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<nettime> Media Art in Croatia @ culturenet.hr

Media Art in Croatia
written and edited by Darko Fritz


First survey and attempt at defining the term Media art in Croatia in its
historical context and setting up a relevant database. Media Art in
Croatia is part of the culturenet.hr web portal to Croatian art and

. A brief overview of media art in Croatia (since 1960s)
. Institutions, events, databases
. Publications [magazines, TV, books, mailing lists and on-line
texts; Bibliography of the Croatian video art]


Craotian cultural institutions & subjects / media art:

festivals and other regular events / media art:

info servis [recent events, updated daily, in Croatian only]
use pop-up menu 'po kategorijama' > novi mediji + press button 'listaj'


A brief overview of media art in Croatia (since 1960s)

Between 1961 and 1973, the Gallery of Contemporary Art (now the Museum of
Contemporary Art) organized five international exhibitions entitled New
Tendencies. The first New Tendencies exhibition was organized on the
initiative of the art historians Matko Mestrovic, Radoslav Putar, Bozo Bek
and Boris Kelemen, and the artists Ivan Picelj and Almir Mavignier. The
New Tendencies strived at a synthesis of different forms of the arts of
the 1960s and 1970s. In the beginning, the movement characterized broad
issues but later the exhibitions veered towards neo-constructivism,
lumino-kinetic objects (mostly mechanically made, often under group
authorship) and finally computer art and conceptual art. The first
exhibition (1961) - apart from the participants such as Almir Mavignier,
Zero Group (Oto Peine, Hienz Mack) and Azimuth Group (Enrico Castellani,
Piero Manzoni) - contained works that were bent mostly on a system
research (Francois Morellet, Karl Gerstner) and optical research of the
surface and the structure of objects (Marc Adrian, Julio Le Park, Gunther
Uecker, Gruppo N - Biasi, Massironi, Chiggio, Costa, Landi). The origins
of the preprogrammed and kinetic art whose characteristic language would
mark New Tendencies as a movement as early as their following exhibition
(1963) had also been noted. The demands for the scientification of art
favored experimenting with new technical media as a means of researching
the visual perception based on the Gestalt theory. The third exhibition of
New Tendencies (1965) probed the relationship between cybernetics and art
and a symposium on the same topic preceded the exhibition. Vjenceslav
Richter, Aleksandar Srnec and Ivan Picelj exhibited lumino-kinetic
objects. The fourth exhibition (1968/69) was dominated by the information
theory and encompassed an international conference entitled Kompjuteri i
vizualna istrazivanja. The same year, the Gallery of Contemporary Art
started the Bit international magazine. I have to mention the computer
light installation by Vladimir Bonacic DIN.21 as a paradigm for media art
coming from the sphere of science. The work was installed in 1968 on the
facade of the NAMA department store in Zagreb and was intended as a
permanent exhibit. In 1968, Vladimir Bonacic and Ivan Picelj realized T4,
an electronic (and computer programmed) object. Beside the computerized
visual research section, a conceptual art section was also included in
Tendencies 5 (1973). Vilko Ziljak exhibited ASCCI photographs, i.e.
digital printouts. Tomislav Mikulic, working for the television where he
made intentional computer animation and television graphics, created an
artistic computer movie 1973. In the early stages of the development of
media art since the 1960s, we note two, at the time irreconcilable
sources: modernist (supporting the idea of progress and science) and the
anarchistic-individual approach of conceptual art (building on the
achievements of the student movements from the 1960s). Conceptual art and
computer art were prominently marked on the Tendencies 5 exhibition
poster. Matko Mestrovic was the main theorist of New Tendencies as a
movement who tackled the problem of the relationship between art and
society demanding the socialization of arts, abolishing the unique
significance of a work of art and equaling art and science. See more on
Tendencies under Institutions, data bases, and the on-line catalogue of a
collection of works of early computer art by MSU exhibited as part of the
I am Still Alive project (2000).

Taking a point of view diametrally opposed to the scientification of art,
we can consider part of the conceptual art practice from the 1970s and 80s
as part of media art. Numerous works of the media-aware conceptual art
were made in the 1970s, such as a series of exhibitions with posters as
sole exhibits by Goran Trbuljak (1971-1981) and performances of listening
to the radio, watching TV, reading newspapers and talking on the phone by
Tomislav Gotovac (1980-1981). Free experiments with mixed media were part
and parcel of the poetry of the so-called Group of six authors who mixed
media such as photography, film, and photocopy in the form of visual art,
art books and (street) performance. The following input came to media art
from the film milieu. In addition to his primary interest in working with
experimental film, Ivan Ladislav Galeta created numerous photo and video
works, installations, and multimedia performances. Tomislav Gotovac made
gallery and out-of-gallery performances and photo collages inspired by
movies. Vladimir Petek set up in 1971 the FAVIT art association (film
-audiovisual research - television) and created a series of multimedia
works with a number of collaborators, mostly multivision (multi-channel
video, film and slide projections), and realized ten computer movies with
Tomislav Mikulic in 1976.

Video art is the only form of media art dating back to 1971 and having a
production that has reached critical mass. Sanja Ivekovic and Dalibor
Martinis, both pioneers of Croatian video art, create jointly and
individually a series of video works and installations and, as their
personal preference, represent a duality of interests of media art from
the position of conceptual artists. Martinis is preoccupied with media
itself and its physical and semiotic possibilities and creates a series of
video installations (video installations at table in The Supper at last,
1993, video installation in a form of a well filled with water Circles
Between Surfaces, 1996), interactive digital video installations (Coma,
1997) and hybrid works in electronic media (Observatorium 1/2/3
exhibitions, 1997-98). On the other hand, Sanja Ivekovic moderates social
(feminist) activity through art by setting up an association of women,
Electra. She performs numerous video works and installations (In the
Frozen Images video work, the image is projected on the ice and in the
Travel Until the End of Thought work from 1994 the computer directs the
video projection of body parts in stellar movement). She creates works in
other media, too. Project Gen XX is a series of works published in the
form of advertisements in print media in 1997 and 1998. The photographic
reproductions show portraits of female top models and the name underneath
(in the graphic form of logo) comes with a brief biography mentioned in
connection to a heroine assassinated for her political activities in the
anti-fascist struggle in WWII.

In the late 1980s, the Nova Evropa (NEP, founded by Dejan Krsic) group,
Studio imitacija zivota (SIZ; Darko Fritz and Zeljko Serdarevic), Grainer
and Kropilak and the Katedrala project displayed artistic activity carried
out under a collective authorship (in the Katedrala project a computer
programmer has been included as a full-fledged author). The
above-mentioned used the media as their basic material (reproductive,
electronic, digital and mass media) and inaugurated
sampling/cut-up/quotation/recycling as an expression without specific
stylistic characteristics, i.e. the rejection of the idea about the
original. The medium of photocopy in the pre-Photoshop aesthetics of the
1980s (in the wake of experiences of copy art of the 1970s) was the prime
graphic tool. In the case of SIZ and NEP more indicative were their media
projects than the produced objects. NEP inaugurated a new understanding of
equaling politics and art, not just by ³borrowing² from political rhetoric
but also by using it on an equal footing, in the spirit of post-modernist
theories. In 1988, SIZ thrice opened an exhibition (of graphics) using
three manners of opening: live broadcast over the radio, by a spoken word
of an art historian, and by textual print-outs of interviews. In 1990, SIZ
stopped working after having completed a three-year production and
distribution (corporative) plan. The Katedrala project (Bakal, Fritz,
Juzbasic, Marusic, Premec; 1988) took place on the anniversary of death of
Andy Warhol and called for a transformation of image to sound of a
Mussorgsky composition and the sound into a space performance of
Kandinsky. It was a space generated by a computer using joint sound,
light, and video elements set in motion through the movement of the
audience and the signals of an EEC connected to the performer, Joska
Lesaj, the opera signer.

A witty subversive action Zagreb Virus 1990, whose author was Svebor
Kranjc, took place at the 22nd Youth Salon exhibition (1990). Having sent
a great number of (quasi)artistic products of various styles and under
assumed names, the jury ³missed on² a certain number of works. At the
opening itself, the author personally distributed his catalogue in which
he explained how a ³virus that the body (jury) failed to recognize²
entered thereby demystifying a part of authorship of the exhibits and
leaving the other part undiscovered referencing the strategy of computer
viruses. Kranjc had earlier on carried out a series of TV viruses (1989)
where he had infiltrated the mainstream TV program by a system of
simulacra as an art terrorist. He was a representative of the Image
Liberation Organization. These strategies of simulation were
characteristic of the conceptual art of the 1980s and were later often
used in net art that could easily simulate a system of corporative

The interactive character in its primary form is present in every video
installation involving a closed circuit system and a live video link.
Similar works originated in the 1970s but enhanced the probing of the
medium in the 1990s. In the above-mentioned Katedrala project, three rooms
were connected by sound and video closed circuit. Simon Bogojevic Narath
in his untitled work (Landscapes, 1991) set up a video link by using a
small mirror that optically distorted the electronic image. Kristina Leko
created a series of video link works with religious content, using
wireless transmission across greater distances and employing to the
fullest this technology for conceptual games with dislocation (Flowers,
1997, Veduta, Kamenita vrata, 1998). At the 1998 Zagreb Salon, Sandro
Djukic set up a closed-circuit system with delay. Darko Fritz in his work
on the End of The Message project used security video systems as a
specific form of closed circuit (at the Obsessions exhibitions: From
Wunderkamer to Cyberspace, 1995, and at Privredna Bank, T.EST, 1997). In
collaboration with Ademir Arapovic, he has performed since 1998 a series
of work space=space in which, using closed circuit only, they have
extended architecture with the use of media. Andreja Kuluncic in her work
Man Constructor (1996) used motion detectors as well as slide and sound
detectors. In 1998, Sandra Sterle and Slobodan Jokic (Dan Oki) set up a
complex interactive video installation To Forget to Remember and to Know
on the subject of digitalized video image that changed according to the
sound quality of the spoken text. The installation was created in an
Amsterdam school for learning Dutch for Adults. Together they created an
interactive internet work called Interstory (2001) where the participant
was given the opportunity to work on partially pre-programmed film
scripts. Sandra Sterle created a series of works, Round Around (1998), in
the media of photography, linear video, and interactive CD-ROM. During a
project called Go Home that lasted several months (in collaboration with
Danica Dakic, 2001) she organized in New York a series of web cast dinners
with guests and an Internet diary.

Since 1997, Ivo Dekovic has been organizing summer workshops and directed
a sub-art gallery underwater at Razanj. A web site contains a continual
video signal showing the submerged gallery.

In the numerous one-channel video works by Narath, Vladislav Knezevic and
Igor Kuduz, a new reality in the specific phenomenon of the video medium
has been set up by a virtuoso use of digital effects in combination with
model making. The setting up of a parallel media reality is a topic of an
imaginary journey in a project that spanned several years called Putovanje
oko svijeta, which Sandro Djukic created in photo and video media. Ivan
Marusic Klif created a series of interactive mechanized automata with
picturesque figurative scenes in the ambiance of TV monitors that inverted
the expectations of the electronic image. Klif also created
computer-directed sound and space installations by specifically combining
high and low-tech (the exhibition in the tunnel in 1995), a complex
interactive manipulation of live video image (closed circuit), and by
himself programming software for his own needs (the exhibition at
Klovicevi dvori in 2000). Davor Antolic Antas created a series of works by
setting up a line of electronically programmed neon lights in the
architectural structures (Neon, 1998-2001). Magdalena Pederin performed
interactive light installations that reacted to ambient sound. One of
them, a composition of several meters made up of LED diodes, was also the
(inter)active stage production of the Oko cuje, uho vidi performance
(Marusic, Kuhta, Rascic, 1997-1999). The sensors on the body of the
performers set in motion sound, video and light interactions. The Lights
from Zagreb exhibition at the De Parel gallery in Amsterdam presented
light works by Marusic, Pederin and Antolic 2001.

Ivona Kocica and Kristina Babic have been working on the manipulation of
the electronically generated and digital photography since 1994. Darko
Fritz has explored different aspects of media art - as part of group
projects such as SIZ, Katedrala and Balkania and various network art
projects, as well as independently by staging fax actions (since 1991,
Hype), digital photography (since 1990, La Strategia del regno), the laser
installation Measure for Measure, 1992, the first attempt at webcast in
1994 (Keep the Frequency Clear) while one of the eight stages of the End
of the Message project that spanned several years (1995-2000) has been on
the internet since 1996. As part of the project, the End of Message
(Archives live!) sound and video work takes place simultaneously in a
gallery and over the radio (1996). Expert input was involved in the
Theater Time project (1995) through the participation of theorists and
critics in a TV program (that ran parallel to the event in the gallery and
the movie theater). Since 2001, p.sound (remix), an open sound network
piece has been taking place on the internet. A sound piece by Rino Efendic
with taped sex phone conversations from 1998 inspired his colleagues from
Split, the artist Petar Grimani and the curator and theorist Ana Peraica,
to include sound pieces at the 21st Springtime event in 1998. Twenty-four
authors created a series of sound performances and installations in a
public space entitled ArtAKUSTIKA and the Technology of Sounded Space web
project, presented at the Lada 98 exhibition (Rimini, 1998) that included
a live audio stream. Ivan Marusic Klif created a series of sound
performances in which he used various analogue and digital recordings and
sound processors, as well as text-to-speech programs (Planet majmuna,
1997, Komunisticki Manifesto, 2000). In the Speaker System project by
Kristina Leko, apart from various actions and public installations, a part
of the project was performed on radio air (the 3rd channel of HRT, 1994).
The Kad razmjena tezi maksimumu tad priljeze nuli work (1998) was
comprised of remixes of intimate nature from his answering machine. In
collaboration with Darko Fritz she created a piece called Kristina Leko,
Darko Fritz and Nina Simone, a documentary recording of the exchange of
the phone address books which was also an overview of their social and
professional network. As part of the Big Torino exhibition (1999), Tomo
Savic Gecan published an ad in the local newspapers with the date of the
opening and the phone number of the gallery. The visitors could take turns
answering the phone displayed in the gallery. Ivan Ladislav Galeta created
a series of sound projects (Speed Up, 1977, Forwards-Backwards: Voice,
1977, Forwards-Backwards: Guitar, 1977, Minutenwalzer, 1978, Piano, 1979,
Obrnuti Glas, 1985) 

Zvonimir Bakotin has created a series of web projects since the very
beginning of the web. Examples of pioneering net.art work are
Transnavigation and Fresh - shaped for the participation in the Refresh
project, 1996, one of the first network art works on the internet. In 1996
he was awarded the first price for an experimental model of a 3D interface
for the de DAM (De Digitale Stad Amsterdam). In 1997, he created a 3D
project for the De Waag Society of the New and Old Media in Amsterdam.
Between 1996 and 1998, he created a 3D model of the Diocletian Palace that
underwent an extensive testing on the Digitale Stata network. The
Diocletian Palace is still a work in progress and the project will be put
on the internet in due time. Merzbau 3D is a joint project with the Van
Gogh television (VGTV) for the Sprengel Museum Hannover from 1999, a 3D
interactive (VRML) model. A member of the VRML-ART board, Helena Bulaja
called the visual artist, Petar Grimani to join in an internet project
descriptively entitled Freedom in the City or just illusion...
1/2OokŠ.WWWSCULPTUREŠ.introducing real space to cyberspace and vice versa
- METAPHORS, performed at the 1996 Youth Salon. The newly designed portal
incorporates in the work a simultaneous and multiple choice of web works
of other on-line authors, created in the then new frames on the browser
(Netscape Navigator 2.0). The project was first shown in the Art
Electronic web gallery in 1997. The next project that continues the idea -
Freedom in the City of just Illusion - Urban Alphabet) also included the
architect Vlatka Turniski and was first shown at the Zagreb Salon
(architecture, 1997). The project used a new form of Netscape (3.0) and
attempted at a fusion of about 50 web cameras from different cities. The
project succeeded in exploiting the sending but not the receiving of the
web cast. The interesting point of the architecture of this work is in the
use of the web user that set in motion a web cast in the gallery without
consciously controlling the action.

In a series of his work, Tomo Savic Gecan used (that a group of people had
conceived) new communication tools in order to make almost imperceptible
alterations in space. The web users (by web cast) unpredictably set in
motion (only a few millimeters) an architectonic element at the SKUC
gallery in Ljubljana (1999). The sensorially detected presence of the
visitors of the Begane Grond gallery in Utrecht briefly interrupted an
escalator in the Kaptol shopping center in Zagreb (2001). In his next
work, the sensors in a gallery in Los Angeles turned on and off the lights
in the flat of the artist in Amsterdam (2002). Andrea Kuluncic has created
a series of internet works since 1997. Closed reality: Embryo is an
interdisciplinary web work that actively incited internet users to think
out and participate in the discussion about the creation of new life. In
2002, with a group internet work called Distribucija pravde, she
participated at the Big Torino and Documenta 11 exhibitions. After her
postgraduate studies in interactive multimedia (1996-1997), Maja
Kuzmanovic took residence in the Netherlands and Belgium. She created a
great number of media work: web sites since 1996, CD-ROMs since 1995,
performance, installation, video, hypermedia works, etc. In the Once Upon
a Time project (1997) she used interactive photography, interactive film
and interactive narration, and used and developed new technologies in
collaboration with scientists. In 2001, she founded the FOAM association.
Blazenko Karesin created a series of internet works. In 22% (1998), he
used a web browser with the knjiga keyword since the project tackled the
subject of (high) tax levied on book commerce in Croatia, and in the
Strategic.Competitor work (2002) he created a politically engaged and, at
the same time, intimate internet piece. In the late 1990s, a new aesthetic
of internet works appeared that abolished the line between art and design,
the so-called Flash generacija. Ingrid Stojic participated with her
Interfaces work at dotCulture 2002. The Broadcasting project (dedicated to
Nikola Tesla, Zagreb, 2002) involved a series of video streaming
performances of Croatian authors (Lala Rascic and Ana Husman, Ivan Marusic
Klif, Marjan Crtalic).

The transformation of digital information into the analogue domain is
present in the work of several authors. In the Biblioteka project, Sandro
Djukic (since 1999) has been transforming media reality (digitalized
video) into the archives of 200,000 video frames in the form of a book,
being lost through the generations of digital compression, the possibility
of returning to the re-establishment of primary (digital) format. In
2000-2001, in the 204_NO_CONTENT graphic folder (2001), Darko Fritz and
the net. artist Mez - Mary Ann Breeze (Australia) transformed the text
with www. Reports on server mistakes and coded artistic texts into a
graphic language on paper. Dalibor Martinis performed works from the
Binarni sistem series. In the Zabranjeno parkiranje work, the message
coded in the binary code was written by parking 45 new silver and black
cars in a line (150 meters) at the main square of the German town of
Rosenheim. Several works with binary messages have been created by tolling
the bells (since 2000).


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