Tania Gorucheva

As an organisation, Moscow MediaArtLab has existed since May 2000. It was launched by an initial group consisting of Alexey Isaev (art director), Olga Shishko (curator), and Tatiana Gorucheva (coordinator) in fall 1998 and primarily had the status of a special program of the former Soros Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow. The general idea was to establish an information and research center whose task would be to stimulate development of media art in Russia through the accumulation of information exchange between Russian and international media communities, as well as through elaborating a platform for critical and innovative approaches to the use of new technologies within the cultural context.

The first project of MediaArtLab was two parallel Internet festivals organised in spring 1999. The first one called "Da-Da-Net" , was an international festival of net art projects.

Speaking about the concept of the project as a whole, it's necessary to say that both festivals were slightly opposite to each other although their general goal was the same. Both of them were aimed at examining basic aspects of the use of the Internet regarding their impact on adaptation of contemporary culture and art to this informational environment and the confluence of the latter ones with the global Internet culture. In this way, two opposite strategies were chosen in order to demonstrate, compare, and discuss the most effective pragmatic methods of distribution of cultural content via the Internet. On one side (Da-Da-Net), and subversive artistic approaches to such actual problems as information excess, methods of information processing and its representation on the web, and the use of interactive potential of the Internet. On the other side, (Trash Art).
According to an idea suggested by Alexey Isaev, an author of the project's concept and design, the most important thing was an openness, especially in reference to the Trash Art festival, where everyone can not only submit a net project, but can also judge works of participants applying his/her own criteria, create an individual collection of the best works, and let others visit his/her exhibition. Thus for us organisers, it became an interesting experiment with a new model for the making of an event.

The search for this model was inspired by two things. The first one was the necessity to find the most adequate way of accumulating the up-to-date problems of current presence of art and artists in the Internet and at the same time, keeping their presence natural within the particular framed event, trying to follow the logic of existing net projects and their relations with the environment. The second reason was the low budget of the project, which forced us to optimise those limited resources that we had at our disposal with the help of potentially available rather cheap Internet technologies.
As a result, launched net festivals attracted quite diverse, and sometimes even surprising stuff, as well as a big Internet audience, which at the early stage turned into self-developing net events. Speaking about outcomes, today one can see that such temporary net events which gather a number of Internet-based projects of a particular context on their websites gives an opportunity to sharpen the angle of the strategy for art appropriation of the
Internet. This year, we decided to recombine the two separate events and in the fall 2000 MediaArtLab will launch the third festival "Da-Da-Net" which will be international.

Despite the fact of the festivals' openness and absence of strong moderation, their results will likely be interesting for those who keep an eye on the strategy of development of art content in the Internet. Final decisions and comments gave a valuable critique "to-be-learned" by successive professionals in this field, most of whom are practitioners themselves.
Among jury members of Trash Art were Kathy Rae Huffman, Joachim Blank & Karl Heinz Jeron , Tetsuo Kagawa, Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits, Rachel Baker, Olia Lialina, and Alla Motrofanova.
best anarchistic project - Frederic Madre "m.s.t." >
, seo "algae rhythm 10"
, Ian Campbell "Imperialism"
best ecological project - Intima "zvrst3"
, Wendy Vissar "Lekso's Codebox" ; best radical conformistic project - Namniyas Ashuratova "Enemy processing system" , Kostja Mitenev "Next Future"
; special prizes: Alexei Shulgin, Mindaugas Gapsevicius, Ian Campbell.

"Pro&Contra" International Interdisciplinary Symposium

Another important goal was to widen the horizon of media culture for Russian audiences through representing innovative ideas, projects, and tendencies, and at the same time involving Russian specialists and activists with different backgrounds in productive discussion in order to find the most effective solutions of common problems. Among them is the problem of artists using advanced technologies. That has the danger of the first artists becoming dependent on the commercial strategy of software development. There was special presentation and discussion of artists' appropriation of VRML led by Kathy Rae Huffman, professor of Renssaelaer Politechnic Institute's Department of Art, and Martin Schmitz, Van Gohg TV. Very interesting artists' inventions in Internet technologies and web design were presented not only at the "Net Art" panel moderated by Alexei Shulgin but also in computer game design, presented by JODI's project "CTRL - SPACE". The Net Radio workshop which was held by Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits from E-lab in Riga demonstrated how to make your own Internet radio station and how it can be used within the context of contemporary culture.
Another spectrum of problems refers to the use of new media technologies by activists' movements. The "Art of Campaign" panel moderated by Eric Kluitenberg and Ivan Zassurskiy was one more attempt to analyse the role and potential of media in implementing alternative cultural discourses into practice.

Some aspects of the state policy concerning regulation of the Internet were touched on at the round table with Russian officials at the Press Center of the House of Government of Russian Federation. Being the first to try to establish a dialogue between policy makers and representatives of the Internet community, this discussion was not as successful as it might have been and the dialogue itself was slightly distant. Nevertheless, it should be developed in order to transform into real collaboration what is important for the protection of interests of independent Internet "citizens".

At the meeting of representatives of media centres (Kiev Media Lab, St.Petrsburg ProArte, Riga E-lab, Berlin micro.lounge, Quebec Studio XX, Tallinn E-media Center of Art Academy, Moscow Media Art Lab) vital questions such as the strategy of development of new media initiatives and educational programs were addressed. Different methods of spreading and representing information via the Internet were discussed at the panels dedicated to art servers and electronic mass media.

In July 2000 MediaArtLab held Media Forum in the frame of the XXII Moscow International Film Festival. Primarily, Media Forum was planned as a mini festival of media art with presentations of art projects created with the use of different media: videos, media installations, CD ROMs, and Internet-based projects. But finally, the event's budget was reduced and we only did video screenings, which consisted of programs prepared by the curators of Centre de George Pompidou, Montevideo, ZKM, Goethe Institute, Kiev Media Lab, and Sidney Side On Screening. This step towards the extension of context of the media art audience was dangerous in some sense (the Cannes Film Festival proved it). But surprisingly, programs of Media Forum were met with audience interest and with enthusiasm by professionals.

These three events described above are planed as annual. We also now work on collaborative educational and Internet projects, which should provide necessary support for the further development of new media culture in Russia as well as make wider contacts with our colleagues abroad.

Tatiana Gorucheva,
Coordinator of Moscow MediaArtLab

*The 1st festival "Da-Da-Net" was organised in 1998, curators: Olga Shishko and Tatiana Moguilevskaya.
***See FAQ about structure and work of Trash Art at the site:
****Information about participants you can find at the site of the symposium:

Moscow MediaArtLab
Ulanskiy Pereulock, 21-2-21
103045 Moscow
Tel/Fax: 7 095 2076629