Inke Arns on Sun, 5 Jul 1998 12:50:47 +0100

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Syndicate: Finally: Convergence Vol. 4, Iss. 2

Dear all,

the Summer 1998 issue of Convergence which I guest-edited on "New Media
Cultures in Eastern, Central and South-Eastern Europe" finally is available! 

I am sending you the Table of Contents and my editorial - it is also online
at <>.

Convergence is a paper journal. For further information and details of back
issues see their web site at <>.
Editorial e-mail: <>

Orders should be sent direct to: Journal Subscriptions, University of Luton
Press, Faculty of Humanities, University of Luton, 75 Castle Street, Luton
E-mail: <> Tel:+44 1582 743297. Fax: +44 1582 743298.

Best wishes,

Inke Arns


Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, published
by the University of Luton Press / UK, Vol. 4, Iss. 2, Summer 1998

Contents of "New Media Cultures in Eastern, Central and South-Eastern
guest edited by Inke Arns

1. Editorial (see below)

2. Debates

Lev Manovich
Behind the Screen: Russian New Media

Geert Lovink
Intermedia: The Dirty Digital Bauhaus. An E-mail exchange with János Sugár

Eric Kluitenberg
Connectivity, New Freedom, New Marginality. A Report from the Baltic

Marina Grzinic
The Representation of the Body under 'Communism'

Igor Markovic
Periphery vs Province

3. Articles

Laura B Lengel
Access to the Internet in East Central and South-Eastern Europe: New
Technologies and New Women's Voices

Oliver Marchart
The East, the West and the Rest: Central and Eastern Europe between
Techno-Orientalism and the New Electronic Frontier

Ágnes Gulyás
In the Slow Lane of The Information Superhighway: Hungary and the
Information Revolution

4. Feature Report

Andreas Broeckmann
Towards a European Media Culture - which Culture, which Media, which Europe?

Kathy Rae Huffman
Video from Bosnia: A Meeting Point of Memory and Reality

5. Reviews

Inke Arns
Pioneers Revisited: Documenting Aspects of the first two Decades of Media
Art in Germany

Oliver Marchart
The Plague of Virtuality: Slavoj Zizek reads VR through the Lacanian interface

Anna Bálint
Garden of Communication

Miklós Peternák
Three years of Internet-Art in Hungary: An annotated List of Sites and Events

Stephen Quinn
Pioneering Spirit and Technology: The Future of the Information Highway in

6. Notes on Contributors


Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, published
by the University of Luton Press / UK, Vol. 4, Iss. 2, Summer 1998

Editorial: New Media Cultures in Eastern, Central and South-Eastern Europe

Inke Arns

Almost ten years after the revolutionary changes of 1989, this special
issue of Convergence focuses on the recent cultural, social and political
implications of new media technologies in the post-socialist countries of
Eastern, Central and South-Eastern Europe. One of the first lessons to be
learned as the Iron Curtain rose was that the east bloc was hardly a bloc
at all in the sense of a homogeneous, solid whole. Strategies and forms of
media culture were quite different in the individual countries due to the
varying possibilities of access to new media (e.g. video cameras,
computers, xerox machines, etc.) as well as varying degrees to which
?independent? mass media and ?divergent? opinions were put up with. While,
for example, the subcultural or alternative scene in Yugoslavia -
especially in Slovenia - had been working with video since the early 1980s,
the situation in Czechoslovakia, the GDR, or Romania (1) was entirely
different because access to the technical means was not possible, for
either political or economic reasons. In the past few years, new media
centers and initiatives have been set up in several post-socialist
countries of Eastern Europe. They focus on various forms of media culture
and Internet projects and are increasingly taking an active role in global
digital culture. (2)

The diversity of the emerging media culture that surfaced since the early
1990s is reflected in the variety of the topics presented in this special
issue of Convergence. The contributions do not represent a coherent body,
but rather its opposite: they critically reflect a complex and heterogenous
terrain, thus revealing the diversity and the speed of recent media
cultural developments in Eastern, Central and South-Eastern Europe. The
debates pieces, research articles, feature reports and reviews highlight
the problematic areas connected to the growing implementation of global
media networks, and address questions of access to new information and
communication technologies and their subsequent use in various local contexts.

In the debates section, Lev Manovich, from the University of California,
San Diego, USA, raises the question whether a response to new media
different to that in the West can be expected on the part of Russian
artists.(3) Analysing the current re-thinking of the historical tradition
of ?screen culture?, he offers a compelling vision of how Russian new media
artists can negotiate between the extreme materialism of Western computer
art practice and the historicism and conceptualism characteristic of
Russian art. Geert Lovink, a new media activist with Adilkno, the
Foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge, amongst other things,
interviews János Sugár, artist and lecturer at the Intermedia Department of
the Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary. The discussion looks at the
relationship between traditional and digital media and questions whether a
combination of artistic practices gives a greater freedom to the artist in
a country with a legacy of censorship of access to both audiences and to
media art technology. Sugár?s advocacy of ?intermedia? ? which he defines
as ?interdisciplinary plus media? ? offers a refreshing perspective on the
integration of new media into art practice and art education, and one which
contrasts with the ?multimedia? approach often taken in the West. Eric
Kluitenberg, who works with the Society for Old and New Media in Amsterdam,
NL, and the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Germany, reports on the recent
emergence of a critical discourse about the social and cultural aspects of
networking, and the emancipatory claims connected with the propagation of
new ICTs in the three Baltic States. Discussing the term of
?misrepresentation? derived from feminist film theory, Marina Grzinic, from
the Slovenian Academy of Science and Art in Ljubljana, Slovenia, who, as a
post-doctoral fellow is currently based in Tokyo, Japan, reflects on the
reconstruction and re-invention of the body in video art during ?communist?
times and offers a critical outlook on the confusion of decentered bodies
at the end of the millenium. Feeling the lack of theoretical works and
appropriate terms for approaching new media art phenomena, Igor Markovic,
executive editor of the political and cultural magazine Arkzin, Zagreb,
Croatia, proposes to reactivate the terms of ?peripheral?, ?border-line?
and ?provincial arts? originally coined by the Croatian art historian
Karaman some 30 years ago, for the evaluation of contemporary artistic
practices on the Internet.

In the articles section, Agnes Gulyás, from Napier University, Edinburgh,
Scotland, examines Hungary?s response to the opportunities of the
information revolution since the end of communism from an economic point of
view reflecting on cultural aspects as well. She argues that there have
been significant advances in the development of the information sector in
the country. However, because of the legacy of communism, economic
difficulties and the unclear policies and disconcerted efforts of the first
post-communist governments, the information revolution has made limited
progress. Oliver Marchart, from the Essex University, UK, and the
International Research Institute for Cultural Studies, Vienna, Austria,
maps out the West European techno-imaginary in its differential relation
towards both the 'Oriental' (or ?Techno-Orientalist?) and the American
(?New Frontier?) myth of electronic space. Marchart seeks to explore
Central Europe's role and location within the imaginary cartography of
techno-colonialist discourses on electronic networks. Laura B Lengel, from
the American International University in London, UK, questions the
empowering capabilities of the Internet in East Central Europe, presenting
the voices from this region who assert that only with widespread access,
can the Internet fullfil its democratic promise. Her article highlights
women?s organisations in Hungary, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic which are
creating spaces for collaboration and connectivity, and providing a forum
for new voices which have previously been silent.

In the feature reports section, Andreas Broeckmann, who works with the
V2_Organisation in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, describes efforts on the
part of the media cultural community to tackle the lack of understanding
for social and cultural dimensions of new technologies on the official
level of European politics, and discusses the results of the conference
'From Practice to Policy', which aim to overcome this deficit in awareness.
Kathy Rae Huffman, freelance curator, writer and networker, based in
Vienna, Austria, discovers a new generation of young media artists emerging
from Sarajevo, Bosnia, who are struggling to re-enter the international
flow of life and communication.

I hope that in all its variety, this special issue of Convergence
contributes to a better understanding of the diversity and the
specificities of the emerging media cultures in Eastern, Central, and
South-Eastern Europe. I also hope that it provides an insight into the
crucial developments and the problems connected to the introduction of new
media technologies in this part of Europe, which by now is also facing the
much discussed effects of globalisation. Having witnessed the emergence of
local media cultures and translocal networks such as the V2_East/Syndicate
over the past few years, and being aware of their respective cultural
backgrounds, I cannot help being an optimist.

(1) Calin Dan, artist and member of the group subREAL from Bucharest,
Romania, states that up until the beginning of the 1990s he ?had never
processed a text on a computer, never sent a fax, never approached a
photocopy machine, never owned a VCR." (Calin Dan, ?Romania - A Right to
Virtuality: Media Institutions are the Lab Pets of Social Research in Times
of Peace because Media are the best War Simulators?, in: Nina Czegledy
(ed.), In Sight: Media Art from the Middle of Europe, Toronto: XYZ Artists'
Outlet, 1995, p. 28)
(2) The E-Lab in Riga, Latvia, the WWW Art Center in Moscow, Russia, C3
(Center for Culture and Communication) in Budapest, Hungary, the SCCA Media
Labs in Skopje, Macedonia and in Sofia, Bulgaria, are just a few examples.
(3) See also Bruce Sterling?s report on Russian politics and St.
Petersburg?s contemporary art scene, ?Art and Corruption?, in Wired,
January 1998, pp. 119-140

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