Geert Lovink on Tue, 18 Feb 97 17:20 MET

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nettime: news from Kinema-Ikon (Arad-Romania)

Dear nettime,

let me introduce you to a new member, Caius Grozav, from the Kinema-Ikon
group in Arad, Romania. This is a small town in Transsylvania, near the
Hungarian border. Kinema-Ikon is one of the few media-art groups in
Romania, with a long tradition. They produced a CD-ROM recently (Andreas
Broeckmann wrote something about it for the syndicate-list) and since a
few days Caius Grozav has an e-mail address (
He sent us a text; his thought on the use of multi-media. Soon we hope to
hear more about the activities of the Kinema-Ikon group. Let's welcome
them. (geert)

From: (Andreas Broeckmann)
Subject: Media art from Arad/Romania

abroeck writes:
I was recently given some material from Arad/Romania:

Intermedia 10/96, CD-ROM

The Romanian journal, Intermedia, has recently published its no. 10/96 as
an 'electronic edition' on CD-ROM, edited by the Museum Arad and Kinema
Ikon. (for the Windows95 platform)

(Programming: Caius Grozav; Computer Design: Calin Man; Sound: Ioan Ciorba;
Camera: Florin Hornoiu; Mastering: Mihai Iacobina)

It contains projects by:

George Sabau: Ecran/Screen
Peter Huegel: Historia Rerum
Romulus Bucur: Cintecel
Judit Angel: Art Museum Arad
Mitzi Kapture: Domotique
Calin Man: reVoltaire's...
Liliana Trandabur: Pataphysique
Caius Grozav: Hymera
Kinema Ikon: [various project documentations]

The contact address for the CD-ROM is:

Museum Arad
Piata Enescu 1
Arad 2900

[abroeck adds: A copy of the CD-ROM was given to me by Calin Dan who
brought it to Amsterdam from Arad in January 97. I had only one brief
opportunity to look at the projects on the volume and got the impression
that it is quite promising. The texture of movies, sounds and designs is
rather grainy and partly has that 'multi-media' feel to it, with a rather
straightforward and functional interface connecting the different projects,
and relative homogeneity in the design of the interfaces for each
individual project. Yet, some of the projects looked very original and had
a good sense of humour. There is a mix of medium-specific projects,
experiments with texts, sounds and videos, and some animation work. As I
say, I cannot comment on the precise content at this moment, but if
anything, the CD-ROM shows that there is a group of people working in Arad
now that is able to produce potentially interesting media art projects. The
support of the Arad Museum seems to instrumental in this development.]

(no title)
by Caius Grozav

Our civilization is based on information transfer - in the time of written
messages we discovered that a set of signs, together with a set of rules
(about how signs are to be arranged), can encapsulate and transfer a
message; and this is how it happened for a very long time.
Beginning with the first movie with sound track, we started to use
two different sets of signs and rules to transfer a message - of course
theater existed for thousand years, but it was to close to every day's
life and restricted as audience to notice.  

Later we invented the machine named computer, that allowed us to store huge
amount of data, administrate it and what's new, process it. In this
environment something we call multimedia was born - I won't try a hasty
definition, just point out this involves putting together text, sound,
static and dynamic image and spice everything with interactivity. In other
words, for the first time information does lock a lot different from a
secvential flow of data, so that the receptor ca  become really active
in the process.
A glimpse in computer's history would also be interesting - initially born
as a computing facility, it determined development of data storage
technologies, then sorting and searching, then transfer... leading to what
we call now cyberspace. 
We speak about virtual reality in this new environment, forgetting this is
not something hundred percent new. Just think of all media channels bringing
us daily information about what happened all over the world creating an
image which is unfortunately not always very close to the real one.
Revolutionary technologies always generated adverse reaction, like
destruction of first mechanic looms in England. In my opinion it is clear
they come with good and bad sides and is up to us to properly use them. 
They are initially developed to help better do usual tasks; later they bring
new facilities. First graphic editing programs just helped make-up of
printed materials, later they brought specific effects and facilities...
first CD-s were just a new digital support for music, meant to bring an
improvement to existing storage media... and they developed into something
very different. Although marked by the commercial, it seems significant to
me, the number of titles in computer CD-s offered, sky rocketed in 
only a few years.
We can buy on such a support huge data bases, or computer games, or just
a more reliable media for software storage. Speaking of software I can't
forget that the biggest pile of American money comes from an industry that
hasn't existed ten years ago, but we are now very familiar with.
It is now normal to posses a computer and to buy Virtual Objects, we call
software - it is enough to insert a CD in, and our computer transforms into
a typewriter (and more), or a drawing pad, or  Xwing fighter...
Naturally, Virtual Objects where initially supposed to imitate real ones.
Imagine you just bought a new CD unit for your computer (including software);
will it actually sing? You launch the media rack and you are not even
surprised that on the screen appears a very similar structure to the real
rack. Being in a known environment, it's just a click on the play button...
If you already posses a real rack, you will even notice that the design of
the Virtual one is more classic. 
It is absolutely normal for a beginning. You can find lots of examples;
even basic concepts of today's graphic interfaces are imitating existing
real structures. For very many people those Virtual Structures entered
already in the area of "thinks that everyone knows".
Now that the first steps are made, I think Virtual Object must obtain it's
independence. When listening classic music on my computer, I would like to
see on my screen, instead of a silly picture of an useless imaginary object,
at least some nice related image, if not some whiz motion-picture making
me better understand/feel the music... Is it absolutely necessary to
control this environment with classic buttons... Wouldn't it be nice to
find there optional information about the composer, historic background,
or the interpret...
Sounds familiar you may say, like Hypertext versus Book... but I think the
Book will last for ever as a specific structured information support, while
the actual Hypertext is just a step, a transition form, because of the impact
of image, sound and motion on classic text... I believe each information
storage media must justify it's existence by means of a specific offer, which
brings it's identity and utility.
We have to reconsider some basic concepts regarding what we call User
Interface; I'm sure things like a certain proportion between user's action
and computer's reaction will be preserved, but also that this new tool is not
anymore supposed to imitate earlier invented tools. 
Some may say this will enlarge the gap between those in business and the rest
of the world, and this may be right, if we will not be able to redefine the
concept of User Friendliness of an interface, on conceptual basis instead of
an imitation one.
Stimulation of several channels in this environment may be considered as a
source of stress, but I think this is just a design problem; it can determine
relaxation or concentration as well.
Without making courageous predictions, I think it's worse to experiment in an
area between the data base and the computer game, trying to exploit the
specificity of the environment. I don't think someone will ever be tempted to
read War And Peace on the computer screen, (although it would be very
useful to have it on electronic support when we need to analyze the
text), but it would be interesting to have something like a serious
intellectual computer game around the text, pointing out alternative ideas,
explaining...  tempting us to read the original.

caius grozav
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