culture & Communication (Hungary), Open Studio/WRO Foundation (Poland), Public Netbase t0 (Austria), V2_Organisation (The Netherlands).

ENCART (European Network for CyberART) was founded in 1998. This partnership was formed between C3 in Budapest (Hungary) and three major institutions of electronic multimedia arts: Ars Electronica Center in Linz (Austria), V2_Lab in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and ZKM - Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe (Germany). ENCART supports network culture and cyberart. It serves as "a common platform using high bandwidth network connections for artists in residence programs and for the joint distribution of seminars, lectures, workshops and in the long term as shared workspace for the realization of artworks."

BAN (Balkan Art Network) was created in 1999 during the "Initial conference on reconstructing the cultural production in the Balkans," Sarajevo (BIH). Melentie Pandilovski, Director of the SCCA-Skopje, points out: "There was an immense need fro the creation of BAN, as there were not many links in this field between the Balkan countries, due to the well-known situation of the nineties. Despite all divisions, this in fact represented a situation never accepted by the artists and cultural workers in our region. The Network was at first seen as facilitating the communication and opportunities for Contemporary Art Centers by structuring a systematic approach to the possibilities and difficulties in the arts. The goals of BAN were proclaimed: to facilitate artists' mobility and exchange of production and presentation of artwork, to enhance the awareness of local, regional and common problems as well as resources..."

NICE (Network Interface for Cultural Exchange in the region of the Baltic Sea & North-East Europe and beyond...) was established in 1999 during the Baltic Sea Media Space Meeting within the framework of TEMP - Temporary Media Lab Project in Kiasma, Helsinki (Finland). NICE's members are media culture institutions and media labs from Sweden, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Norway; its goal is to support and stimulate collaboration between them. This structure also serves as a link to similar initiatives in the rest of Europe." At the meeting in Riga it became evident that relatively small environment had grown to include representatives from Central Europe as well as Asia and South America. The network does not wish to be geographically exclusive and the meeting decided that a main issue is the situation of small cultures and languages in an emerging new media culture with global impact." (from the Press Release for the NICE meeting in Riga entitled "InterCultural Jamming" held on August 25th 2000 during the 4th International New Media Festival "Art+Communication") (see Events)

BIN (Baltic Interface Net) developed since 1996. The members are new media cultural institutions from the former Eastern Block and Western Europe. An example of BIN's collaborative work is the Baltic Interactive Art Project. "Ideally the BIN should act as a cultural communication canopy to facilitate, make more accessible and intensify faster, more comprehensive cooperation in dealing with existing initiatives, institutions and individual creative activities. This should be carried out in areas of information (data pools), communication (discussions and conferences), and production (interactive artistic and scientific collaboration. The goal is to have all of the nations bordering the Baltic Sea (including Iceland) work on the project together, that is, pool their resources, existing activities, ideas, concepts and wishes, and especially their particular technical know-how in order to make BIN an evolving network of communication, supported by all nations and for the use of all nations." (Prof. Dr. Klaus Peter Dencker, Culture Ministry of Hamburg).





Among the significant centers where Internet art is being produced and published in is
C3, Center for Culture and Communication was established in 1996 in Budapest, Hungary. C3 publishes on its web site a significant collection of web projects. The Center's activities include events, workshops, grants and residencies for local and international artists, as well as joint projects with partner institutions in Europe and North America. C3's Director art historian Miklós Peternák is also one of the founding members of Media Research Foundation which focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of new technology, and its cultural dimensions. The Media Research Foundation has been active in three different areas, including participation in Art exhibitions and the establishment of the Intermedia Department of the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, and works in collaboration with it. In addition to these activities, the Media Research Foundation has continuously organized, meetings, symposiums and events in an effort to educate the public about the impact of new technology on culture and society. A significant events is the MetaForum series (1994 to 1996) coordinated by Geert Lovink, Diana McCarty, and Janos Sugar. It is dedicated to the exploration of multimedia art and its discourse with emphasis on Internet art and CD-ROM production. (see Media Art: The Hungarian Model by Nina Czegledy)

One of the distinguished Central European independent media arts centers is WRO Center for Media Art Foundation in Wroclaw, POLAND which is dedicated to introducing and promoting contemporary art. With Artistic Director Piotr Krajewski, WRO establishes a platform for creation in new technologies through training, information networks, events such as WRO@kultura, a media art biennial (see events), symposia and exhibitions. Since 1996 the Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw provides an Internet experience for artists from different disciplines through experimental workshops and publishes the projects produced during these labs on its web site.

C.U.K.T. (The Central Office of Technical Culture) in Poland is an organization established in 1995 and run by Jacek Niegoda and Peter Style. Most of the C.U.K.T.'s projects are Internet related. In a recent interview by Joasia Krysa for Artmargins, the artists state: "We act as volunteer officials on a meta-national level, outside the oppressive political structure of centrally issued directives and long-term planning; free from political submissiveness and social responsibility. At the same time, we have practical ideas on how the country should function in terms of education (example: Art Day Action), unemployment (Action for the City of Bytow), political power (Wictoria C.U.K.T. presidential campaign), and technology (Technopera)."

The Foundation & Center for Contemporary Art with its LABoratory for media arts was founded in 1992 as the former Soros Center for Contemporary Art and transformed into the F&CCA-Prague in 1998 after the Soros Foundation reduced the funding provided for the 20 Soros Centers in Central and Eastern Europe. Now independent, the F&CCA-Prague is working on building strong educational, residency and exhibition programs in contemporary art. The center initiated Café 9, a project which consists of linking seven of the nine European Cultural Capitals 2000 to the Internet.

The LABoratory for New Media Art, which F&CCA-Prague set up in 1998, provides Czech artists working on media and multidisciplinary projects with free access to technologies and technical assistance. Several projects have already emerged from the production carried out in the LAB. The center is developing many international partnerships in order to inscribe itself into the new media art community.

The Center for Metamedia in Plasy is an international residency and project center where contemporary artists both in traditional and new media can work in collaboration. The Center for Metamedia in Plasy and the Center for Contemporary Art in Prague organize the international symposium Pantograph (see events). The Academy of Fine Arts in Prague has established The School of New Media which is very active in media art theory and in production of new media projects including net art. The Web related activities in the school are coordinated by Michaela Vlkova, curator, critic and net artist. Created in 1993, CESTA (Cultural Exchange Station in Tábor) is an international non-profit center which organizes international arts festivals, community projects, group exchanges, residencies, and the development of an informational global network for artists in all fields of artistic production.

During the 1990, in Slovakia, the electronic arts have gradually become part of the art practice and have been integrated into the university curriculum of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and the Faculty of Film and Television, among others. Martin Sperka, Professor at the Department of Information Science and Computer Technology at the Slovak University of Technology and at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, is organizer of media art workshops and events, and curator of the international exhibition E-MAIL ART which took place in Bratislava (at the CyberCafe Club, Internet- Multimedia at the Slovak National Museum) and in Wroclaw (Poland) in 1994, 1995 ad 1996. In addition, Sperka is one of the initiators of an exchange and communication project between artists, philosophers, writers and filmmakers, "On Line On Site Travelling the Highway and the Electronic Highway". CECM, Center of Electroacustic and Computer Music in Bratislava, coordinates an annual festival called BEECAMP (Bratislava European Electronic Computer and Multimedia Project). In a V2_Syndicate report, Martin Sperka points out that in addition to the recently established Andy Warhol Museum in the town of Medzilaborce, where his parents came from, there are plans to establish a Museum of Computers in Bratislava as part of the Slovak National Museum and a Museum of Technology in Kosice with a comouters and media art department.

Another major multimedia art center which stands out is located in Ljubljana, SLOVENIA. Ljudmila, is an open-access media laboratory. Ljudmila offers training and carries research. It concentrates on production and presentation of the electronic arts including the Internet, as well as video, digital and analog radio. An integral part of its activities is an open competition for project funding and a guest residency program presenting international and local artists projects in new media. The server hosts many projects and other art related web sites and involves distinguished web artists such as Vuk Cosic. (see article on Slovenia and the art of Vuk Cosic in the Montreal Internet magazine Archée)

Ljudmila works in collaboration with other independent media arts institutions and organizes symposia and events such ashEXPO, The International Festival of Self Organizing Cultural Forms in partnership with Kibla Multimedia Center in Maribor; the third participant is the city of Koper (see events).

Presented at Documenta X in 1997, Makrolab is a complex, experimental project, developed at Ljudmila and initiated by artist Marko Peljhan. The team involved in the project uses different artistic and technical means. With the Internet as one of its major platforms, Makrolab consists of a research and telecommunications station designed as an autonomous communications and living environment. (Interview - Communications equipment check with Marko Peljhan and Brian Springer, Lutterberg, July 20, 1997 By Geert Lovink)

Working in Ljubljana, Marina Grzinic and Aina Smid, the media artists who created The Axis of Life in the mid 90's, have produced in 1999 a site called Net.Art.Archive , containing many critical texts on the post-socialist condition, the politics of the net, and the communication of art.

In Slovenia are working distinguished independent net artists Igor Stromajer, Teo Spiller and Jaka Zelznikar.

. Although working independently, Igor Stromajer is one of the artists most active on the net. (see web projects and conversation with Igor Stromajer and Olia Lialina) Teo Spiller (see web projects and Interview in Mobile Gaze) is the initiator of the INFOS 2000. (see events)




In the context of the political situation in the Balkans during the past ten years, the Internet played an important role as a communication tool, especially in Yugoslavia, where independent media, such as Radio Free B92, Free Serbia and Otpor provided a platform for free flow of information. Under the Milosevic regime, the Internet was often the only source of adequate information and an outlet in the overall state of isolation. It is not that long ago when we saw the impact of the independent media and the power of the Internet become threatening to the Milosevic government to the point that many sites were banned.

In the field of contemporary art, the Open Society established centers in present Yugoslavia, as well as in the former Republics of Yugoslavia. In Belgrade, the Center for Contemporary Art opened in 1994 and existed within the Soros Fund until 1999, when it became part of the International Contemporary Art Network (ICAN). Similar to the CCA's in the rest of the former Eastern Block countries, the scope of the activities organized by CCA-Belgrade includes exhibitions of local and international artists, symposia, lecture series, publishing, research and documentation, as well as education in contemporary art practices. The CCA-Belgrade Media Program initiates projects in the field of video and digital art, as well as media research, theory and criticism. The Media Program supports production, presentation and distribution of Yugoslav and international media art. The Design and Multimedia Studio du CCAB offers artists the opportunity to produce work in print, web and multimedia.

Cinema REX , part of the Radio B92 OpenNet (Internet Department) , is a cultural center in Belgrade functioning since 1994 as an independent, non-profit organization promoting urban culture, contemporary art and civic initiatives. Actively involved in current social and political developments, in 1999, Free B92 was taken over by a management serving the Milosevic government. At the present time, Cinema REX operates as a research lab for new areas of artistic and cultural expression. It provides conditions for the realization and the presentation of artistic production in theater, fine arts, music, film, video and new media. Cinema REX has been intensively engaged in various networking activities in the region of Serbia, the former republics of Yugoslavia, as well as internationally. Cinema Rex initiated CybeREX, an open media lab for Internet, video and multimedia arts production, research and education.

On the independent scene in Yugoslavia, we can also find the art collective APSOLUTNO (Absolutely) which was founded in 1993 in Novi Sad. APSOLUTNO conducts intermedia research, which incorporates cultural, social and political aspects, and often implements projects in public spaces. The production of APSOLUTNO includes video, web projects, printed materials, installations, site specific work, CD ROM. (see Web Projects)

An important institution supporting Croatian media arts, including net art, is the Lamparna Multimedia Cultural Center in Labin, CROATIA. The media lab at the center focuses on production and presentation web projects. The LABinary organizes a media theory week.. (see events) A cyber club for women, called CyberKitchen has been established where the CyberKitchen Internet workshops are being held. Initiated by Zana Poliakoff, digital artist from Belgrade, the first CyberKitchen CyberFem workshop was organized by the Multimedia Institute Zagreb and the Lamparna Multimedia Center, Labin. Women from Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia and Bosnia participated. CyberKitchen2000 consists of three Cyberkitchen workshops: CyberArt, CyberPolitics and CyberEconomics. The project includes an international conference "Media as a Political Statement."

In Zagreb a new multimedia and net culture club, called MAMA, opened in May 2000. Mama organizes a exhibition and a competition. From June 16 to July 10 2000 MAMA hosted a series of presentations, lectures and workshops, entitled Social Amnesia, which was part of the international event "What, How and for Whom." This event was organized on the occasion of the 152nd anniversary of the Communist Manifesto. (see events)

The Soros Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA) in Sarajevo, BOSNIA/HERZEGOVINA is one of the youngest one in the Soros Network for contemporary art. Formed in 1996, SCCA-Sarajevo supports exhibitions and education in various art disciplines, including digital arts training in the newly established multimedia laboratory which is the first one of its kind in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Placed at the Academy of Fine Arts provides students with the opportunity to produce media art projects. will develop its own production such as web projects and CD Roms. The lab will also organize lecture series in new media theory.

The Soros Center of Contemporary Art Skopje, FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA, supports a (Center for Computer Arts ou CefCA) and an Internet magazine for contemporary art and culture, called ZAYAK (its web-site hosting the Balkan Art Network). SCCA-Skopje organizes SEAFair (Skopje Electronic Arts Fair) since 1997. (See events) CefCA is equipped for video, CD ROM and Internet production and hosts some of the first Macedonian net projects: 'Laika - the True Story' , which in 1996 participated in the international project Refresh,'Welcome Back to the Empire' and "Seeing the Sound" curated by Melentie Pandilovski, Director of the SCCA-Skopje. CefCa offers education in new technologies and organizes Internet conferences, as well as the CUSeeMe international conference series focusing on the artistic, cultural and social aspects of the electronic arts.

In BULGARIA, many media artists' work is made possible with the support of Soros center for the Arts - Sofia, with Artistic Director curator and art historian Kamen Balkanski. The Institute of Contemporary Art, run by media artist Luchezar Boyadjiev and curator Iara Boubnova, constitutes a platform for research, exhibitions and exchange with international institutions. For the youngest generation in Bulgaria the Student Computer Art Society ou SCAS (SCAS) offers opportunities to become acquainted with new technologies art production. The SCAS is a national student non-profit, non-governmental association which branches out to nine universities in seven towns in Bulgaria. In addition, the SCAS organizes local and international events and supports youth projects related to new technologies: information processing and computer arts. In the year 2000 SCAS organized a symposium called "Virtual Identity" and a seminar "Mobile communications in Internet", as well as COMPUTER SPACE, an international computer art forum including exhibitions, seminars, conferences, concerts and shows in the sphere of computer graphics, animation, computer and electronic music, interactive arts, web art. (see events) Jointly with Soros Center for the Arts-Sofia, SCAS initiated The Computer Art Center, a platform for the development (training, production, presentation) of student projects and artworks in the field of digital arts.

The Art Today Foundation in Plovdiv, organizer of the international event Communication Frontsince 1999 (See events) was founded in 1997 by a group of artists whose aim was to establish an independent center for contemporary art: the Center for Contemporary Art, located at the Old Turkish Bath in Plovdiv. At the core of the Art Foundation are the ideas of communication, culture, contemporary art practices, and creative exchange. In view of the development of new technologies in the arts, the Foundation has also established a multimedia laboratory.

A group of independent Bulgarian artists built InterSpacein Sofia, a New Media Art Center which concentrates on creation and presentation of video art, multimedia installations, net art and electronic sound. InterSpace works actively on integrating the community of Bulgarian media artists locally and internationally. It provides training and organizes forums, exhibitions, conferences, seminars, workshops, multimedia shows. Working independently is media artist and net activist Ventsislav Zankov, who is the founder and editor of the contemporary art and culture e-zine Zet_Mag . There is one most recent zine for contemporary art, Coup D'Eta(R)t, magazine for new visual practices, which opened a forum section. Its initiator and editor is curator and art historian Svilen Stafanov.

Kinema Ikon in Arad, ROMANIA, was founded in 1970 as an experimental film workshop. From 1994 the group's works were made on CD-ROM and on the net. From the same year they published intermedia magazine [in off set, CD-ROM and on the net]. Calin Man is the chief editor and designer of intermedia. The leader and founder of kinema ikon is George Sabau. Kinema Ikon is a place for production and presentation of electronic artworks on CD-ROM and exhibiting them locally and internationally Imagologie (e-mail, text), 1997 LEAF; CD-ROM Opera Prima, presented at EMAF (Osnabrück, Germany), CD-ROM Commedia del Multimedia, presented at OSTranenie (Bauhaus Dessau Berlin, Germany), at 1998 ISEA Revolution (Liverpool), as well as at VIPER (Lucerne). The group also publishes an annual magazine, called INTERMEDIA, since 1993, in which the members of the group share ideas about contemporary artistic practice in the sphere of experimental digital art.

In ALBANIA, one of the most isolated ex-communist countries, the media art scene is building most intensely since the mid 90'. The OSF exist in Albania, although a Contemporary Art Center has not been created yet. One can find the first Cyber Cafe in Albania and a new Internet workshops and lectures program @net. We can have fresh news about media art in Albania from the V2_East/Syndicate network. It was the "Syndicalists" and the Albanian artist Edi Muka, Professor in the Art Academy in Tirana who organized the Tirana "Pyramedia" meeting in 1998 with support from the Ministry of Culture, the Soros Foundation, the National Gallery, the Art Academy, and the Open Internet Center, and with help from Edi Muka's students at the Academy. This is how Geert Lovink describes his first impressions: "What we can see is tragic, ultra-modern history in the making, monitored by brand new Euro-cops of the West European Union, half-hearted Italian neo-colonialism to prevent mass escape from the ruined country and plenty of wild electronic media, pirated software, even a tiny bit of Internet, provided by the UN and Soros, via satellites and radio links... "Pyramedia" is an invitation to adventure, first physically by going to Tirana (yet undiscovered), and secondly to discover the new transformations of media art practice in the new cultural environments of East and West with their new problematic and their new challenges." Lovink interviewed Edi Muka on two occasions: the V2-DEAF festival, September 1996 in Rotterdam and after the fall of Berisha, in July 1997 during "Deep Europe" (Hybrid Workspace, Documenta X).

In his report after visiting Albania, Andreas Broeckman writes: "At the Pyramedia presentations there was an average of 10 to 20 people listening to the talks, asking questions in private conversations afterwards, and looking through the piles of printed material that the Pyramedia participants had brought from different European centers and that remained in Tirana as study material. Interviews were arranged, texts and addresses were exchanged, friendships forged, and I have no doubt that we will soon hear a lot more from the emerging media cultural scene in Tirana." In Novemeber 2000, the Syndicate received the bad news that Edi Muka was going to be fired from his job and removed from the Pyramedia project by Albanian officials. Taking action immediately, V2_Syndicate members initiated a petition against this on the V2_Syndicate mailinglist.



One of the most intriguing artists on the net is independent Moscow artist
Olia Lialina, currently Professor of Network Environments at the Merz Academy in Stuttgart. Ironically objectifying net artworks in her teleportacia gallery, Lialina emphasizes the notion of net art as a process and provokes a dialogue about its value. With the help of Lialina's gallery, where there are no borders between countries, one can travel by the means of "teleportation" from one place to another without a visa.

Alexei Shulgin's net works art/net discourse focuses on the definition of net art as a form of expression. In 1995-1997 he founds the Moscow World Wide Web Art Centre hosting web projects by Russian and international artist. He gives it a mobile physiognomy and multiple identity by inviting fellow net artists to design a series of opening pages with the motto: communication, expression, information.

As Katherine Liberovskaya points out (see Perspective) net art is mostly a concern in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Media Art Lab in Moscow was founded by the SCCA-Moscou in 1993-1994. production, presentation and theoretical discourse is one of the central interests of the Media Lab which reunites a community of net workers, artists, critics such as Tatyana Mogilevskaya, Olga Shishko, Vladimir Mogilevsky, Alexey Isaev and Tatiana Gorioutcheva among others. The Lab organizes seminars, lectures, workshops, exhibitions and annual festivals such as Da-da-net and Trash Art (See events)

At PRO ARTE in St. Petersburg , which is an organization supporting contemporary art and culture through education, information, grants and events, the Multimedia Lab offers facilities for production of new media art. In addition, PRO ARTE runs the New Technologies in Contemporary Art Programme which is intended as a source of support for technical skills and theoretical knowledge in contemporary art practices using new technologies. The program stimulates education, creation and experimentation: production, publishing and a collection of the projects elaborated during workshops and seminars. It has been put together in cooperation with the Center for Art and the New Technologies (ZKM - Karlsruhe, Germany), the University of Lapland (Finland) and the Finnish "FRAME" Foundation (Foundation for the Support of Exchanges in the Arts), as well as with the support of the Goethe Institute and the Finnish Institute.

The Techno Art Center in St. Petersburg was founded in 1994. TAC unites artists and art critics working in the field of media art projects (net art and CD ROM). It organizes a New Media Workshop and supports a Cyber-Femin-Club , an organization for women involved in new media theory and practice.

In the framework of The New House of Culture in Novosibirsk, Siberia (Russia) has been established the Yury Kondratyuk's Foundation run by Konstantin Sotnikov. Among other international projects and activities, in September 2000 was held the first edition of the international Festival of Extra Short Film curated by Sotnikov in collaboration with Dimitry Bulnyugin and Slava Mizin. Part of the festival is a presentation of web projects. Siberia attracted curator, writer and networker Kathy Rae Huffman, who, in team with Eva Wohlgemuth, initiated the Siberian Deal, an Internet and Location Sculpture project. The organizers describe the project in the following manner: "Siberia is a mythical zero-point, an obscure land, where few people have traveled. It is the traditional land of banishment and exile, it symbolizes being lost, entirely. Westerners have but a few pictures - they just know that it is cold there! Equivalently, the Internet is assumed to be a vast and dangerous realm, threatening with its technical coldness, and where - either a daydream or a nightmare - it is complicated to navigate. By overlapping Siberia with "Cyberia" the project joins the real and virtual, and endeavours to expand traditional communication links between people, into network strategies."

The CCA-Kyiv , with Director Jerzy "Yuri" Onuch, has an Information and New Media Program which provides training workshops and presentations, focusing on the involvement of new technologies in the creative process. The CCA-Kyiv Internet & Media Lab offers production facilities for projects in the field of new media and the Internet as an innovative tool in contemporary culture and communication. An Info-Media-Bank Program documenting events is being set up, as well as a Library and an Internet center. In 1998, Marta van der Haagen the Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland initiated a web art workshop at the CCA-Kyiv Media Lab: International Workshop New Territory of Expression in creative process. the tutoring team was made up of Wojciech Bogusz - Programmer and Webmaster Henryk Gajewski - Internet artist & Film-maker from Poland, as well as guest lecturer Marek Tuszynski - Internet Program Coordinator at The Stefan Batory Foundation in Poland. The results of the workshop were published on the CCA-Kyiv Website. The Info Media Bank Program presented the exhibition ALTER NATURA within the Kyiv International Media Arts Festival (October 14 to October 25, 2000) curated by Natalia Manzhali, Katya Stukalova.

In the Baltic region, the E-Media Center in Tallinn, ESTONIA established in 1993-1994 by prof. Ando Keskküla at the Estonian Academy of Arts is active in new media art and in the area of Internet. Involved in the Head of the E-Media Center is artist Mare Tralla, who currently lives and works in London and Tallinn. The E-media Center is a structure for exploration and study in the practice and theory of electronic arts. The activities at the center include production, events, information and lecture series initiated by Raivo Kelomees in 1994; his present courses are focused on media art history. The E-Media site publishes net projects and contains a broad scope of information on media art and the Internet in particular.

In 1995 in collaboration with the SCA-Estonia, the E-Media Center organized the international interdisciplinary conference on computer mediated communication and interactivity: Interstanding - Understanding Interactivity. In 1997, Interstanding 2 was curated by Ando Keskküla. Among the invited countries were the Ukraine, Croatia, Slovakia, Russia and other countries of the Central and Eastern European region. Part of this international events was a one day conference, called 'freedom', which addressed "the discourses of freedom in the information society in relation to the new social, economic and political constellations of Central and Eastern Europe, and the actual forms of media-practice which have emerged both in the former 'East' and 'West'." In 1998 E-Lab organized the annual international "offline@online" French-Baltic-Nordic Video and New Media. Artist and theoretician Raivo Kelomees, who runs the media art organization Mediaswamp, is the initiator of the festival offline@online. (See events)

The Re-LAB in Riga, LATVIA is built on the principle of new media art production, information, communication. Lectures and seminars are also held there. The emphasis is on exploring freedom of expression and broadcasting via the Internet. Re-Lab maintains the X C H A N G E network experimenting with the acoustic potential of cyberspace and creative Internet broadcasting. The Xchange mailing list and network for alternative Internet broadcasters is on-line since 1997. In 1998 the Xchange project received Award of Distinction in net.category in the competition PRIX Ars Electronica'98. Xchange, the network, emerged from "Xchange on-air session", the second new media festival in Riga "Art + Communication II." In addition, the XCHANGE OPEN CHANNEL is a space for co-broadcasting experiments and live co-sessions. The Riga Center for New Media Culture, RIXC which revolves around new media issues was founded as recently as 2000. Part of the activities are projects, cultural policy, education, and networking. RIXC is coordinated by Ieva Auzina. The center organizes new media exhibitions and events such as Art + Communication (see Events). An important part of RIXC is the Media Lounge, a place for research, and the Media Lab, equipped for media art production.

O-O / MEDIA INSTITUTE ,was founded in 1998, in Vilnius, Lithuania. It is currently run by Kestutius Andrasiunas. The Internet and the examination of the ensuing new forms of art and communication are at the core of this mediating institution. Some of the on-going projects at the O-O Media Institute are lectures, festivals, as well as an Internet radio, an electronic journal, a mailing list, a database, a search engine, a database and a chat room. Point three (iii) of the Media Manifesto states: "Art always oscillates between real and virtual world, affects reality and is affected by it, It is discovered and broadcast, mobile and multiplying."



One of the first meeting points for media art workers was
Ostranenie: The International Electronic Media Forum in Dessau, Germany, held in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999. Ostranenie was a groundbreaking, international event with historical significance dealing with issues of the development of media art in Central and Eastern European countries. It made possible the opening of the East/West cultural dialogue and trace directions for the building of a new relationship. Media artists gathered to discuss the transformation processes in the new art and society topic of overcoming the borders and opening the world. Ostrananie was initiated by Stephen Kovats, a Canadian architect who came to the Bauhaus to conduct research and a workshop. The event¹s first advisors included Keiko Sei (Prague), Marina Grzinic (Ljubljana), and Alexander Kuprin (Moscow). Co-director of the first event was Inke Arns. In 1999, Ostranenie transformed into a CD-ROM and publication, reflecting on the process of the opening of the former Eastern Block. In order to preserve the continuity of Ostranenie Kovats is planning to organize an international on-line conference including participants from Central and Eastern Europe.

CYNETart, festival for computer aided art and interdisciplinary media projects, is a major international event in Dresden (Germany) which includes in its program an exhibition, a symposium, a competition with several prizes, and workshops. CYNETart started in 1997 as COMTEC and is held annually. About 300 artists from 30 countries participated in the CYNETart 2000 which emphasized current trends in computer-assisted dance and audio-visual performance. The coordinator of the event Klaus Nicolai points out: "CYNETart 2000 presents international tendencies in media art and research... Supported by many sponsors and co-operative partners, CYNETart 2000 ­ formerly COMTECart ­ will extend its international position in the discourse on the medialisation of art and of perception. The interdisciplinary workshop- and co-operation projects that came into being on the occasion of CYNETart promote Dresden as a location for media-culture."

WRO 2000@kultura, the WRO Media Art Biennale in Wroclaw, Poland, organized by WRO Center for Media Art Foundation was held from November 29 to December 3, 2000. It started in 1997. The 2000 edition of the biennial focused on issues of accessibility, the mediation of technology and artistic experience. The biennial's congress consists of three main events: an exhibition of interactive new media artworks, curated by Axel Wirths of 235 Media (Cologne, Germany); East of Cyberspace, the second event in the congress, is a series of presentations that examine in Eastern and Central Europe; Spaces and Places, is a show in which participated major media art centres from around the world.

Digital ZOOO is the first edition of a new-media festival held in Prague from 14 to 16 December 2000 and organized by the No D Media Lab. DIGITAL ZOOO is a three day festival of digital culture including a festival by young artists from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and International. It consists of a competition, screenings, workshops and presentations, as well as a 'New Media in the Netherlands' presentation and seminar by Eric Kluitenberg - De Balie , Cathy Brickwood - Virtual Platform , Gerbrand Oudenaarden - Engage Media Lab and Jaap Vermaas'ASCII Internet Workplace. hEXPO International Self Organizing Forms is held simultaneously in three Slovenian cities (Kibla Multimedia Center in Maribor Ljubljana et Koper), Ljubljana and Koper). hEXPO promotes education, exchange, independent production, communication and networking. hEXPO 2000 included various media art projects, performances and installations. The activities during the event were broadcasted live on the radio and via the Web from the participating cities.

An international (off-line contest INFOS was held in Ljubljana Slovenia. The project is initiated by Slovenian net.artist Teo Spiller and is becoming an annual event. INFOS 2000 was curated by Teo Spiller and Timothy Murray, media theorist and curator from the US. Part of the festival was an international web forum, "Digital Art, from CD-ROM to the Internet and beyond." At the end of the event, the participating projects are published on CD-ROM.

International Festival of New Film in Split, Croatia presents contemporary experimental works in film, video and new media, including, CD-ROM, performances and installations. Held every autumn in Split, the festival creates links between the use of traditional techniques and the integration of latest technological developments in art. It stimulates exploration of new and daring ways of artistic expression.

SEAFair (Skopje Electronic Arts Fair), organized since 1997 by the Contemporary Art Center-Skopje, is the first manifestation of this kind on the Balkans, gathering local and international artists working on the web and in the field of multimedia artists, as well as media critics and theorists. With an intercultural focus, SEAFair includes exhibitions and conferences exploring the electronic arts. The 1997 Altering Visions on the Net, examined the dimensions of web art: existing ways of artistic expression and new perspectives. SEAFair 1998 presented Communing: V.R. - WWW - Net-Linked - CD ROM exhibition at the Skopje Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje; the exhibition explored the visions (Imagining, Meditation, Dreaming, Reflection and Visualization) evoked by the creative process. This is the year when the Syndicate meeting, Junction, took place addressing current issue of the network and further possibilities of communication and cooperation in the process of cultural East/West exchange for artists, theorists and activists working with new technologies. Curated by Kathy Rae Huffman and Melentie Pandilovski, SEAFair99 presented the exhibition SEAFair99; a conference was held, as well as a VR &VRML workshop: Hands-on VR & VRML; support for the event provided the Soros Foundation, the Museum of the City of Skopje and the Skopje Museum of Contemporary Art in collaboration with Van Gogh Television. S E A F a i r 2000 web page was curated by Mike Stubbs and Melentie Pandilovski focused on Art and Immersive technologies; it was organized in cooperation with Ne=MC New Media Center in Skopje. The main theme of SEAFair 2001 is "art and bio-technology."

Computer Space is an international computer art forum held in Sofia, Bulgaria and organized by the Student Computer Art Society. Computer Space 2000 was the XIIth edition of this event which took place in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia; it included exhibitions, conferences, concerts and shows in the field of computer arts. Computer Space organizes a web contest (for both web design and web art) in cooperation with the Internet Society Bulgaria, and ABC Design & Communication. There is an on-line registration for that category

Initiated in early 1998, the project Virtual Revolutions or VR served to unite media artists, curators and theorists with the aim to focus on cultural collaboration between media professionals from the "former East/West divide." VR is curated by Iliyana Nedkova, former visual arts coordinator at SCAS-Sofia, as well as organizer of LEAF 1997 and one of the organizers of 1998 ISEA: The Revolution; in 1996 Iliyana Nedkova and Nina Czegledy initiated a nomadic, cross-cultural international festival of video shorts "Crossing Over" which is held annually in different parts of the world. VR is coordinated by Tapio Makela, Javor Raitchev, Andreas Broeckmann and Micz Flor. With over seventy members from around the world, VR is derived from two parallel realities: the postcommunist and the technological 'revolutions.' The two principal activities were media art workshops: in 1998 Virtual Revolutions 1 workshops were held during the festival Computer Space X in Sofia and in 1999 the V2_Organisation / V2_Lab in Rotterdam became the host for Virtual Revolutions 2 with the main theme 'Identities in virtual environments.' VR was put together in association with FACT -the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool (UK), Polar Circuit Association, Tornio (Finland), Soros Center for the Arts, Sofia (Bulgaria), V2_Organisation, Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Salford University, Manchester (UK). VR includes a Publication Series comprising a CD ROM, Internet based works and a printed publication of critical writings.

Net art is the subject of the Da-da-net and Trash Art international festivals in Moscow Da-da-net (only in Russian) English version ) and Trash Art The festivals include exhibitions, discussions and prizes. The festivals' sites present a large selection of net.artworks produced by artists from Russia and abroad. (see Perspective article by Katherine Liberovskaya)

The international offline@online Media Art Festival in Parnu, Estonia is coordinated by media art historian and artist Raivo Kelomees. It started in 1998 with the tittle offline@online French-Baltic-Nordic Video and New Media Festival; the second edition in 1999 was called "Media Non Grata In its third edition, called dig_in_time, the offline@online festival brought forth the theme of intimacy in new technologies. The activities and discussions revolved around the issue of internalizing technologies and exploring the means of utilizing and experiencing them in personal ways. The event was held at the Pärnu New Art Museum. The projects presented at the festival are exhibited and archived at the festival site.

Art + Communication is an international new media festival in Riga, Latvia. In 1996 Art + Communication 1 examined the transformation of Latvian culture in its first steps into information society. In 1997, with the tittle Xchange On-Air Session, Art + Communication 2 was centered on streaming audio technologies and all festival events were broadcasted on-line. The 1998 edition of the festival, called Xchange Unlimited, was held in conjunction with The Baltic Interface Net meeting. In addition to a series of workshops, Art + Communication 3 included a conference during which the concept for the Interfund, virtual foundation supporting media artists, was elaborated . At Art + Communication 4 in August 2000 were held the XCHANGE Network and NICE (Network Interface for Cultural Exchange) meetings working on the cultural development of the Baltic Sea and the North/East European region. XCHANGE, the, gathered media artists and net activists from various countries and cultures for Intercultural Jamming inviting them to work together in the context of and web-tv. Co-organiszer of the event was the recently established Centre for New Media Culture RIXC, which unites Riga's active media organizations.



The Syndicate Meetings (see V2_Syndicate in Networks and Pyramedia in Tirana, Albania in Centers)

Beauty and the East, a conference on media art in the European East/West was held in 1997 in Ljudmila, Ljubljana. The main focus of the conference was the topic of The texts presented at "Beauty and the East" by the many media art practitioners and theorists who attended it are published in full at its web site. (see also An Insider's Report from the Nettime Squad Meeting in Ljubljana, 22 & 23 June 1997 by Marina Grzinic, Ljubljana,Telepolis)

In collaboration with Geert Lovink and Diana McCarty, the Hungarian artist János Sugár (founding member of the Media Research Foundation and a lecturer at the Intermedia Department of the Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary) organized the MetaForum Conference Series in 1994, 1995, and 1996. (see article by Nina Czegledy)

Pantograph, an instrument of mediation, is an international experimental workshop - symposium initiated by the Center for Metamedia - Plasy and the CCA-Prague held in 1999. It provided a forum for discussion addressing the contemporary conditions of culture, society and politics in the former Eastern Block. Among the important issues discussed were the process of democratization and the public access to communication networks, as well as the rethinking of social structures by means of cultural strategies. With a large number of participants, inter-regional projects were initiated.

A media art theory week, TransArt, took place in September 2000 in Labin, Croatia. It was organized by LABinary. (see CENTERS) The main goal was to educate the young generation of media art professionals of the origins of media art and inform them about its current issues. Students, young media artists, curators and critics from the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia gathered to attend lectures by Keiko Sei, Malcolm Le Grice and Olia Lialina. The invited speakers were Chris Hill, Ivan Ladislav Galeta and Florian Schneider.

From June 16 to July 10 2000 MAMA, the new net.culture club in Croatia hosted a series of presentations, lectures and workshops, entitled Social Amnesia, which was part of the international event What, How and for Whom, organized on the occasion of the 152nd anniversary of the Communist Manifesto. With the aim to investigate the origins of the communist concept and come to terms with its consequences in the event participated curators, artists, and theoreticians from Albania, Slovenia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as from Germany, Great Britain and United States. Evaluating the past and looking at the present and the future, some of the interesting questions raised were the artistic manifestos, the political and social applications of media art.. The idea for this project emerged in 1998 when independent alternative publishing house Arkzin published the 150th anniversary edition of the Marx's Communist Manifesto with an introduction by Slavoj Zizek (The Spectre is Still Roaming Around) The project was put together by an independent curatorial team (Ana Devic, Natasa Ilic, Sabina Sabolovic) in collaboration with Arkzin and the Croatian Association of Artists.

Organized by the Art Today Foundation in Plovdiv (Bulgaria), Communication Front / electronic and media art is an international conference which took place for the second time in 2000 at the Center for Contemporary Art in the Ancient Bath in Plovdiv. Organized n partnership with several European organizations, such as FACT (UK), IDEA (UK), Fournos (Greece), and various other centres for contemporary art in Eastern Europe, the main theme of CFront 2000 was Crossing Points: East-West. Curated by Dimitrina Sevova and Emil Miraztchiev, it focused on issues of the New Media-Art Balkan Generation. Bringing together artists theorists and activists, CF2000 included a theoretical seminars, a workshop, centered around common web-based production and an exhibition section presenting interactive, video, net and sound installations.



Ostranenie 93, 95, 97 catalogues and CD-Rom

Media Revolution. Electronic Media in the Transformation Process of Eastern and Central Europe, edited by Stephen Kovats

Beauty and the East (netttime meeting)

V2_EAST Syndicate:
V2_East Reader. September 1996
Deep Europe. October 1997
Junction Skopje. October 1998
"NewMediaTopia/Logia" (Russian-English) Editor Irina Alpatova. The catalogue is the first professional english-russian edition to be published in Russia. This edition includes discussions on the history and development of new art technologies in Russia as well as cultural research by fifty Western and Russian critics, theoreticians and artists working in the field of media art.



ArtMargins Contemporary Central and Eastern European Visual Culture. (it has an 'e-view' section)
Transitions Online Internet magazine covering Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the former Soviet Union.



- Andreas Broeckman, review of "Media Revolution. Electronic Media in the Transformation Process of Eastern and Central Europe," Leonardo Digital Review
- Marina Griznic, Axis of Life // and Rhizome, 18 September 2000
- "Communications equipment check, Interview with Marko Peljhan and Brian Springer", Lutterberg, Nettime 20 July 1997 by Geert Lovink)
- Lev Manovich, Behind the Screen / Russian New Media, Ctheory, 18 septembre 1997,
- Alexander Boscovic, Virtual Places: Imagined Boundaries and Hyperreality in Southeastern Europe , Ctheory, 29 octobre 1997
- Janez Strehovec,"The Web as an Intrument of Power and a Realm of Freedom: A Report from Ljubljana, Slovenia", Ctheory, 26 June 1997
- "Art and Political Mythology of Virtuality (Romanian Style): Interview with Cãlin Man" par Geert Lovink, 13 July 2000, Nettime.
- John Horvath, "The Soros Effect on Central and Eastern Europe", The O-O Media Institute Internet Magazine, 6 October 1997.
- Pierre Robert, L'art contemporain (nouveau) dans les Balkans, Archée, Mai 1999


Rossitza Daskalova

Rossitza Daskalova is born in 1967 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Art critic and filmmaker, her articles have been published in Parachute, CMagazine, ETC Montréal and ESPACE. She has contributed to The CIAC's Electronic Art Magazine since its very beginning in 1997. During the past two year she has been producing and directing a cultural show, called Window to Bulgaria, which is aired on CJNT-TV, the multilingual station in Montreal. Currently involved in a MA Program in Film Studies, Daskalova has a Specialization in Communication Studies (concentration film production) and an Art History degree from Concordia University.


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