Armin Medosch on Wed, 9 Sep 2015 04:03:29 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Robert Adrian, 1935 - 2015

   dear nettimers,
   it is my unfortunate duty to report that the Canadian Austrian artist
   Robert Adrian passed away yesterday. It all happened quickly. We
   celebrated his 80th birthday in February. Bob was diagnosed with cancer
   in June, it then went more quickly than those close to him had
   anticipated ...Â
   I am reluctant to call Bob a pioneer of net art or art and
   telecommunications. On one hand he really was someone who did things in
   this area at a really early stage, doing a first project with Bill
   Bartlet in 1979, and then starting the project Artex on the I.P.Sharp
   network in 1980. Yet on the other hand he never was one who tried to
   gain much symbolic capital out of this.Â
   Born in 1935 in Toronto, Robert Adrian primarily saw himself as a
   visual artist. Yet at the same time he had a very personal take on the
   digital revolution. Readers of nettime, a list he always held in high
   esteem, hopefully remember him for his seminal text, posted on this
   very place, and then republished in various locations, the Infobahn
   Blues, 1995.
   I am not in the mood for writing a full obituary - I hope I will be
   able to do this at a later stage. But I want to point out a few things.
   One thing is something that I have already hinted at, the tension
   between Robert Adrian's early involvement with art and
   telecommunications and his lifelong identification as a visual artist.
   He theorised this split in a very specific way, which made him, in my
   view, a member of the Toronto school of media theory, in his way, not
   as a media theorist but as an artist-as-media-theorist.Â
   Robert Adrian moved from London to Vienna in 1972, after having met his
   wife, Heidi Grundmann, an Austrian radio journalist, who also had a
   decisive influence on media art in Austria, as founder of Kunstradio.
   Robert Adrian in his new place of domicile carried out work as a visual
   artist. One well remembered piece is Picasso's eye, a pixellated eye on
   the outside of a building which is still visible form afar today.Â
   At the same time he had a strong influence on the local art scene,
   including me as a youngster in the 1980s. His works, such as The World
   in 24 Hours, Ars Electronica 1982, or the telephone concerts linking
   Vienna with Budapest, Warsaw and Berlin when the iron curtain still
   existed, have an enduring importance, and have already entered the
   history books (but maybe not in a way entirely doing them justice).
   However, what is for me more important is the way in which Robert
   Adrian was an important presence in the art scene in Vienna and
   It was maybe because exactly he was an outsider, not from Austria, that
   he could have an integrative and catalyzing role. Apart from his work
   as such, it was his presence, always at the forefront, always with the
   young forces, between critical conceptual and contemporary art and
   media art and net art, that will be an enduring memory for me, from the
   early days of Station Rose, to the Zero projects with mailboxes in the
   early 1990s till his participation in the Fields exhibition in Riga
   last year.Â
   Bob, we will always remember you well
   Â Â
   Â Â

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