contextual history of kinema ikon
by george sabau

 

kinema ikon, multimedia workshop, is presently functioning within the Arad Art Museum, being a long-lived group in the field of experimental contemporary art, and having reached the age of 35 years, and still continuing its activity in digital creation.
Three distinct stages have been undergone: experimental movie (1970-1989), mixed media (1990-1993), and, from 1994 on, exclusively hypermedia works, on CD-ROM, on the internet, and interactive installations have been produced, both individually and as group works.
These three stages will be narrated from the subjective perspective of the founding member, nevertheless respecting scientific the rigors of a conventional study. In this respect, I had to choose between an easy to accept by a hurried reader summary, and the pressure of exhaustive treatment of the matter, the preferred modality in the world of research. Of course, an incomplete hybrid resulted, for which I already ask for apologies.
I emphasize the fact that the kinema ikon group / workshop did not function in a void space, but in a complex cultural-artistic context, particular to the period undergone. It is for this reason that, methodologically, I will respect, in all stages described here, what can be called the rule of the context.
Anyway, together with other segments of the catalogue, it is my hope that the reader interested in the contradictory field of experimental creation to correctly perceive the interesting story of an absolutely atypical group.


The Experimental Movie Stage (1970-1989)
Therefore, in a. D. 1970, in the town of Arad, in western Transilvania, a province belonging to a country called Romania, somewhere in central Europe, it took birth, around a hard core, a group of young people preoccupied with the idea of experimental creation. The chosen artistic medium was cinema, this inevitably leading to experimental movie.
The historical-social-political context was called communism, which excluded from the very beginning the possibility of founding a research center, while the legal framework admitted by the regime was that of a cinema circle, at the beginning within the Arts School / Arts High-school, and, later on, integrated into the structure of the Art Museum. The name we chose was Atelier 16 / Workshop 16, and the theoretical project initiated bore the name of kinema ikon, denominations which have come to overlap in the course of time. During the first years, the workshop’s activity was predominantly technical, being compensated with programs in cinematography education, of the cinémathèque type, following the French model, while the creative-experimental approaches were quite occasional.
For western readers, as well as for the youngest ones, an explanation is needed. The Romanian communist regime has experimented, for a quite long time, an educational system – from kindergarten to university – which combined the inter-war model with the West-European one. The effect was beneficial, having issued a generation of well-educated youths, known as the generation of the ’80s, from the fact that it is from around 1980 they began to establish themselves by literary, visual arts, musical, theatrical and cinematographical works, proposing a new paradigm of artistic creation, and a new approach to reality.
As a teacher in arts education, I perceived the phenomenon of the ’80s without, at that moment, realizing that this generation will constitute a landmark. In the beginning, young members of the group were attracted by the cinematographic education evenings – archive movies projections, with a certain insistence upon the avant-garde movies we had access to – always followed by discussions to the object. Parts of the participants were discreetly selected by their creative qualities and inclinations towards unconventional attitudes. Hence, delicately and persuasively overlapping the theoretical project kinema ikon, it took a very short time until undertaking the state of experiment and to the desire of manipulating moving images, which lead, after 1975, to an irruption of individual experimental movies. It is around the same date that most of the young members of the group started or continued their university education in various fields of the humanities, letters, visual arts, architecture, design, cinematography etc. Both during their student years and after, they continued making experimental movies or having theoretical contributions, as critical commentators of the phenomenon.
At the beginning of the ’70s, an experimental movie, The Chair, made by Demian Sandru and the author of this text, was awarded the Jury’s Special Prize at the Brno International Festival of short movies an event discussed in the cultural press, which resulted in obtaining a substantially larger location, new equipment, and other advantages. We now had a very large hall, just fit for visual arts exhibitions, such that, between 1975 and 1980, my younger colleagues have unofficially exhibited graphical works, paintings, pictures, collages, mail-art. The exhibitions went together with experimental movies projections, and were animated by discussions upon the correspondence between arts, all having the background of electronic, concrete, electro-acoustic, and of course pop-rock music. The 18 visual arts exhibitions organized in the workshop’s hall were intercalated, until the mid ’80s, with performances of short theatre plays acted by student companies, among which the Caragealeologic Studio [from the name of Romanian writer Ion Luca Caragiale] and Thespis, from Timisoara, then Ars Amatoria and Pantomima from Cluj. The last exhibition-performance of the series consisted of the exceptional presentation of seven fantasy movies, produced in 1912 and projected with a Pathé Frérès projector, in a highly rare format of 28 mm., belonging to the Frangopol family.
To these audio-visual approaches can be added the literary preoccupations of a third of the kinema ikon group – some having already published volumes of poetry, fiction, literary criticism or essays – thus becoming evident the specific note of the interdisciplinary perspective dominating the creative climate inside the group. Anyway, the experimental movies realized by the same persons were expressing, with different means of creation, something totally different in a different way, being formally and stylistically close to the historical avant-garde of the ’20s and to the cinematographic Euro-American avant-garde of the ’60s and the ’70s. The “something else – differently” pair represents just the strategy of the interdisciplinary approach to a specific language, having in view the instating of a different type of discourse, resorting to the form of expression of images in motion.
Above all, in 1980, the kinema ikon workshop (ki) had a portfolio of 30 individual experimental movies, and some group-school made ones, belonging to all the categories of the genre: direct interventions on film, dynamical abstractions, chromatic processing, dream-like essays, special effects collages, dys-narrative essays, ciné-verité and lyrical documentaries. In Romania’s artistic circles the kinema ikon (ki) group was perceived as an atypical, non-conventional and underground one, being thus vulnerable when faced to the ideological pressure of the communist regime. In this respect, a very important part in supporting the group and “accrediting” the filmic experiments was played by a few cinema critics, which wrote more that appreciative texts in the specialized magazine, Cinema, but also in other cultural magazine, such as Contemporanul, Rom‚nia literara, Vatra, Familia, Orizont a. s. o. It is with gratitude that I mention the names of film critics which promoted, with obstinacy and courage, our experimental project: Eva SÓrbu, Florian Potra, Valerian Sava, Bujor RÓpeanu, Calin Caliman, George Littera, Cristina Corciovescu, as well as cinematographers Nicolae Cabel, Lucian Bratu, Horia Murgu. The same beneficial effect had the texts published in the student cultural press by young writers Ion Muresan, Ovidiu Ghitta and Albert Ciupe in Echinox, Ioan Grosan and Ioan Buduca in Amfitetru, Florin CÓntec in Dialog and Opinia, and Andreea Gheorghiu in Forum studentesc. There were also texts by Serban Foarta in Orizont, H. Al. Cabuti in Familia, composer Liviu Danceanu in Muzica magazine, art critic Calin Dan in Arta, together with my apologies for those involuntarily omitted.
The place and role of the kinema ikon group in the context of experimental art in Romania was mentioned too in several reference works published after 1990 – anthologies, studies, essays catalogues – with texts signed by Magda C‚rneci, Ioan Bogdan Lefter, Gheorghe Craciun, Luca Pitu, Sorin Antohi, Marilena Preda-S‚nc, Alexandra Titu, as well as in the consistent Catalog of the Experiment ’60 – ’90 exhibition, by a synthetic study by film critic Alex. Leo Serban, and, a bit later, in the Timisoara magazine Ariergarda, Daniel Vighi and Viorel Marineasa produced together, on a bistro’s terrace a silly text, in the laudatio style.
I emphasize the fact that, during the seventies and eighties, the ki experimental movies were not subject to public projections in Arad, – they were shown “privately”, at the workshop, while in other cities, such as Bucharest, Timisoara, Cluj and Iasi, projections were conditioned by the presence of film, literary or art critics, which really guaranteed the safety and continuity of our experimental projects, by the promptitude, competence, and, often, delight which were obvious in the texts from the above mentioned publications.
Under these circumstances, we considered it was the moment for a national meeting, organizing a symposium with projection in may 1980, the motive invoked being the group’s ten years of existence. All specialized professional institutions were invited, namely, the Institute of Theatre and Cinematography, the Documentary Movies Studio, the Anima-Film Studio, some important cine-clubs, as well as some visual artists using the medium of film. For three days, experimental movies were projected, and arts essays presented in the author’s presence – cinematographers, students, visual artists, academics, and film critics, which reflected the event in the time’s cultural press. Of course, part of the thirty kinema ikon experimental movies were projected, followed by debates upon the condition of movie as an artistic experiment from the standpoint of the avant-garde – experiment relation, and other theoretical issues.
An indirect effect of the 1980 symposium consisted in the “retreat” of the ki group from the cinematographic system – with the mandatory participation to a national festival of painful memory – and its integration to the alternative art and literature, as practiced by the artists and writers of the generation of the ’80s. This meant the participation of the ki members at visual arts exhibitions, such as Medium in Sf. Gheorghe, Mirror-Space and others, of the same scope. We also responded to the invitations made by four students’ magazines, in whose facilities we projected experimental movies, followed by inciting discussions, the way it happened at Echinox / Cluj, Forum / Timisoara, Dialog – Opinia / Iasi and at Amfiteatru – Cenaclul din Tei, Bucharest.
Two interdisciplinary symposiums organized in Arad by the ki group remained memorable: Intermedia 1, image in artistic discourse (may, 1984) and Intermedia 2, the interval in artistic discourse (may, 1988). Each of these symposiums was attended by over fifty participants from the main universities in the country, belonging to all generations and to all cultural domains. Were present, with theoretical opinions or taking part in the debates, philosophers of culture, aestheticians, writers, literary, arts and cinema critics, visual artists, architects, cinematographers, musicians and people from the field of theatre – the space chosen for it being just the studio of the Arad Theatre. Besides the leading idea of the “interdisciplinary perspective”, these meetings pursued too a somehow subversive objective... Cultural life in Romania underwent in the ’80s the darkest period, because of the political and ideological, most of the times having a devastating effect. In this respect, the symposium was also conceived as an opportunity of bringing together, in direct contact, outstanding personalities, belonging to all generations and to various cultural and artistic fields.
It is worth mentioning that meetings of such scope were not approved of by what, at the time, were called Party & State organs. I got the favorable resolution by a straightaway both comical and pathetic trick – I must confess, using the benevolent suggestion of a high official having worked in the censorship system – that is, I got the signature of a deputy minister of the former national council of culture, who, in his huge ignorance, had no idea who were the invited persons on the list presented to him, so that our comrade understood it was about some members of some ciné-clubs in the country... That is, professor Solomon Marcus, Alexandru Paleologu, Andrei Plesu, Magda C‚rneci, Serban Foarta, Luca Pitu, Sorin Antohi, Ioan Bogdan Lefter, Calin Dan, Gheorghe Craciun, Gheorghe Ene, Daniel Vighi, Viorel Marineasa, Constantin Flondor, Livius Cioc‚rlie, Ioan Buduca, Radu Calin Cristea, Eugen Suciu (playing a very important part in logistics), Andreea Gheorghiu, Dana Diminescu, Maria Foarta, Adriana Babeti, Carmen Francesca Banciu, Andrei Bodiu, Horia Al. Cabuti, Mircea Cartarescu, Dinu Flam‚nd, Ioan Grosan, Florin Iaru, Petru Iliesu, Ion Monoran, Ion Muresan, Romelo Pervolovici, Mircea Pora, Michaela Rosu, George Littera, Cristina Corciovescu, Augustin Fratila, Corneliu Dimitriu, Iosif Costinas, Alexandru Musina, Emil Bunaru, Wiliam Totok, Radu Igaszág, Onisim Colta, Vasile Dan, Pia Br‚nzeu, academics and students from Timisoara, literati from Arad, and all of the members of the kinema ikon group, among whom five have presented theoretical texts – Mircea Mihaies, Ligia Holuta, Valentin Constantin, Romulus Bucur and Gheorghe Sabau. The conferences and debates were intercalated by experimental movies projections from AnimaFilm, I.A.T.C. and ki. But also by concerts performed by the Contemporary Music Workshop, Archaeus, lead by composer Liviu Danceanu, concerts which were the true revelation of the symposium, a sort of acoustic-musical complement to the visual experiments of kinema ikon.
In the 1980-1990 period, thirty more movies were produced, so that, within two decades, the members of kinema ikon group made 62 experimental individual movies. Before introducing their list, I will synthetically present a few theoretical considerations regarding their typology and main characteristics.
Therefore, the movies are individual, but made within a group / workshop, which was proposed a theoretical project under the name of kinema ikon: the interdisciplinary perspective of filmic language, whose main form of expression aims both at the movement of images and the image of movement, whence the name, the undertaking of experiment as a method and state of mind, treating the acoustic dimension as a noise around kinetic images, the screen is considered as a support of reception for all technical means of visual recording, generating the screen-arts phrase, each frame is a “complex iconic statement”, the articulation of frames is not dependent on the logic of linear narrative, the ludic spirit and irony as leading attitudes, the goal of the screen discourse aims at reception effects which induce to the audience states, climates, meaning, and, to a lesser extent, militant messages, etc.
After exhausting the interest in dynamic abstractions, in incisions operated right on the film, and in chromatic interventions superposed over the recorded images, it followed, after 1980, the interest in retrieving certain aspects of reality, by resorting to the relevance of autonomous fragments, transformed into elements of filmic language, using the method of re-contextualizing in a new system of relationships. A special device in this last period was the treatment of certain technical operations such as zooming, travelling, the chemical processing, focused lighting, superposing, the fix frame, variable filming speed and re-filming, used as subjects of screen discourse.
Figurative character of images is neither entirely destroyed, like in abstract movies, nor completely invented, like in structural movies. The audience is proposed neither a “wild meaningless perception”, nor an “over-determination of meaning”, something like de visualized ideas. Instead, a relational combinatory between objects, spaces, movements, situations, and persons, whose micro-behavior take into account the valences of kinesics and proxemics – gestures, positions, interpersonal distance etc. – is used.
Narrative modes, especially the aspects of conventional story, were either completely eluded (the non-narrative), or deviated towards different forms of expressing the content, such as the pseudo-narrative or the dys-narrative. In this respect, the succession of the frames prefigures, by their non-linear structure, the specific marks to be later on promoted by hyper-textual reading...
With few exceptions, I avoided mentioning the titles of the 62 experimental movies, technical data, notes about the authors, and, generally about the ki members, in order not to alter the text’s coherence. I will do it now, in the form of a list, not basically chronological, as typological, including, in the end, too, those components of the group which did not produce experimental works, but substantially contributed at constituting the kinema ikon climate for two decades (’70 – ’90).
All the 62 experimental movies were made on reversible 16 mm. film, BW and / or color, with magnetic sound included, being short-footages between 3 and 15 minutes, under the logo of the same producer, atelierul kinema ikon.
Therefore, I will mention just the author, his / her profession, filmography and year: Gheorghe Sabau, esthetician, founding member of the group, filmography – Hypostases, 1970, Cuting ups, 1980-85, Fragmentarium, 1985-90. Ioan Ples, visual artist, poet, movies – The Struggle, 1974, Flight, 1975, Dance, 1975, Horizontal Game, 1976, Vertical Game, 1977, Pollution, 1977, Coming of Spring Effects, 1978, Panta Rhei, 1979, Solarization, 1981, Illuminations, 1981, Emergence, 1982. Romulus Budiu, photographer, electronist, movies – Alone with Snow, 1975, Nobody’s Day, 1979, Motor, 1988. Emanuel Tet, visual artist, movies – Dynamic Poem, 1978, War and Peace – 1978, Chess, 1979, Bird-Hunting, 1980, The Snake Charmer, 1981. Ioan T. Morar, poet, essayist, movies – Autopsy of Oblivion, 1977. Florin Hornoiu, photographer, cameraman, movies – Commuters, 1976. Alexandru Pecican, visual artist, stage director, movies – Subliminal Exercise, 1979, Window open towards, 1984. Ovidiu Pecican, fiction writer, historian, essayist, movies – Signs, 1982. Demian Sandru, painter and photographer, movies – The Chair, 1971, 16 mm. cinemascope and multiple screen, Open Flash, 1975, The Accident, 1976, A Death-Convict has Escaped, 1977, Pompeii, Hiroshima and Me, 1978. Viorel Micota, fiction writer, movies – The Usage of Night, 1979, Memories from a Landscape, 1980, Leonardo (sketch), 1985. Valentin Constantin, essayist, movies – Dream between Vivid and Void, 1979, Beginning of a Coherence, 1981, Three Sketches, 1982, Day Close-In, 1985. Sergiu Onaga, painter, movies – Sliding towards White, 1981. Cristian Ostafi, photographer, movies – Convergence towards the useless, 1980. Romulus Bucur, poet, essayist, movies – Don’t Shoot the Piano-Player, 1984. Iosif O. Stroia, graphic artist, movies – Self-Portrait, 1984. Viorel Simulov, visual artist, movies – Manuscript. 1984, Ocular, 1985, Liquid Landscape, 1988. Ioan Galea, visual artist, movies – Study 1 Details, 1986, Study 2 Fibonacci, 1987. Gelu Muresan, graphic artist, movies – The Concert, 1980, etc. Marcela Muntean, stage painter, movies – Reflections / Pulsions, 1983-89. Stefan Neamtu, technician / typographer, movies – The Fountain, 1979, Ambient, 1981. Daniel Mot, graphic artist, photographer, movies – Tuesday and Friday, 1977, Kitsch-Kitsch Hooray! 1977. Cristian Jurca, DJ, movies – Stereomania – 1981. Geo Crisan, painter, movies – Burlesque Fantasy, 1982. Monica Trifu, movies – Duet, 1982. Viorel Marina, musician, movies – Recital, 1982. Gheorghe Maxinan, graphic artist, movies – Stone Dreaming, 1982. Roxana Chereches, philologist, movies – Experimenthalia / sketch, 1986. Camelia Pocol, movies – Ianus / sketch, 1981. Liliana Trandabur-Torchet, philologist, movies – Mise-en-écran / editing 1989.Calin Man, philologist, work – What’s Happening, video, 1992.
Plus a few group-school essays, interesting rather as technical effects and a 30 minutes edited movie, called Workshop Diary, made in 1989 from frames and sequences “fallen” when editing the 62 experimental movies; a ludic-ironic reflection of the ki climate for two decades. There is still another edited movie, also 30 minutes long, entitled Forspan / Vorspann / Preview / Bande d’annonce, and made from the most significant frames selected out of the 62 experimental movies. Both were copied onto VHS videotape and on DVD.
The titles in bold-type are part of the 22 experimental movies set, projected in two evenings of May, 1995, at Cinéma du Musée de la Centre G. Pompidou Paris; they were copied onto VHS videotape and on DVD. The selection of this set was made by the sole criterion of the group’s representativeness, starting from the curator’s suggestion, Mr. Jean-Michel Bouhours, of not surpassing three hours of projection, which doesn’t imply at all that the other 40 movies belong to a different value category.
A typological precision is asked too. Thus, most of the theorists consider experimental movie to be an autonomous genre, obeying to a specific objective, which aims, principally, at technical-stylistic operations of research into the language of moving images, recorded onto cinematographic film, and which involves all classical genres – animation, fiction, documentary, essay, etc.
A great part of the kinema ikon members did not make individual movies, but played, nevertheless, an essential part in the act of instating an inciting, provocative, ludic, ironic, intellectual climate, also freed from cultural clichés, language stereotypes, “idola theatri”; they have permanently promoted an unconventional attitude, which induced the experiment atmosphere a continuous “facultas ludentes”. In this respect I will mention, with love and respect, the following: Ligia Holuta, poet, translator from French, Mircea Mihaies, literary critic, essayist, Valeriu C‚mpan, cinematographer, Adrian Ostafi, photographer, cameraman, Ionel Vesea, architect, Judit Angel, art critic, curator, Rodica Varganici, painter, Mircea Stanica, electronic engineer, Emil Anghel, architect, Dorel Daraban, English teacher, Lazar Ciortea, cinema technician, Ionel Nistor, architect, Ghighi Tapos, computer specialist, Mihai Frangopol, photographer, Teodor Caciora, composer, Mihai Emil Mucescu, computer specialist, Cristian Moisescu, English teacher, Daniel Roman, computer specialist, Codruta Onaga, fashion designer, Ilona Mihaies, English teacher, Sava Doru Pintilie, journalist, Traian Ples, typographer, Eva Bucur, French teacher, Ilie Trut, copywriter, Horia Santau, cartoonist, Liviu Malita, essayist, Octavian Bora, designer, Florin Didilescu, French teacher, Adrian Diaconu, composer, Mihai Dogaru, musician, Dana Mihailovici, architect, Lucia Conopan, antiquarian, Corina Arimie, painter, Tiberiu Bodal, electronist, Marieta Selejan, teacher, Marius Teohari, musician, Mihaela Pacurar, visual artist, Doru Pacurar, stage painter, Ioan Ciorba, sound technician, Caius Grozav, computer specialist, Roxana Chereches, piano player and philologist, Calin Man, philologist, Liliana Trandabur, philologist, Sorin Gules, electronical engineer, Mihai Iacobina, computer specialist, Maria and Traian Rosculet, computer specialists, Ana Herlo, Monica Vlad, Otilia Adoc, Radu Dragos, Sanda Roveanu, Ioan Blaj, Elvira Hirsch, Doina OgÓrcin, Nicolae Farcas-FrÓna, Eugen Mot, Mihaela Campan, Stefan Matyas, Liviu Puticiu, Sava Mustata, Romulus Pacurar, Liliana Stanescu, Florica Cimpoies, Dan Alexandrescu-Gusti, Doina Lungu, Liana Paun, Caty and Pavel Dan Pascal, Nelu Dragomir, Adrian Iancu-Pendula, Corina Ardelean, Bety Nicolaescu, Mirela Ursu, Eugen Enache, Gheoghe Morar, Vetuta Vladi, Tifrea Mariana, Zenaida Todinca, Dorel Crainic, Dan Tudur, Daniel Julean, Rodica Vesa, Elisabeta Vacarescu, Dumitru Toma,Doina Toma, Ioan Danciu, Mihai Maris, Gheorghe Pahomi, Livia Marinescu, Ioana Latu… not to mention the exceptional support of wives, Norica Stroia, Daniela Galea, Rodica Hornoiu, Angela Simulov, Violeta Pecican, Lucia Sandru, and, especially, Mrs. Getutza S.
All my gratitude goes also to the technical founding members: Gheorghe Lupas, Gheorghe Miculescu, Adrian Ostafi, Gheorghe Nidermayer, Teodor Uiuiu, Lazar Ciortea, together with my apologies for those involuntarily omitted…
At first sight, the number of members having haunted the Arad experimental movie workshop seems quite great, but twenty years is a long time too, at which the quasi-official status of visual arts school can be added. Anyway, the proportion between the 30 authors and the almost 100 participant members proved itself to be fertile and stimulative for the group’s creative-experimental activity.
As regards the apparently great number of the participants, I’d like to mention the fact that, during the same period, a number of 30 (thirty!) kinema ikon members have left Romania, and among them, the majority were defectors, people who illegally fled over the border. Part of them were caught by the authorities and sentenced to prison, succeeding to escape the communist system after several attempts. This state of facts was the main cause for which the regime’s political police did not approve any participation of the ki group at festivals, symposiums or exhibitions in the West! Otherwise, the Securitate did permanently survey the group’s activity, considering experimental movies as subversive as SF literature, jazz or alternative visual arts.
After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, we could answer the invitations addressed to us, the most important being that, already mentioned, at the G. Pompidou Center, only just to become aware of having missed all of the trains of experimental movie, because the trend, the interest were already focused on video art, while the multimedia technology had had a powerful start too.
As regards the reception of the ki movies, a question from the audience in Cinéma du Musée stuck to my memory: “How come that in a regime you considered totalitarian you could freely (sic) produce anticommunist movies?” No author in no film proposed such an objective, in the first place because this would have been fatal for the workshop’s destiny, and, secondly, because the group members were simply preoccupied by the relevance of new audio-visual expression. Therefore, it was not about a cultural dissidence – all the dislike of the ki members towards the communist system taken into account – but a workshop open to young artists from various domains, and having the vocation of experiment upon cinematographic language. I accept the fact that, after an hour’s projection, a confusing reception effect, of a subtextual nature, was produced, in the sense that the global perception of the movies pregnantly revealed the suffocating climate of an oppressive regime.
For deontological and affective reasons, I would have liked to offer some information concerning the activity of the about 30 defectors and emigrants of the group, but, unfortunately, I do not have the necessary data, so that I will only refer to those who continued, one way or another, their artistic creation. A number of 14 ki members established themselves, during the ’70s – ’80s in California, around Los Angeles. Some of them continued or started their university education at UCLA – College of Fine Art, specializing in different fields, such as painting, graphics, design, cartoons, even experimental movie, producing, in the meantime and after graduation, works in different artistic genres, with which they have participated at exhibitions in the United States and Europe. From among them, Sergiu Onaga is the most constant and prolific, extremely talented in the field of modern painting, present in individual or collective exhibitions. I have learned that, lately, he is facing some display problems, due to the huge dimensions of his paintings, but, as far as I know him, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about an Onaga exhibition, with ten paintings simultaneously exhibited in ten different L. A. galleries… Daniel Motz – prolific, dynamic and prolix, by approaching several genres and techniques – artistic photography, acrylic, collage and mixed-media, with works exhibited in Los Angeles, Paris, München, Atlanta a. s. o. Ioan Ples is continuing his experiments with film and on video, is writing and publishing poetry in English in various American anthologies, and, knowing his overflowing creative capacity, I am looking forward to good news of his conversion to digital creation. Emanuel Tet, has made a short cartoon movie, entitled A Drama of the Baroque Recycling Center, which was selected and presented in 1995 at the Venice Mostra d’arte cinematografica din. Finally, across the Pacific, Valeriu C‚mpan, a graduate in movie image from the IATC [Institutul de Arta Teatrala si Cinematografica], is established in Melbourne, Australia, where he has a film-video studio, Athanor, and is teaching cinema courses at the local university. He is exhibiting art photographs and is present in documentary film festivals. The other kinema ikon ex-members in the United States, Canada and Europe continue, more or less successfully, the profession they practiced in their native country, or have converted to various other professions.
When I made reference to ‘deontological reasons’, I meant their courageous attitude in front of the Romanian Consulate in L. A. during the popular revolt in Timisoara, in December ’89, but also to the financial support granted by almost all of 14 to the ki workshop in two crises it faced. I put an end to this topic with the mention, which is an act of gratitude too, that, to the group, all the books and specialty reviews sent, before ’89 mainly by Mot, Onaga, Ples, Tet, and, afterwards, by Liliana T. T. counted enormously.
I have in front of me a synoptic table, classified by categories, of all the kinema ikon members: those abroad, already mentioned in the previous pages, and those in the country, where they have continued their activity in the cultural careers they were trained for. After December 1993, when the amiable separation of the ki workshop from its members belonging to the generation of the eighties took place, the latter continued the cultural and artistic activities they were best suited for. That is, they are creating visual works presented at national and international exhibitions, they are writing and editing literary texts, studies, essays and are publishing in outstanding cultural magazines. Thus, Ligia Holuta continues to publish poetry, is translating books from French literature, being also a fervent follower of Rudolf Steiner, and publishing the antroposophy review Sofianic. Mircea Mihaies published his first book, a study on Faulkner, after which several volumes of literary criticism and provocative essays followed – the book of failures, personal diary and suicide, the obsolete charm of old age a. s. o. – then, he is co-author of a postmodern novel and is also editor of the cultural magazine Orizont in Timisoara. Iosif Stroia continued to make graphic works, to illustrate publications and books, this too at the Poudique printing shop, he is running together with architect Ionel Nistor. After 2000, a radical stylistic change took place, his interest being shifted towards a sort of quasi-esoteric archetyplogy, based on Rosicrucian Cosmogony. Romulus Bucur, the only trace of the generation of the eighties, has published several books of poetry, is translating English language poets, is writing essays, literary criticism and teaches literary semiotics at the Transilvania University. Ovidiu Pecican has published novels, consistent history studies, and is a professor at the Cluj University. Alexandru Pecican, visual arts exhibitions and theatre performances staged as stage director. Viorel Simulov, painting exhibitions, book graphics and journalist. Ioan Galea, painting exhibitions and professor at the university. Ioan T. Morar has published several volumes of verse, and is an effervescent journalist at Academia Catavencu. Viorel Micota, has recently debuted as a novelist, and is the manufacturer of an excellent Romanian alcoholic drink. Stefan Neamtu, and his wife, Ana, are typographers, among others, of the Intermedia magazine too. Mihaela Pacurar, visual artist, and Doru Pacurar, stage painter at the local theatre – who produced together their son Mihai (Mitzu, stage painter with alternative artistic habits). Florin Didilescu, teacher of French and manager of the city’s public library. Ilona Mihaies, teacher of English and manager of the Open Society Foundation in Timisoara. Cristian Moisescu, when not an English teacher, mayor of the city. Florin Hornoiu, photographer and cameraman of the museum, is our workshop colleague. Valentin Constantin is running attorneys’ firm and is still having a passion for Rivarol, Wallace Stevens and Hans Hartung. Rodica Varganici is a painter and teaches at the Arts High school. Mircea Stanica, Emil Mihai Mucescu, Mihai Iacobina and Traian Rosculet are still working for different computer companies, while architects Emil Anghel and Ionel Vesa in architecture offices. Teachers Eva Bucur, Dorel Daraban and Marieta Selejan still stick to their teaching. Adrian Ostafi used to be a cameraman at a local television station, Mihai Frangopol owns an electronics company, Teodor Caciora and Adrian Diaconu are, for a long time, consecrated composers, Horia Santau is still participating in international cartoons exhibitions. Octavian Bora is the designer and manager of a private company. Mihai Dogaru, Marius Teohari and Viorel Marina are valuable instrumentalists of the local philharmonic, and, finally, Lazar Ciortea and Demian Sandru still take an interest in invention in the audio-visual field, but not limited to it. And so on, but in professions less connected with culture, the respective people being named in the previously mentioned list.
I could also tell a series of anecdotes connected more or less interesting situations, but I cannot appreciate their relevance for the correct perception of the climate in an atypical creative group, for two decades, within the context of a regime equally oppressive and ridiculous. And, after all, why should it be necessary for us to be correctly perceived... For instance, what can understand a young Western reader, or even an East European one, Romania included, if I tell them about some ki members’ participation in summer camps at the Mental Diseases Hospital at Gataia, where a renown psychiatrist, dr. Ricman, was organizing therapies based on artistic creation. For the group members, at that time, the occasion was fascinating, and they also could get an excuse for the compulsory military service. How relevant could be the relationship with the repressive organ, that is, the Securitate, which, to be correct, did not understand a thing from what was going on in the workshop, but was not able, either, to get inside information. Securitate officers knew but one, evil, thing – not to approve us any participation at exhibitions / festivals abroad. The Effect was, for the least frustrating, on a long term and with durable traces.
The bad luck of ki consisted in the fact of its activity during the most somber period of Romanian communism. The books the group members were publishing, and the visual works they were exhibiting we made with difficulty because of the ideological pressure. It is due to this state of things that all the satisfaction came in every Thursday meeting, a sort of liberation day, in a relatively privileged space, where the freedom of expression was granted. It is this climate which explains the obstinacy and pleasure invested by my young colleagues in producing tens of experimental movies for two decades.
Well, one can say, but, nevertheless, such movies were produced, perceived as somehow underground works. In this respect, the ki strategy towards the party and state authorities was as simple efficient. A small “sacrifice” collective has produced, during these twenty years, a number of 62 de documentary movies, of various themes, from ethnographical short-footages and portraits of prominent personalities, to topics in local cultural history. “Cleanly” made, without ideological compromise, these documentaries enjoyed appreciation at national festivals, being favorably commented in the cultural press, as well as in the Arad local newspapers, which puts us in a favorable light. The amount of film necessary for these productions was carefully processed, so that, for each documentary short-footage, an amount of film, sufficient for an experimental movie, remained, which explains the final equation: 62 documentaries and 62 experimental movies.
The kinema ikon workshop in Arad was the only group in Romania having produced, with a program, constantly and consistently individual experimental movies. Still respecting the rule of the context, I will briefly mention a few institutions and independent artistic personalities having made also experimental movies before 1989. Thus, in the Institute for Cinematography in Bucharest (IATC), some of the students made year or graduation projects of an experimental nature; among them, Ovidiu Bose Pastina, Mircea Danieluc, Dan Pita, Mircea Veroiu, Nicolae Caranfil, Stere Gulea, Nicolae Cabel, Relu Morariu, Radu Nicoara, and others. At the Anima-Film studio, some cinéastes having a visual arts training, such as Radu Igaszág, Olimpiu Bandalac and Zoltán Szilágyi have made experimental animation short-footages, appreciated by the critics, some of them participating at prestigious festivals such as the ones in Annesy and Oberhausen. The Documentary Movies Studio, less open to the idea of experiment, has nevertheless produced some works closer to the genre of the art essay, signed by directors Mirel Iliesiu, Slavomir Popovici, Nicolae Cabel and others, having always an outstanding soundtrack, made by Horia Murgu. In the unique setting of the Buftea Studio, the leaders of Romanian cinematography were not at all favorable to resorting to technical or formal experiment. The successful examples in this direction are so rare, that I do not remember but the Duminica la ora 6 [Saturday, at 6] movie, directed by Lucian Pintilie, who recidivated in Reconstituirea [Re-enactment] – transtrav, mise-en-abÓme, re-filming, etc.
The independents – literati, visual artists and some select members of certain ciné-clubs – made experimental movies in the ’70s and ’80s, such as Gelu Muresan, Cornel Dimitriu, Iosif Costinas, Emil Covaci, Adrian Otoiu, Adriana Simlovici, Vasile Moise, Nicolae Lengher, Viorel Micota, Lucian Ionica, Valentin Grancea and others.
A special category is represented by those visual artists which in the seventies and eighties have complementarily made recourse to the to the medium of film, producing 8 and 16 mm. short-footages, labeled as artists’ movies, and exemplarily described by art critic Magda C‚rneci as: “Movies produced with home made means, by visual artists, and centered upon the process character of the creative act, or recording esthetic actions of the happening / performance type, or, simply, emphasizing stages in the work’s creation”.
In this class can be inscribed the movies of group Sigma in Timisoara, having as main authors Constantin Flondor, Doru Tulcan and Stefan Bertalan. Then, Ion Grigorescu’s movies, an author equally consequent and prolific, who, besides, had his part as a cameraman in making the “artist’s movies” signed Geta Bratescu, Stefan Kancsura and Eugenia Popa. Extremely active in the field was too Wanda Mihuleac, and among the other artists having made two or three movies of this type, I mention Mircea Florian, Alexandru Chira, Serban Epure, Savel Cheptea, Florian Maxa and maybe others. Some of these works have been presented at memorable thematic exhibitions and enjoyed positive appreciation in the Arta magazine, under the signatures of outstanding art critics, such as Magda C‚rneci, Andrei Plesu and Calin Dan, and, after 1990, the movies were commented in synthetic studies by Alexandra Titu, Magda C‚rneci, Alex Leo Serban, Ion Bogdan Lefter / Gheorghe Craciun and, recently, Marilena Preda S‚nc.
If, about experimental movie in Romania before 1989, one can use the term of penury, then, as regards the domain of video as a medium, one can notice a total poverty.
Punctually, one single video-art work, in two modules was made – house pARTy 1, in 1987 and house pARTy 2, in 1988. In fact, it is a recording of performance events, made in the house of artists Nadina and Decebal Scriba, the participants being Calin Dan, Iosif Kiraly, Wanda Mihuleac, Andrei Oisteanu, Dan Stanciu, Teodor Graur and Dan Mihaltianu. I have heard, without having seen them, about some video-clips by Mircea Florian, Arimie Ailincai and Petru Rusu, at the 1986 exhibition, The Mirror-Space, organized by Wanda Mihuleac, an event at which the ki group was present through the projection of ten experimental movies, after which the exhibition was closed by an official order. The communist regime limited the access to the video medium and exerted a total interdiction upon copying machines, considering them as a danger to national security… This type of control and repression, practiced until the fall of the Wall of Berlin, is an explanation of the poverty in video-art works, as well as of the genre’s explosion after 1989, especially under the form of video-installation.
It is the place to succinctly mention the state of the art of computer graphics in Romania before 1989. On the international stage, the ’60s and ’70s have constituted a period of intense research into what was called the impact of digital technology upon art. Prestigious names and consecrated works of art, but especially worth mentioning international exhibitions, such as the first world exhibition of computer graphic, in 1965, at Howard Wise Gallery in New York, then the 1968 Cybernetic Serendipity in London, and the Stuttgart Impulse Computerart, in 1969. The latter was an itinerant one, so that I was able to see it in 1974 at the Goethe Institute in Bucharest, presented by Herbert W. Franke, who edited too a substantial catalog.
The same year, 1974, visual artist Florian Maxa presented a computer graphics work at the collective exhibition Art and Energy in Bucharest, and researcher Mihai Jalobeanu has an exhibition at the students’ House of culture in Cluj, exhibition I was able to see in may ’74 at the Alfa Gallery in Arad. Next, the same Mihai Jalobeanu is present with a personal exhibition, Computer Graphics, at the Galeria Noua in Bucharest, in January 1976, and, a month later, Florian Maxa has a new exhibition at the Eforie hall, entitled Metamorphoses. Other Romanian artists, interested rather in kinetic art, optical art and constructivism, but not lacking interest in the new digital technology were Adina Caloenescu, Serban Epure, Savel Cheptea, Cristian Bruteanu, Ileana Bratu, Francis Goebész and others, from university centers in Cluj and Bucharest.
Finally, at the Electronic Computing Center in Arad, whose director was no one else than mathematician Lucian Codreanu, one of the founders of the Timisoara Sigma group, a collective of young computer specialists having artistic interests, started producing at the beginning of the ’80s, in the workshop lead by mathematician Emil Giurgiu, computer-assisted graphical works. So that, in July 1985, an exhibition was organized with all these works, in the Forum gallery, under the title Art and Computer, starting controversies in the city’s artistic world, as well as inside the ki group, which had, at the time, among its members, at least two or three computer specialists, used as sound engineers or DJs, because the thing called computer couldn’t even be mentioned. The exhibition was accompanied by a pamphlet, where art critic Horia Medeleanu made a synthetic presentation, while the opening was made by artist Valentin Stache. The young artists were Mihai Sabaila, Stelian Porumb, Gheorghe Cheveresan, Sorin Gules and Traian Rosculet, the latter, becoming, after ’89, an active member of the ki group in its Mixed Media stage, and of the Conversatia [The Conversation] magazine, whose computerized layout he made, until its transformation in 1993.
All this frail practice of computer graphics in Romania before ’89 was preceded and accompanied by a few attempts of informing the potentially interested audience. Thus, in 1972 was published anthology edited by V. E.Masek, Estetica. Informatie. Programare [Aesthetics. Information. Programming], comprising important texts by A. Moles, M. Bense, H. Frank, S. Maser, K. Alsleben, but also Mihai Dinu, Cezar Radu, Stefan Niculescu, and others. In 1974 was translated Abraham Moles’ book, Arta si ordinator [Art and Computer], then, in 1982, Radu Bagdasar publishes a book, Informatica Mirabilis, with the subtitle Arta si Literatura de calculator [Computer Art and Literature]. The same year, edited by professor Solomon Marcus, is published the collective work Semiotica matematica a artelor vizuale [Mathematical Semiotics of Visual Arts], containing two substantial texts in the field of the computer – art relationship, namely, Mihai Jalobeanu, Imaginile, producerea si prelucrarea lor cu sistemele actuale de calcul [Images, their Production and Processing with today’s Computing Systems] and Mihai Brediceanu, Timpul polimodular Ón artele vizuale [Polimodular Time in Visual Arts].
I stop here the story of the two decades of experimental movie made by the kinema ikon group members, within the context of Romanian alternative art.


The Transitional Stage, 1990-1993:
Mixed-media, c.d.s.a. – the conversatia magazine, alternative art exhibitions.
At the end of 1989, the Berlin wall fell, and, together with it, the whole European communist system. A few days after the Timisoara revolt, more precisely, in the morning of 21st of December, the population of Arad too got out massively in the streets and in front of the City Hall, crying slogans against the regime. It was on a Thursday, when we should have celebrated, at the workshop, with our families and friends, Christmas. All the doors of the building were blocked, so that the group members integrated in the mass of the protesters.
Next Thursday, the group reunited in an almost complete formula, taking the decision that, on the structure of the kinema ikon workshop, to constitute a Club for Social Dialog (cdsa), following the Polish model. There were co-opted people from the legal sphere, economists, and other categories of intellectuals, which, together, promptly composed a statute, approved by the new authorities of the city. The main two objectives were the following: 1 – the editing of a publication expressing opinions, called Conversatia, and suggesting from the very title the idea of dialog with the then building civil society, 2 – granting legal and logistic assistance to the free trade-union movement, in its turn just taking form in the Arad enterprises and institutions.
At the same period we were contacted at the workshop, by Liliana Trandabur’s mediation, by a French non-governmental organization from Nancy, Association Nancéiènne d’Aide à la Roumanie (A.N.A.R), lead by Mr. Jean-Luc Rivière, which manifested the disposition to donate no more no less than an offset typography, with all the apparatus necessary for producing the publication. In less than two months, Mr. J-L Rivière, André Clavért and J. Morisson handed us the mentioned typography, so that the editorial and technical staff succeeded in launching the first issue of Conversatia on the 31st of March 1990.
The following months, my younger colleagues have lived an experience which, in cliché language, could be called “revolutionary effervescence”. It was an absolutely natural desire, as romantic as naive, of civic involvement in the radical changes undergone by Romanian society. They came back to reality in June, when the country’s capital was besieged by miners, while lumpens were shouting in the streets the slogan “we are working, not thinking”. The phenomenon of the ‘bums’ in the University Square and other “communism-free zones” in the country’s big cities were violently repressed, the barely re-founded political parties’ headquarters were devastated, and an “original democracy” was instated, as a prolonging of the unhappy idea of the human-faced communism. A long transition towards underdevelopment started...
The Conversatia lasted for 19 issues, until December 1993. During all this period, the president of the Club (cdsa) was professor Florin Didilescu, chief-editor of the magazine was poet and translator Ligia Holuta, the editorial board secretary was the tireless Liliana Trandabur, and members of the editorial board were Valentin Constantin, Roxana Chereches, Ioan Galea, Ovidiu Pecican, Ionel Nistor, Dumitru Marcus, Florin Didilescu, Alexandru Pecican, Judit Angel, Calin Man and Gheorghe Sabau. The design and layout belong to graphic artist Iosif O. Stroia, to whom the Arta magazine awarded a special prize for the artistic quality of the design. Most of the photographs were taken by Florin Hornoiu, the offset machine was operated by Remus Nica, the pungent cartoons were made by Horia Santau, Viorel Simulov was responsible for the layout and from the 13th number on Maria and Traian Rosculet took charge of the computerized layout, exemplarily achieved for that time, also with the support of B. B. Computer. The printery cdsa / Poudique run by Ionel Nistor and Bibi Stroia has ensured the first monthly, then, by the middle of the period, quarterly, and eventually biannual publication of the magazine. The printing-run has gradually decreased from 1000 to 500 and then 250 copies and instead of the price there was a slightly ostensibly inscription that read “collectors item”. Anyway, each issue came out with a poster conceived in turns by the group visual artists.
Most of the articles were written by the members of the editorial board, but each issue contained also investigations, interviews and opinions on up-to-date social, civic, political and cultural topics, from local and national personalities. We are talking about people such as Doina Cornea, Livius Cioc‚rlie, Mihail Sora, Serban Foarta, Luca Pitu, Sorin Antohi, Daniel Vighi, P. M. Bacanu, Stelian Tanase, Ioan Buduca, Radu Calin Cristea, Mircea Mihaies, Ion Muresan, Alexandru Vlad, Timotei Nadasan, Lászlóffy Aládar, Vasile Popovici, Iosif Costinas, George Serban, Alexandru Paleologu, Sorin Dumitrescu, Gabriel Andreescu, Horia Patrascu, Ticu Dumitrescu, Liviu Danceanu, Corin Braga, Calin Dan. Also, Lajos Nótáros, editor in chief of the Hungarian tongue daily newspaper Jelen, writers Vasile Dan and Gheorghe Mateut, actors Ovidiu Ghinita and Valentin Voicila, of which the latter is the indisputable leader of the Arad revolution, architect Dan Liviu Tudor, Ciprian Valcan and Emanuel Socaciu, the last two, at the time, still high-school students in the terminal year, stage director Radu Dinulescu, Ilie Stepan in dialog with Catalin Cristici, lawyer Silviu Ratiu, the first mayor of Arad after December ’89, Cristian Moisescu, ki member and the second mayor of Arad after ’89, Dan Demsea, Violeta Pecican, Radu Radoslav, and others. Interviews from Paris with Dumitru Tepeneag, Pascal Bruckner and playwright George Astalos made by Liliana Trandabur and Roxana Chereches, plus translations, fit for the moment, from Malaparte, Papini, Havel, Kundera, but R. Steiner too. To be added the various round tables with all trade-union leaders from the city’s companies and institutions.
I re-read carefully, and with detachment, all the texts published in the 19 issues of Conversatia at the beginning of the ’90s. It was a time when hundreds of new publications were issued, and the public would buy and read them with the avidity of a population waking up from the totalitarian system of the unique – one party, one leader, one leading newspaper, one single television, with two hours on the air etc. In this context informational explosion, the Conversatia magazine was rather an odd thing, but, anyway inciting for students and young intellectuals. Graphically, it looked like an avant-garde magazine from the ’20s, while the texts, no matter how much ‘anchored’ in of the moment’s everyday reality, no matter how adequately they reflected the climate of the beginning transition, these texts emanated moreover states of mind with an evidently esoteric flavor, being impeccably written by persons with actually other concerns than civic implication.
In this sense, the first editorial, written by Valentin Constantin in a moment of original inspiration is exemplary, in a premonitory way indicating what the magazine would become... “Conversation is distension, that is, tends to stabilization. It doesn’t resemble to discourse, to toast, to diatribe. Conversation simply depends on the people conversing. A bit more frivolous than dialog. Perhaps a bit more tolerant. It is not the emanation of their humors, but of their intelligence. If it is true, how is usually said, that absolute power is absolutely corrupting, one can easily imagine how a too sober or too virile a dialog reaches consensus, that is, totalitarianism. We dream that public spirit would not too soon return to its original sins: pathos, grandiloquence, bad taste. Conversation has, no doubt, enemies: brutal individuals, whom it gets bored and boring individuals, whom it transforms into boors. A self-respecting conversation does not take – perhaps but subsidiarily – act of the fools’ foolishness, but it makes often a case from the foolishness of the wise. And if dogmatism is the conversation’s aberration, wouldn’t be skepticism just its vocation?”
Despite the fact that, in the upsetting media landscape of the moment, the Conversatia was obviously out of the ranks, it was nevertheless sympathetically commented by daily newspapers and cultural publications. The colleagues from Contrapunct, Rom‚nia literara, Orizont, Adevarul, Rom‚nia libera etc. commented us consistently. Re-reading this comments, from the workshop’s archives, it was interesting to notice the way we were perceived… “Conversatia, with a splendid layout, a great experimental imaginativeness graphics, and with as witty, ironical and ludic texts as it goes, which pronounce radical civic opinions, remains nevertheless a publication to... look at, being truly a collector’s item, or, in other words, a happy artistic event...” and so on. Therefore, it was perceived more as a magazine belonging to the literary-artistic avant-garde, than one expressing sociopolitical militant attitudes, the way our friend J. -L. Rivière would have liked, giving as a constant example the NU [NO] publication from Cluj. And he was right.
As a certain compensation, during 1990 there fully functioned the approaches connected to the second objective of the Club, that is, legal and logistic assistance to the constituting trade-union movement. The peak of these actions was reached in the month of July of the same year, when an exceptional event took place. It is a dinner-debate at the restaurant of Parc hotel, attended by no less than 180 youth from France, members of the European Youth Union, seated in Paris, a delegation led by Ms. Roselyne Bachelot, deputy for Marne-Loire, and, from the organizing part, Anne Clérc, Vincent le Roux and M. Galopini. In fact, it was the final part of a Central-East European tour including Krakow, Budapest, Prague, Sarajevo, Dubrovnik and the town of Arad, as a consequence of the lobby made by the same tireless Jean-Luc Rivière. It was attended not only by the trade-union leaders already attested such as Lucian Lagsaghi, Ioan Rosca, Dorin Antonescu, Bognár Levente, Mariana Caprariu, Pavel Coste, Adrian Leahu , but also by representatives of national minorities too, such as Lajos Nótáros, Ioan Bakman, Miodrag Stoianov, Ionel Schlesinger, the editorial board of Conversatia, students, as well as the forty members of the Arad Club for Social Dialog. From among these, I mention lawyers Constantin PÓrlea , Ruxandra Burlacu, physician Emil Vancu, architect Dan Liviu Tudor, teachers Hugo Hauptmann, Cristiana Selejan, Emil Tigan, Gabriela Halle, Doina Lungu and part of the local mass-media. The debates continued until late at night, and the leadership of the French delegation deemed this as the most achieved meeting from the seven cities mentioned above, and that the Conversatia is a true model of civic involvement... Of course, they did not get but to leaf it.
At mid 1990, the kinema ikon workshop was integrated in the structure of the performing arts department of the Arad Art Museum, a change of location from which, I sincerely admit, I have taken advantage of in order to diminish the “civic involvement” momentum of the group members, in order to make them return to their previous preoccupations with experimental creation. I was truly worried by the lack of appetence of my younger colleagues towards the new media and even towards their own visual or literary creations, while transition took place with an annoying slowness.
The first “transplant” in the psycho-social gear of the mentioned involvement took place at the beginning of June 1992, when our colleague Judit Angel, art critic, and a personality with curatorial vocation, has organized in Arad two events I consider crucial: an exhibition at the Clio gallery of the Art Museum, made by contemporary art works purchased by the institution during the last years, that is, 21 graphic works, objects and installations, plus two artists presenting performance and other seven projecting video-art works. In parallel, it took place a discussion on the theme of The Art of the ’80s in Romania, in the hall of the ki workshop, actively attended by the artists present in the exhibition, art critics Adrian Guta, Luminita Batali, Horia Medeleanu, Maria Magdalena Crisan, Andrei Pintilie, and the ki group members. A happy coincidence made that, these two days, to be present in Arad three prestigious writers, members of the editorial board of the Brasov magazine Interval, namely, Alexandru Musina, Gheorghe Craciun and Caius Dobrescu, which, together with their colleagues from the Arca magazine, edited by poet Vasile Dan, have participated at the talks, in the good old tradition of interdisciplinary symposiums (image, interval...) in the ’80s. The exhibition was recorded on videotape, the colloquium discussions are recorded on audiocassettes, and the last issue of the Conversatia (16-17) has reflected the events on a few pages, under the sign of the green horse poster.
The short transitional stage after 1990 was quite confuse, and, especially, eclectic. And, for extra complications, some events will be found in the prolongation of the respective stage too. So that, for the sake of coherence, I will continue with those artistic and exhibitive approaches, in which the ki group took part, alternative approaches, but still analogical – the instrument called computer didn’t yet exist on the working tables from the kinema ikon workshop.
The same Judit Angel, in her multiple hypostases of art critic, museographer, ki member and curator, has organized, in September 1994, a national exhibition entitled ART unlimited s.r.l. [ where ‘s.r.l.’ stand for ltd.], with an obvious alternative cu circumscribing: object, installation, environment, performance, photograph, electrograph and video art. The works were exhibited / presented in several locations, such as the Art Museum, the Palace of Culture, covered spaces, inner yards, streets, parks disaffected buildings. Therefore, a number of 26 artists, including also three groups, have participated with an equal number of works, the event being consistently reflected in a Catalog made by the curator. Also, issue number three of the Intermedia magazine has integrally published the theoretical support of the works exhibited, with texts signed by Geta Bratescu, Andrei Oisteanu, Olimpiu Bandalac and Teodor Graur (Euroartist group), Újvárossy Lászlo, Bartha Sándor, Calin Dan (subREAL group), Alexandru Solomon, Roxana Trestioreanu, Matei Bejenaru, Liviana Dan, Mircea Stanescu, Radu Igaszág, Uto Gustav / Kónya Réka and Bob Jószef, while from Arad there were present with works Onisim Colta and Rudolf Kocsis.
From among the kinema ikon group members, have exhibited Calin Man and Caius Grozav. The former, with a work entitled O-zenee Ón cyberspatiul mioritic [UFOs in the mioritical cyberspace], installation, collage, photocopy, text galore, glass, a blocked computer, photo slides and some autumn potatoes; about all these, the curator explains in the catalog that “the exhibition space is transformed into one of the progressive narration of the text continuously re-writing itself”. Caius Grozav has participated with the work Almost noTHING – object / computer, canvas and cardboard, which, together, put in question the computer’s condition as a means of artistic expression, a topic not until this day clarified...
A year later, in June 1995, there was a second exhibition, INTER(n) – artistic interventions in urban space. Have participated eight visual artists, Matei Bejenaru, Sorin Vreme, Lia and Dan Perjovschi, Sándor Bartha, Calin Man, the subREAL group (Calin Dan and Iosif Király), which, in eight city locations, have effectively intervened upon the existing ambient, subjectively multiplying the perceptive perspectives of certain sites specific to Arad. The event was assisted and commented live by the critics present, that is, Alexandra Titu, Anca Oroveanu, Pavel Susara, Ileana Pintilie, Irina Cios, Mirela Dauceanu, Adrian Guta, and Gheoghe Vida. Issues seven and eight of the Intermedia magazine, as well as other cultural publications have iconographically and textually reflected the event’s route.
The kinema ikon workshop has participated with Calin Man’s work entitled Limérique Stampilierul [Limérique the Stampmaker], yet another one of the “identity lacking” names which populate the reVoltaire archive, this fictitious foundation of the author, about which the curator notes in the Catalog that “it is a ludic as well as absurd-ironic projection, because it proposes us the experience of reality as fiction, while this constitutes itself into a condition for achieving the utopia.”
Finally, the third curatorial exhibition by Judit Angel was entitled The Museum Complex, and it took place in the Arad Art Museum halls, in October 1996. There were presented video-installations, video art, photographs and textual installations by seven artists from Austria and six from Romania. There was edited a bicephalous Catalog, that is, in two volumes, both about the exhibition and the theoretical support project, but autonomously edited, a bit too autonomously, by Christian Kravagna and Judit Angel. With a coherent curatorial project, our colleague puts, without any complex, into discussion the actual condition of the museum as an institution in its ensemble, by its impact with the new forms of artistic expression. To a common visitor, having a linear and quiet route through the halls exhibiting the classical works of the museum, it was, probably, a real esthetic shock at the end of the route, when arriving in the space allotted to the alternative art exhibition. So that the respective impact has produced a reception effect, induced by the curator, from the Museum Complex as an institution name, towards the psychoanalytical “complex” towards the new creative means. Anyway, it resulted a puzzling esthetic cleavage, through a simple, eloquent, and percussive mise en scène of the works.
The kinema ikon group molded its style after the curator’s project, presenting in the exhibition the work Cavalerul din Carpati [The Knight from the Carpathians], produced by brainstorming by Romulus Bucur, Caius Grozav, Peter Hügel, Florin Hornoiu, Ioan Ciorba, Calin Man and Gheorghe Sabau. The media and exhibition configuration have functioned this way: the work was made on the computer, and transferred onto video-tape, whose content was broadcasted by cable television Intersat, daily, at the same hour. At the end of the broadcast, an insert suggested the audience not to miss visiting the exhibition. Let’s say the spectator was disposed to accept the suggestion, only that, arrived at the exhibition, he would discover the fact that, in a huge frame, there was a tiny label, with a text suggesting the viewer to watch the television broadcast in order to understand the way it was reconstructed the famous lost work… And so on, and so forth, in a loop. Therefore, it was an attempt to connect the museum’s (exhibition’s) space to the television network, by the textual-iconic vehiculating an imaginary referent, that is, a lost work of art, representing the Holy Grail, in which there were implied King Arthur, Christopher Columbus, Cuba Indians, Amerigo Vespucci, the Queen of Spain, the Saxon Prince, A Russian Soldier who chopped the work, Baron Neumann from Arad, Indiana Jones, and especially the Pumnipher Knight, who rediscovered the work in Transilvania, so that the five fragments got into the databank in the Arad museum’s store, offering the ki group the possibility of its digital reconstruction. Therefore, an everyday accident, or, as Judit writes in the Catalog, “taking seriously the call for intervention in dislocating the museum’s isolation, kinema ikon has responded in its style, by a communicational game, whose rules are offered from an equally ludic and (auto)ironical perspective.”
In the same period there were organized in Bucharest four annual exhibitions of the Soros Center for Contemporary Art (CSAC, later on, CIAC), supervised by art critic and curator Calin Dan. Due to the financial and logistic support of the respective foundation, it took place in Romania an unprecedented development of what is called alternative art: video-installations, video art, photo-installations, performance, environment, etc.
The kinema ikon group took part in all these events with analogical works, for the simple reason that, on one hand, we didn’t have yet digital technology, and, on the other, we understood it was necessary the group’s reconnecting to the alternative system of Romanian art, against all our lack of appetence for the dominant tendency of flourishing militancy.
The first CSAC exhibition was organized at the Dalles hall in November-December 1993, under the heading of Ex Oriente Lux – the Romanian week of video art. There were invited prestigious artists, curators and theorists from France, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Hungary, United States, and Romania, who participated actively, with conferences and seminars, exemplifying their opinions with projections of reference works. The names of these honor guests are Margaret Morse, Kathy Rae Huffman, Nina Czeglédy, Martine Bour, Suzanne Mészöly, Dieter Daniels, Keiko Sei, Geert Lovink, Laszló Béke, and others.
The exhibition proper comprised ten video-installations made after 1990 by young Romanian artists. From the event, there remained a video recording, a consistent Catalog, from the iconic and textual point of view, as well as the last issue of the Arta magazine. In the same publication one can read six pages of presentation of the kinema ikon workshop, a group which opened the exhibition, by the projection of ten experimental movies, immediately after the opening speech of the foundation’s president, Mr. Andrei Plesu, did not forget to mention the group’s experimental approaches before ’89. Anyway, for a lot of young artists, students, and foreign participants, the reception of the movies took place under the sign of perplexity, when discovering that, during the old regime, there were made such works, in synchrony with what was being made in the West in the same period of time.
The second CSAC exhibition had the premonitory title of 01010101 and took place in several halls in the Romanian Peasant Museum, in November 1994, having as a main theme Artistic Discourse– a Reflex of Community’s Problems. It was a communicational event, by phone, fax, e-mail (!) from Arad, Brasov, locations in Bucharest, Iasi, Oradea, the Tauseni-Cluj village, and Zalau. For two days, there were organized conferences and round tables, having as main topic, Censorship – a Virus in the New Media Landscape, with prestigious international participation such as, Tijmen van Grootheest, Judit Kooper, Antoni Muntadas, Alfred Rotert, Fred Forest, Phil Niblock, Geert Lovink and Andreas Broeckmann, the last two also as promoters of what is called New Media in Eastern Europe, through the V2-East / Syndicate organization in Rotterdam.
There were 16 Romanian artists exhibiting alternative art works, and, among them, the kinema ikon group, whose project, Randevuul [The Rendezvous] was constructed through the contribution of Calin Man, Caius Grozav, Liliana Trandabur, Romulus Bucur, Judit Angel, together with Sándor Bartha, Gheorghe Sabau and computer specialist Mihai Iacobina. From the dossier-pamphlet it resulted it was a mixed-media work: computer, e-mail, fax, photographs, video recordings, Bundeswher waistcoats, 14 jars of Nutella, 14 disposable teaspoons, 200 plastic bags with inscriptions on them and the proofs of the Intermedia magazine. The atypical identification discourse, proposed by the curator, was produced by the direct participation of the ki group members, with heaps of the Intermedia magazine, in the following minority and marginal environments: the flea-market (known by Arad people as Ocika), the agricultural products shop Arlefruct, the Cosmos second-hand clothing shop, specialized in recycled waistcoats of the German army, plus a lamentably failed attempt in the gipsy neighborhood Kekeci; only the Nutella was consumed in non-marginal locations, namely, at the Muzeul Taranului Rom‚n and the ki workshop. To be mentioned that Judit Angel was just preparing the opening of the Art Unlimited exhibition in Arad, so that this one became, in its turn, a theme of the critical comment.
Issue number two of the Intermedia was entirely dedicated to the 010101 exhibition, constituting, together with the dossier of the Randevuul, exhibits at the scene of crime. A video-tape, made by the organizers, can be consulted, as well as a massive, in all meanings of the term, Catalog, where can be also found eight pages dedicated to the Randevuul work, or, more exactly, to the process of its realizing.
The third CSAC exhibition, with a new director of the institution, in the person of Irina Cios, and having as curator Aurelia Mocanu, both art critics with a curatorial vocation, was the MEdiA CULPA exhibition, under the heading of the perturbative artistic discourse of the conditioning through the mass-media. So that, in November 1995, in the halls of the Bucharest Institute of Architecture, there were exhibited 12 alternative artistic projects, selected by an international jury. There were also conferences, documentary projections and debates on the MediAtor theme, held by artists, art critics and media theorists from France, Spain, United States, Romania, Great Britain, and Netherlands, prestigious personalities from the field of the art – media relationship, such as Kristine Stiles, Geert Lovink, Nancy Buchanan, Valentin Torrens, Eddie Shanken, and Romanian specialists.
The kinema ikon group has presented the Ready Media work, made, according to the tradition of the house, through brainstorming by Calin Man, Caius Grozav, Peter Hügel, Liliana Trandabur, Judit Angel and Gheorghe Sabau, with the collaboration of Mihai Iacobina, and Ioan Ciorba. We called the work “media installation”, and it was defined onto a dual medium, that is, a video-tape on which there were selected sequences from the national TV station news broadcasts, as a model of action, passion and mainly manipulation of public opinion. On a CD-ROM we have put it in context, by an iconic / ironic comment, manipulating and deconstructing in our turn the clichés and standards of a television enslaved to political power. Structurally and functionally, the two monitors were set face to face, reflecting each other through a system of mirrors joined under a certain angle. A young and incisive art critic was right to state that the ki work was explicit to tautology in visually expressing the truism of “manipulation through TV”. It was even didactical. Finally, the background of the display was wallpapered with posters, representing green horses [an approximate Romanian equivalent for ‘mare’s nest’] and, for the visitors, there was a five liters bottle with a small pump, on which stood written Johnnie Walker, but which, actually, contained ‘Tzuika by Turtz –two time rotated, distilled in Transylvania’ [the dialectal term for distillation being, in the Western Carpathians area, the equivalent of to turn, to rotate]. This alcoholic installation was quickly set up by the audience, immediately after Mr. George Soros’ leaving, he having missed the signification, and, especially, the taste.
I make the mention that the mentioned CD ROM constituted the first ki work whose production was based on a computer program, conceived by computer specialist Caius Grozav. Being, nevertheless, presented in a predominantly analogical context, we decided together to attribute it number zero.
The fourth annual CSAC-organized exhibition was entitled EXPERIMENT – interferences & prospections in art Romanian art in the ’60s – ’90s, having place in the ¾ gallery of the Bucharest National Theatre, by the co-operation of the Artexpo foundation, administered by Mihai Oroveanu, between the 18th – 29th of November, 1996. The exhibition’s curator was art critic and historian Alexandra Titu, assisted by a collective of specialists, and with the support of prestigious institutions. It was “the first exhibition having proposed a historical reconstruction of the most dynamic area of contemporary Romanian art from the experimentalist attitude perspective”. To be mentioned that this prospection followed at close distance after another retrospective exhibition, having as theme Romanian AVANT-GARDE in the ’20s –’30s, under the curatorship of Magda C‚rneci and architect Andrei Beldiman. So that the two events can also be interpreted as joint approaches under the sign of artistic experiment. Returning to the 1996 exhibition, it was structured into two sections, a documentary one, with a strictly historical character, and a contemporary one, with intermedia projects. There were included, together with visual arts, theatre performances, contemporary music concerts, performance programs, a cinematography workshop, one of contemporary dance and a symposium on experiment in literature. Conferences, round tables, projections and public debates, all synthetically gathered into a complex and consistent Catalog, which remains a reference document for artists and researches.
The space allotted to the kinema ikon group – the documentary section, and the intermedia one – was structured into three components: to the viewer’s left, on a screen, there were projected sequences, selected and edited, from the 62 experimental movies made between 1970 and 1989. On the next stand, there were exhibited stills from the respective movies and explanatory texts on the ki-organized events – symposiums, exhibitions and joyful parties. In the stand’s center, the mixed media (1990-1993) was marked, with the works mentioned in this very segment, the Conversatia covers included. To the viewer’s right there were exhibited Intermedia covers, and, finally, a computer, on whose screen it could be interactively accessed by viewers – from now on, users, the first hypermedia digital work on CD ROM, bearing this very title, Opera Prima. But, with this, we are entering the third stage of the ki group history, a stage we consider Hypermedia – from 1994 through 2005, and on...


The Hypermedia Stage, 1994 –
This stage, which, look, lasts for more than ten years, will be more succinctly treated, because the following segment of the catalog will present in detail, predominantly in an iconic way, but also as text, all of the kinema ikon group’s projects, from the moment of resorting to the creative potential of the new digital technologies.
As already noted, in December ’93, at a group meeting, it was established – I admit having a bit forced things – the workshop’s conversion to digital creation. There responded positively but seven components from the younger generation, but there were also attracted other seven, equally young, designers, graphic artists, and, especially computer specialists. Two were the reasons of this change of direction. On one hand, the “pressure” exerted by some of our colleagues, touched by the virus of the digital. On the other hand, as a consequence of the twenty days spent at the Espace Vidéo in Beaubourg, impeccably organized by Christine van Assche, I became convinced that alternative media centered on the video were somehow “exhausted”, while the digital medium made its strong entrance, being totally fit for the idea of interdisciplinary experimental creation, specific to the kinema ikon group.
So that, starting from January 1994, the small ki group, continuing its projects within the structure of the Arad Art Museum, has started a new stage we called Hypermedia, with two main objectives: 1 – producing exclusively digital works, that is, hypermedia works, on the corresponding supports, CD ROM, internet and interactive installations, individual group works; 2 – publishing a magazine entitled Intermedia, with periodical apparition, function of the de events, in offset format, on CD, and on the internet, within the ki web page.
The reconversion of competence took place extremely fast, due too to the contribution of the group’s computer specialists, but it was impossible to immediately produce digital works, so that we started with the computer layout of the Intermedia magazine.
The first group work exclusively digitally made on CD ROM was called Opera Prima, being produced in 1996, and presented publicly during the same year, at the Bucharest Experiment exhibition. A year later, the same work was selected at the European Media Art Festival (EMAF) in Osnabrück, Germany, with the following note in the Catalog published by the organizers: “Experiment with texts, sounds, videos and good sense of humor...” it is an autonomous digital work, which can also be considered an electronic edition of the Intermedia magazine (10-1996). It was made by brainstorming, onto the basis of eight individual works, having the following titles: Écran / Screen by Gheorghe Sabau, reVoltaire by Calin Man, ArtMuseumArad by Judit Angel, Historia Rerum by Peter Hügel, Domotique by Mitzi Kapture a.k.a. Roxana Chereches, Ditty by Romulus Bucur, Pataphisique by Liliana Trandabur, Himera by Caius Grozav, who made also the Delphi programming, sound by Ioan Ciorba, mastering by Mihai Iacobina, and media design by Calin Man. So, kinetic images, graphical configurations, anamorphoses, digitally processed natural sounds, and multilingual writing are offered to the user predisposed to an interactive exercise, conform to the hypertextual method. The content is deliberately eclectic, with iconic references to expression stereotypes in the field of contemporary artistic discourse, confirming older ludic tendencies of the group, but on a new enouncing support.
In the spring of 1997, a group of young researchers, lead by media theorist Stephen Kovats from the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, have made a tour in Central-Eastern Europe, with a view of selecting some New-Media works for The International Electronic Media Forum, in November, the same year. The forum, having reached its a third edition, was named OSTranenie, a pun combining the literary device described by Viktor Shklovski Ón 1916, respectively, ostranenie ‘defamiliarization’, and the OST vocable, in German, ‘East’, given the interest for such approaches in the post communist eastern Europe. Following their visit to the kinema ikon workshop, the bauhausers have seen / heard / read all we have produced until then, and have decided, through the international selection committee, that we participate at the Bauhaus forum with our digital work Opera Prima, presented to the public and specialists by Caius Grozav, the author of the program. He offered, as a preview bonus, the new CD ROM, Commedia del Multimedia, and in the forum’s consistent Catalog, we had the surprise of finding we were placed in the first chapter, Pioneers, which was flattering, honoring, but also a bit exaggerated...
The second digital group work on CD ROM was made by kinema ikon in 1997, with the title Commedia del Multimedia. Like the previous one, it can be considered too as an electronic version of the Intermedia magazine – 11 / 97. The composition and functional structure were made by brainstorming, starting from eight individual works, entitled, respectively: Test of Imaginary by Gheorghe Sabau, Livre de bookate by Calin Man, Through the Looking Glass by Romulus Bucur, Alice in the Museum by Judit Angel, Morphbeat by Ioan Ciorba, Archaeograffiti by Peter Hügel, La fussilade by Mitzi Kapture, Le consommateur jéttable by Liliana Trandabur-Torchet, and Alternative Escape by Caius Grozav, who also made the programming; the mastering was made by Mihai Iacobina, sound engineer was de Ioan Ciorba, and Calin Man has produced the media-design.
From the point of view of the form of expression, specialists have noted in Commedia del Multimedia the absence of any inhibition when facing new technologies, a sort of digital unleashing of an overflowing imagery, revealing a world made of inexistent entities, geared into quasi-manipulable adventures. The mythological referent of the Labyrinth was prefigured in a ludic register, by digitally processing scanned everyday objects, but also by creating synthetic images by means of which the authors have staged digital variations to the theme of the labyrinth. Variations open to improvisation, as in the times of commedia dell’arte, only that, now, the procedure is called interactivity.
After the unofficial presentation at the Bauhaus, the work Commedia del Multimedia was selected, in May 1998, for the International Festival for Film, Video and New Media (VIPER) in Lucerne, Switzerland, at the Digital Works of Art / CD ROM journals section, selection made by Kathy Rae Huffman, media theorist. In September, the same work participated at International Symposium of Electronic Art / ISEA ’98 – Revolution / organized together with John Moores University in Liverpool. The work was presented by programmer Caius Grozav in the Digital Aesthetics section, coordinated by Michelle Wardle. An extract from the Catalog: “The new experimental hypermedia works are characterized by a ludic-ironic treatment of the content and the expression forms”. Concomitantly, it was also exhibited the work by Calin Man, Locomotion Picture, “using the pretext of Zenon’s paradoxes, a hommage to Black Maria Studio is paid”. Finally, the work was exhibited too at the International Center for Contemporary Art (CIAC) in Bucharest, in 1999, within the context of a program e presenting artists and groups in Romania using the new digital technologies.
Before mentioning the next group digital works, I would like to succinctly present a few multimedia events the kinema ikon members were invited to attend. Thus, in December 1997, it took place at the DNT headquarters in Cluj a symposium / workshop under the heading of “Structures and Strategies in Developing Multimedia: on-line and off-line”, organized by Irina Cios, with the assistance of Mirela Dauceanu and Ileana Savu from the CSAC. It enjoyed the participation of over 50 artists and researchers in the field of electronic art, as well as students in the Multimedia departments of Art Universities from Romania. There were invited prestigious personalities from abroad, such as Roy Ascott, director at CaiiA, who presented a theoretical exposition, with examples on the computer, Mind on-line: Technoetic aspect of Multimedia. Then, Kathy Rae Huffman, freelance media theorist, with her presentation, Cyber Intimacy; Melentie Pandilovski from Skopje, Macedonia, Katy Geber from Canada, and Calin Dan, media artist, residing in Amsterdam. Therefore, video projection, CD ROM access, web projects, demonstrations and conferences, made by Romanian participants too; among them, Roxana Trestioreanu, Olimpiu Bandalac, Alexandru Patatics, Marilena Preda S‚nc, Sorin Vreme, Maria Rus Bojan, Neil Coltofeanu, Florian Maxa, Emil Bojin and Anca Oroveanu, who moderated the final seminar, Perspectives in Developing Multimedia Art in Romania. On this symposium consistently and appreciatively wrote also Kathy Rae Huffman in Telepolis Magazine for Net Culture, mentioning too the kinema ikon participation through a theoretical text presented by Gheorghe Sabau, and the presentation of the Commedia del Multimedia work, made by Caius Grozav, in the excellent technical conditions ensured by the de organizers.
Another important multimedia event with ki participation was the international seminar, Timing Art – Filtering Art, organized by CIAC together with the Bucharest Art University in April 2000. The main theme: the old-media / new-media relationship from the perspective of the influence of the new technologies upon culture and society. Again, prestigious participants from abroad, artists and art critics from Romania. The ki Contribution, through the undersigned, consisted in a taxonomic text, proposing, with arguments, an operational tripartite distinction: traditional media (painting, sculpture, graphics, etc.), old-media, namely, photo, film, video, TV, and new-media, that is, digital technology as a new creative means.
Finally, a less common situation. The Secolul 20 magazine, one of the European Romanian publications, has proposed to the kinema ikon group collaboration for issue number 4-9 / 2000, having as theme Gutenberg. Computer. Internet. So that the illustration was realized by Calin Man, with images taken from ki works, while the undersigned wrote a synthetic text entitled Digital Art and Viceversa. Anyway, an atypical issue for the classical style of the publication, and we suppose that the idea of our collaboration is due, to a great extent, to the artistic director, Ms.Geta Bratescu, an exceptional artist, often on the same wavelength with ki members, and to a mutual predilection, confirmed for a long time. The magazine’s director was Stefan Augustin-Doinas, chief-editor, Ms. Alina Ledeanu, and responsible for the issue, Ms. Ana TabÓrca.
A special event with kinema ikon participation was ISEA 2000 Paris – Revelation. That is, the tenth edition International Symposium of Electronic Art, under the heading Revelation, taking place in twenty locations in Paris – from the Forum des Images to Université Paris 8, and from IRCAM / Beabourg to all the others. Organized by the ISEA, in co-operation with ART 3000, the symposium has put in discussion all visual, acoustic, and performing arts, in their relationships with the new digital technologies. It was inciting to directly perceive the tendencies in the field of digital creation, after a ten-year wander, in which certain formats and supports have dominated the exhibition scene. Thus, I have noticed a decrease of interest in digital installations and CD ROM support, concomitantly with an increase of a artists’ / curators’ interest in the acoustic-musical dimension, in dance, combined with performance, all under digital control, but mostly an overflowing increase of interest for the telematic format of the Internet – net works, net.art, web art, etc. The kinema ikon has participated, after a selection made by an international jury, with two individual works – a theoretical text, signed and presented by Gheorghe Sabau, in the Auditorium of Forum des Images, entitled, What are Young Pixels Dreaming of, within the Medium et Media section, moderated by Florent Aziosmanoff. Then, a hypermedia work by Calin Man, Esoth Eric, off-line / on-line project, presented at the gallery forum’s, within the CD-ROM and internet site selection.
In 2001, it was started the third group project, under the heading of alteridem.exe, realized in two distinct stages: during the first, there were produced eight individual works, with the following titles – Safarikon. the setup, by Peter Hügel, Melting pot à porter, by Gheorghe Sabau, Walter Ego. in full swing, by Calin Man, Robotz Air Hockey, by Caius Grozav, Peripatetic sitting on, by Roxana Chereches, Globus Globber, by Judit Angel and Sandor Bartha, RGB, by Ioan Ciorba and A treat(y) on / of cat, by Romulus Bucur. At mid 2002, based on the eight individual works, it was finalized the process of producing the collective work alteridem.exe, resorting again to combinatorial strategies induced through brainstorming. The media design was made by Calin Man, and the programming, by computer specialist Alin Gherman.
By the concept / title of alteridem.exe, we have undertaken, in group, a digital discourse upon some of the conceptual obsessions insistently and annoyingly haunting the mundane space in which we happen to live. That is, globalism, multiculturalism, nomadism, imagology, and the pressure of ideological systems of flattening specific differences. The common denominator of all these conceptual routes is represented by the alterity-identity binomial, whence the very title.
The group project had also the objective of underlying some of the functioning principles of digital creation, such as the individual author –collective author, designer – programmer, initiating author – user relationship. As multimedia application, the work was conceived for all the three types of support – CD-ROM, internet and digital installation. The sub specie ludi reception state is the result of practicing a tectonics of proximity, resorting to semiotic operations such as vicinity, joining, repetition, recurrence, entourage, overlapping, metamorphosis, incrustation, agglutination, and so on. This amalgam of dynamical and versatile chronotopes put to serve a rhizomatically narrated fiction, induces the user an inciting climate, provoking and open to interactive interventions.
In November 2002, the kinema ikon group has organized a symposium / exhibition of national scope, with the theme Is it or not the digital system (also) a new device of (artistic) creation? The event was produced in partnership with the Arad Cultural Center, with logistic support from eta-2u computers, in the Art Museum location and with a generous funding from the Pro-Helvetia foundation. There were invited art critics and young artists, interested in the phenomenon of creation by the new digital technologies: Irina Cios from CIAC, Raluca Velisar from MNAC, Attila Tordai / the Balkon magazine, Adela Vaetisi / the Arhitext magazine, Ileana Pintilie from the Timisoara Art Museum, Calin Dan, media theorist from Amsterdam, and media artists Alexandru Patatics / the Format foundation, Alexandru Antik with computer specialist Stefan Dragos from Cluj, Catalin Berescu / the Virtualia group, Olimpiu Bandalac, Felix Dragan from Iasi, Sándor Bartha from Budapest, Dan Ursachi, Neil Coltofeanu from the Bucharest Art University, Cosmin Nasui and Mihai Tarmure, at the time constituting the Alpha Channel Lost Frame Surfers.
The alteridem.exe was exhibited in this conclave of maximal competence for the year 2000’s Romania, as an interactive digital installation. The connection between the symposium’s theme and the ki work was made naturally through the contradictory discussions generated by the individual author – collective author relationship sub-theme, an actuality topic in the frame of theoretical debates on the paternity of the digital work. Different opinions were held upon the gradual character of the interactive approach, upon the risk of the author’s disappearance, and upon the connotative confusion due to some terms’ synonymy. Anyway, there was reached no agreement regarding the status of the person who can dispose of the ability of discerning, in a collective work, which is the correct rapport of the “authorial distribution”. As regards the answer to the question proposed as the symposium’s theme, “is it or not the digital system (also) a new device of (artistic) creation?” the answer was postponed, for lack of consensus, until the next edition...
The 17 / 2002 issue of the Intermedia magazine was structured as a Catalog of the event, comprising frames from the works presented by the invited artists, from the alteridem.exe work, images of the symposium participants and critical / theoretical texts by almost all the invited participants, and by ki members. There have been positive reactions in the local press, and in specialized publications, such as Artelier, Observator cultural, the Balkon magazine, with a text by Adela Vaetisi, and Arhitext, where Raluca Dumitru resumes the interviews broadcasted by Radio Romania Cultural. Finally, in the international magazine Leonardo, analyst Rob Harle exemplarily synthesizes the symposium’s data, based on the materials published in the Intermedia, with an eloquent final comment, “exciting and inspiring”.
In the context of a national selection of New-Media productions, the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC) has organized at the Kalinderu MediaLab the Preview exhibition, where the ki work, alteridem.exe was also presented, together with Esoth Eric by Calin Man, who just had received, from Köln, The Java Artist of the Year Awards for 2002, for the whole reVoltaire archive.
Taking all in all, the young staff at MNAC has proposed that, at the Romanian pavilion at the 2003 Venice Art Biennial, to be exhibited the multi-modular installation alteridem.exe_2 of the kinema ikon group, together with the Esoth Eric and net.art_kit works by Calin Man, who was also officially appointed as the exhibition’s commissary / curator. He had the assistance of two young art critics, Raluca Velisar and Adela Vaetisi. During the four month, the Biennial’s duration, the curator was also assisted by Tiron Stefan and Mihnea Mircan. The Romanian exhibitional project was supervised by art critic Ruxandra Balaci, artistic director of MNAC.
In the catalog’s next segment, we will give iconic and textual details of the Venice Biennial participation with the alteridem.exe_2 work. Besides, there is a consistent Venetian catalog; these are the two reasons for which I will limit myself to just a few synthetic considerations.
So, alteridem.exe_2, interactive hypermedia installation by calin man and the kinema ikon group were structured into three modules: 1. Esoth Eric by calin man, 2. alteridem.exe, collective kinema ikon work and 3. net.art_kit by calin man. About module two, I have sufficiently written in the lines above, being necessary just some brief data about the other two modules signed calin man. Thus, the hypermedia application Esoth Eric is one with the antiEsoth Eric project, which, together, are component parts of the meta-work called by the author the reVoltaire archive, conceived as a work in progress, including several digital works, off and on-line. The functioning structure of the two applications is based on the result of an equation whose results have been a priori established by the author. The equation’s elements comprise the biographemes of imaginary characters, circulating in a random frenzy through the reVoltaire archive’s configuration. The off / on-line net.art_kit project constitutes too a part of the mentioned archive, this being the reason for which the author calls his digital narratives web site stories, with double accessing possibility, including also reVoltaire in Venietzsche. This last address was updated during the Venice Biennial, according to the visitors’ reactions or occasioned by abrupt interventions of some characters in the archive, such as Vaporetto Papavero and Anghemacht Frei. All narrative cores are non-sequentially structured, and the approach to the topics is treated in a pataphysical key, understood as science of imaginary solutions.
It is the place where I have to inset an evaluation of our colleague Calin Man, whose important part, within the context of the workshop, is not limited at the decisive contribution in constituting a kinema ikon climate and style, by his posture of media-designer for collective works or the Intermedia magazine. He also is, in the same time, the most productive creator, being the author of eight hypermedia works, off and on-line, with which he has participated at the most important digital creation international exhibitions, at which it is to be added the purchase of his work The Golden Virus by the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Between the initial project and the multi-modular final work, a cleavage conceptual took place, due to the difficulty of staging together in the Venice pavilion a group work and two individual works. Naturally, there existed the common theme of the alterity-identity relationship, and there also were functioning the common stylistic marks, such as experimental, eclectic, ironic, paradoxical, rhizomatic and ludic forms of expression, at which can be added the predilection for a chimerical imagery, often overflowing, and having as a common denominator calin man’s graphical mark and the programming algorithm, with interactive valences proposed by Alin Gherman.
But all this was not enough for inducing the user the idea of a work unitary, with an obvious message. So that, discerning a unique signification was simply impossible, because we were facing multiple meanings, constituted as variations on a given theme date in the context of a hypermedia installation. Variations of the kinema ikon group members, variations of the creator calin man, and variations open to the users through interactive interventions.
The global reception of the alteridem.exe_2 work at the la Venice Biennial has constituted for the ki group members an inciting experience, confirming certain previous suppositions. From among the tens of thousands visitors, during the four months of the exhibition, the reception range went from disinterest and perplexity, to the new type of receiver / user, which ceased to be a passive / contemplative one, but an inter / active one. This aspect of the impact with the work was also reflected in the press dossier, from which it results that only the artists, critics, and theorists specialized in the field of digital creation have appreciated the intrinsic qualities of the work. Thus, there were remarked the insolitous contextual relationships of a phantasmal and paradoxical universe, where the transgression of regnums and genres is taking place through digital creation specific operations.
The most recent work group produced at kinema ikon (2005) is entitled Hymera, being programmed for the telematic support of the Internet, that is, a Net Work.
From the beginning of the ’90s up to now, numerous texts were published referring to the specific marks of digital creation on the Net, and it is not the case to re-approach them, not even as a summary, because the essential data of the respective theme remained unchanged, specialized terminology included: Hypertext, Hypermedia, Hyperlink, Database, Interface, Interactivity , and, of course, Internet, WWW, Net, Web, HTML etc. etc. With application to creation artistic, there are in use the Internet Art, Web-Art, net.art and Net Works phrases; I prefer the last one, because includes all the others, and does not entail a compulsory, by all means, artistic character. Therefore, I am speaking about the creation of digital objects and events on the Net.
The main modality of producing Net Works is that of collective creation, or, according to some other theorists, participative, collaborative, distributive creation etc. Artists / players can live in different countries, even on different continents, accepting as a starting point a project / concept / thematic contents, usually initiated by one of them. From the surrealist cadavres exquis to the oulipo experiments, and hence to the hypertextual method, the topic of the collective work stirred a lot of controversy regarding the paternity of such a work. Discerning the contribution in producing a digital collective work was exemplarily expressed by Ray Ascott in the distributed authorship phrase. This entails that an artist (a group, in the case of ki) has undertaken the role of creator of context, a context offered to partners who are willing to integrate in the interactive strategic game of realizing a digital work in progress on the Net. As it was already remarked, this model of shared works stimulates a sort of creativity called by Derick de Kerckhove “conectedness or webness, as an essence of any type of Net work“, through hypertextual links between data and contents, thus connecting the participants’ associative imagination.
Until the year when the Hymera was produced, kinema ikon members did not take part in realizing such collective works projects in the way described above. We did not participate as a group entity, but, individually, the exception is Calin Man, co-author of notable international works, among which File shared works, initiated by Paula Perissinotto from Sao Paolo, and the Remembering – Repressing – Forgetting project, a true model of the genre, proposed by Agicola de Cologne, obviously, from Köln / Cologne.
The kinema ikon workshop non-participation in this type of Net collective works was motivated by the fear of multiplying the participants and levels of creation to such an extent that it would have perturbed the creative process, inevitably leading to a total dissemination of the work’s paternity... It is the place to be reminded that the strategy practiced by kinema ikon for producing digital works (on CD ROM and interactive installation) presupposes, chronologically, three levels: several individual works, having a common theme are combined into a group work by brainstorming, and, on level three, interactively comes Mr. User. Applying this strategy for producing a digital work on the Net, in co-operation with other artists – or, worse – other groups of creators, would have confronted the user with so many participative levels, that it had left for him but the passive audience role, thus annihilating the interactive character specific for Net Works...
This is the way we thought until 2004, when members of the kinema ikon workshop have given up the unhappy idea of protecting the user [sic], undertaking the risk of making a digital net work, for which the ki group is “context creator” – equally open to other creators, groups, and users willing to interactively participate in developing a project which can be considered chimerical – in the adjectival meaning of the term.
The theme synthetically circumscribes the ki opera omnia– experimental movie, mixed media, and especially hypermedia, having as a directing core the ancient concept of Hymera. In this respect, if I were to choose a Muse for the universe of pixels generally, and for the Net as a medium especially, my option would be HYMERA / Khimaira / Chimarea / Chimère – Chimaera, etc., with the Cartesian meaning of “inexistent being made of parts of existent beings”. This imposes resorting to operations such as hybridization, do-it-yourself, recycling, melting pot, metamorphosis, incrustation, and especially the fundamental stylistic mark of agglutination, which, from the perspective of the perception pathology, presupposes “unifying into a new image of fragments of objects and beings...” Equally, there can be chimerized-agglutinated situations, events, structures, and, why not, authorial projects on the Net. There can be thus created digital chimeras, that is immaterial, unreal, and fictitious objects, a real data bank constituted by inexistent entities, or, otherwise phrased, without a referent in the material reality, objectless, “parachrematic.“ entities.
These unwonted forms of expression – treated as minimal units– can, in their turn, be permuted and combined in quasi-narrative configurations, by means of hypertext, structuring in a non-linear and rhizomatic way the narrative cores, which will offer the participants the occasion of interactive approaches opening to co-authorial hypostases.
Paraphrasing Athanasius Kircher, I can state that the non-phallic entity named computer, is a “machine for producing stupefying images”, a sort of New Wundercammer, where wonders, under the appearance of hybrid images, constitute the new expression modalities characterizing digital system in all formats, and on all supports.
The ludic dimension of the Hymera project was premeditatedly accented just in the idea of ensuring to all participants the chance of undertaking ars combinatoria operations in a labyrinth configuration, previously loaded with the ki data-bank, overflowing with paradoxical and stupefying images. Therefore, all players have equal chances in constructing their own chimerical hypostases, which will make the project’s initiating authorial identity to branch towards multiple co-authorial alterities, especially when users are well tempered and in possession of the creative capacity generally denominated as facultas ludentes.


NOTE. At the end of the Hypermedia segment in this Catalog, one can find out additional data on the configuration, content and functioning structure for the Hymera Net Work. And, also, the Web address at which it can be accessed. Keep on Playing!
Besides producing digital works, the second objective of the kinema ikon group in the hypermedia stage was, and continues to be editing the Intermedia magazine, starting from 1994. Till this text was written, there appeared 17 issues, as follows: the first nine had a quarterly periodicity in Romanian, with the exception of issues number four and nine, written in English, French, and German; issues 10 / 96 and 11 / 97 were made on CD ROM, and, starting with 12 / 96, the publication became annual, and in English only. In the beginning, it was printed at the Poudique printing shop, and, from issue number 12, it moved to the Trinom printing shop, in a modified format.
Editorial board: Calin Man, chief-editor and designer, Judit Angel, Liliana Trandabur, Peter Hügel, Romulus Bucur, Roxana Chereches, Caius Grozav and Gheorghe Sabau. From among the ki members having published texts and graphical illustrations, I mention Andreea Benczik, Paul George Bodea, and Adrian Sandu.
On special events – exhibitions, symposiums, etc. – we have published opinions of the artists and art critics invited, and to whom we referred in the pages dedicated to the respective events. Unfortunately, there are few international collaborations, more exactly, two consistent and inciting theoretical texts, signed Timothy Murray – Theorizing Contact Zones: The Art of CD-Rom and Patrick Lichty – Theory and the Eclectic, published in two thematic editions dedicated to the ludic and to eclecticism in digital creation. Other thematic issues have proposed debates on the new imagology telematic, and have tried solving the digital art versus digital work dilemma, at which I will return in the end of this catalog with the text, Digital Art without Art...
The specific character of the Intermedia magazine, produced exclusively with digital means, consists in the unwonted solving of the text / images rapport. Otherwise put, it was not resorted to the classic procedure of illustrating the texts with images, but to incrusting the writing into the iconic configuration, the result being, such as some critics have remarked, an artistic object. This esthetic perception of the form of expression does not diminish at all the relevance of the theoretical texts or of the essays presenting a personal poetics. Anyway, the jocular style is obvious, reflecting, as in the case of hypermedia works, the detached attitude of the ki members towards the all sorts of militancy en vogue in contemporary art.
Positive reactions have appeared since the first issues, in cultural and art magazines, such as, Dilema, Vineri, Contrapunct, Rom‚nia literara, Observator cultural, respectively, Arta, Artelier, Arhitext-design, Balkon, Idea, and ARThoc, but also in the local daily press, Adevarul, Observator, Jelen, Buletin de Arad and Agenda zilei. Atypical in all senses, the Intermedia magazine does not comprise in its structure a press review column, and I think it is the moment to express our gratitude towards all those who have commented, favorably, or with critical accents the graphical aspect and the contents of the texts, being about over 60 such considerations. Since the first issue, Alex. Leo Serban set somehow the tone, from the perspective of sensual perception, “a magazine to be looked, that is, tasted, its pages having an almost tactile quality” – only offset hearing and smelling were missing – and so on, “out only magazine having in its program the ludic at large”. Bogdan Ghiu continues on the same tone, asserting that “is a magazine pas comme les autres, because the contiguous play between processed images, and texts, impossible to quote, makes one take a decision: to enter or not to enter this game”. Then Cezar-Paul Badescu, “a live and inciting magazine, truly occidental”. The Rom‚nia literara reviewer “in the solemn sadness surrounding us, Intermedia reminds us that gratuity is not extinct; text and graphics are presenting themselves as a unitary body, but not passing the threshold of the virtuosity exercise...” Ion Manolescu is translating in Vineri an adaptation from the Intermedia 11 / 97 CD ROM, and Mihai Grecea produces the first text in which a Romanian media critic submits to a pertinent analysis a work of a media artist, also Romanian, that is, Calin Man, and his work, Das Wanderbuch e-story / istorii. Irina Cios, in the context of a series of articles on the condition of contemporary Romanian art, pauses, with competence and obvious empathy, on the ki works, and on the Intermedia magazine. Then, Simona Sora sustains, with unfaltering firmness, that the object in cause “is a magazine to be read, and obligatorily to be wholly kept”. An anonymous benevolent critic considers that “the texts are provocative, atypical, short and coherent, and no mistake, they are sharp as a needle”. Another anonymous critic heaps pixels upon us, calling the group “a bunch of computer nerds, mere show nonconformists, experimentalists, pataphysicians, techno-futurists, and stroboscopic [sic]”, which, on the whole, is flattering… Finally, Adela Vaetisi has succeeded the performance that, only from what she had seen, without knowing each other and without intermediaries, to catch, with precision and stylistic elegance, the true characteristics of the ki-intermedia style, via calin man. About the group and magazine have written also Ileana Pintilie and Raluca Olga Dumitru, the former producing too a radio broadcast at Radio Rom‚nia Cultural with interviews with ki members and other participants at the 2002 symposium on the condition of digital art.
The same year, Ioana Alexandru has made for TVR-Cultural an audio-video essay on the kinema ikon works and projects, presented in the X / perimental broadcast. There have expressed opinions on ki / im Alina Serban, Cosmin Nasui, Pavel Susara, Dan Stanca, Adrian Guta, Erwin Kessler, and, from Arad, Catalina Latu, Carmen Neamtu, Mihai Popovici, Alciona Popoviciu, Mihaela Cerna, Péter Puskel and others. Finally, in some representative books on contemporary Romanian art, there were made considerations on the ki group’s place and role in the context of experimental artistic undertakings, by comments signed Magda C‚rneci, Alexandra Titu, and Marilena Preda S‚nc.
I have found out, from the publications in the workshop’s archive, that there existed some introductory texts in the catalogs of some important events in the country – the CSAC exhibitions generally, and Experiment ’60 – ’90 in particular –, as well as international, such as those organized by the Bauhaus Foundation, EMAF, VIPER, ISEA 2000, the Venice 2003 Art Biennial, and others, consigned in the respective chapters.
I mention also the The Association of Professional Writers of Romania (ASPRO) prize for experiment on 2002, awarded to the Intermedia magazine at the International Book Fair, Bookarest.
In 2004, we have temporarily stopped publication of issue number 18, the editorial board being busy with making the ki Catalog, and the preparations for the retrospective exhibition at MNAC, in the autumn... Anyway, we will soon resume publishing the magazine, in a different formula and a different format. Until then, the Intermedia magazine can be seen / read by accessing our old Internet address, www.V2.nl / kinema-ikon, a good occasion of thanking V2.nl for hosting us.


KI-next generation / the alter_native tendency kf-art and other chimerae...
The content of the Catalog you are just leafing was structured in distinct segments – contextual history, group works, individual works, exhibitional participation, own publications – reflecting the three stages of the evolution of the kinema ikon group within the cultural and artistic context of the al period undergone (1970-2005).
There was missing just the temporal dimension of the future – a matter of concern, lately – but, look, about mid 2004, this “future” surprisingly started taking shape. Within the framework of a public occurrence organized by ONIN, communication agency, at the Arad Art Museum, where made the promotion of the latest digital works produced by ki group was made, I noticed the compact participation of a number of about 40-50 youth, evidently interested, and especially competent, judging from the questions they were asking. At the end of the meeting, they left the way they had come, that is, in group, towards a mysterious location, about which I found out from Stefan Tiron, co-author of the meeting, that it was the very space of the future kf-art in the under construction stage. So that, two months later, we were in our turn invited at the public / official opening of the previously mentioned location, Café_Club + alternative space for contemporary art.
The group initiative having founded this happy artistic event is made of young Arad people, freshly graduated from the graphics department of the Art Faculty in Timisoara, namely, Ioana Eremias and Gabriel Cosma, plus Radu Cosma, specialized in cultural management. From a technical and logistical point of view, the three initiators / curators are permanently assisted in their projects development by a collective of collaborators, of the most diverse formations, from students in terminal years of the Art High-school, to students and graduates of the Art Faculties in Timisoara and Cluj, and to polytechnics students specializing in multimedia. Otherwise, absolutely all of them master the digital technology, and, besides, a striking detail for me, although they have pursued or are following visual arts studies, they are equally interested and competent in the field of musical creation –electronic, electro-acoustic, ambient, digital, and experimental. The most active among them are Mihai Salajan (aka mimi), Ivan Tolan (ivi), Iosif Gheorghe (dyslex), Laurentiu Alexandru (lori), Octavian Belintan (hyero), Mihai Pacurar (mitzu), Linda Barkasz, Sergiu Sas, Dinu Bogdan, and my excuses for those omitted.
Were the Arad kf-art just a local accident, the question would not have too great relevance. Fortunately, such occurrences are taking place, for a few years, events of the same type are taking place in several cities of Romania, and during the four months in which I have obstinately followed all of the la kf-art programs, I had the occasion to see performing the young artists invited to present their projects – on displays, as video projections or DVDs, musical auditions etc. Recently, I was confirmed an intuition, after having read a pamphlet in English, published by the MU group from Eindhoven, and having Toon van Gool and Anna Ahlstrand as editors. The latter is also the author of the preface, with an eloquent title: NEA, that is, New European ARTSPACE. The pamphlet includes a list, a map, and introducing texts for 70 (seventy!) de center / groups / locations with projects similar to the Arad kf-art, to which a page was dedicated. Therefore, we are witnessing an artistic developing tendency, concomitantly with the beginning of the third millenium, and, surprise!, the Romanian art-army is producing in synchronism with the European one, a thing not having taken place from the time of the historical avant-garde. The pamphlet, as well as other off and on-line materials consulted, lead towards the idea of pan-European collaboration, by exchanges of works, mutual invitations, and joint projects of exhibitions / events.
A simple, natural, and common sense question: in what does the esthetic project of the very young generation of artists, which are the expression means they intend to use in order to achieve it, which is the main objective, and how do they conceive its promotion among the public. I have a vague suspicion that such a premeditated and undertaken project does not exist. Simply, it is taking shape on the go, a sort of work in progress, and only the insistent – consistent exchanges between similar groups and locations will lead, eventually, to an exact theoretical circumscribing of the tendency.
Which seems remarkable to me, as a specific contribution, is the perspective the concept of esthetic object-event, creation generally, and equally public representation – understood as a process with interactive implications – are approached. The newcomers on the scene of art are operating with no inhibition and complex whatsoever to all previous means of expression, are eclectic without restriction, ludic full size, and obviously having taken their distance from all militancies haunting contemporary art, alternative art included. Then, they feel attracted by the domains of pop culture, subculture, para-culture, or counterculture, by naive, infantile, commercial genres, and of the whole audio-visual spectacle the streets of big cities are abundantly offering. A peculiar passion for subgenera of Japanese culture, especially anime manga, and generally for all types of comic strips or animated cartoons. A maximum interest for producing or promoting new species musical, autonomously presented, or an auditory / acoustic dimension of an object / visual event. Finally, the digital is a sine qua non condition, being naturally used from the tenderest age.
To a neophyte, the vocabulary might seem quasi-esoteric, being heard in the debates following artistic events, or read on discussion forums, as well as in texts published in fanzines or other magazines of the same type. What can say to an “outsider”, words or phrases such as, logo-street, stencil graffiti, poptrance, anime manga, psychobilly, skin flix, glitch event, noisie, whence noisicians etc.etc. Of course, some terms are known from the ’70s – ’80s, such as graffiti, street art, comics, fanzine, comic strips, or phrases from the field of music, such as DJ, sampler, scratch, body music, and others. The original approach, which confers a significant specific difference, resides in combining without any complex of all mentioned audio-visual genres and subgenera, in new forms of expression, of an unlimited eclecticism, causing interactive reception effects.
If one regularly participates to a great number of such events, one realizes that things are much simpler. One realizes that that very young artists are producing, after all, sounds and images, being interested in the current tendencies in graphics, design, digital kinetic images and new musical-acoustic forms, frenetically combining fragments of recorded images and graphical configurations with fragments of noises / noisie, human voices and crumbs musical. A sort of ars combinatoria, where the “ludic at large” represents a way of life.
We see & hear, musical compositions– electronic, electroacoustic, digital, experimental, visual compositions made by static, dynamic images, analogical records, digital processings with sophisticated programs, etc. but one can also see graphical works on paper, exhibited on the café’s display, photographs projected onto objects, video records transferred on dvd, animated cartoons, anime manga, that is, overflowing audio-visual experiments, from which one’s head can be resounding.
The kinema ikon / kf-art impact has had an effect of empathy, in both directions, for which I found a few conjunctural explanations. After the generation of the ’80s – from which we parted in – the kinema ikon group was not able to resound with the next age groups. In case it is not the lack of concordance in habits – the same family of alternative art –, as disagreement on the preponderance of certain creative means and on the purpose of the esthetic object produced. And, look, out of nowhere, it made its apparition on the scene of contemporary art a very young generation with which we “resound and empathize”, both in similarities and dissimilarities.
Similarities: the absolutely natural resort to the digital system of creation – the ludic and ironic approach to the process of producing the esthetic object / event, but also the process of its promotion in an unconventional public space – rejecting the militant objectives – applications with an interactive character, etc.
Dissimilarities: to the ki members, the exclusively digital phrase is defining – to kf-art members, hybridization between analogic and digital means is predominant – in ki works one will never find linearly narrated stories, at most, pseudo-narratives based on slightly esoteric associations – to our very young friends, linear story is essential, probably as a consequence also of the undertaken influence of certain cultural subgenera, such as anime manga, comics strips, animated cartoons, etc.
All in all, as a finalizing of the kinema ikon / kf-art relationship, we have reached a sort of gentlemen’s agreement which stipulated that a number of kf components would realize an equal number of individual works, having a common interface, and a kf-art web page, together constituting module seven, as a continuation of the six ones produced by kinema ikon for the retrospective exhibition in the autumn of 2005 at the MNAC. It is possible that our young colleagues’ works to be considered pro-ki, para-ki, or even anti-ki. Anyway, I foresee positive tensions, which would be the cause of a paradigm change, whence the subtitle of the module, ki – next generation...


Final considerations to the contextual history of the kinema ikon group.
Therefore, I have obstinately respected the rule of the context, directed from the very title and argued in the introduction, for all the three stages crossed between 1970-2005, plus the prefiguration of the future, this, on the topic of the last segment.
It is evident that the ki group was, is, and it will be an atypical one. In plain English, not a model to follow. Because it is marginal and quasi elitist. Refractive to other modalities and means of creation, without being, nevertheless, intolerant. It insists on the exclusively digital phrase, but starts to eavesdrop to the worn-out analogic means. Receptive to the projects and artistic practices of younger generations. Receptivity usually followed by a slight disillusionment. Now we firmly believe in the kf-art et alii alter_native.
The Catalog is an offset complement to the retrospective and prospective exhibition in the autumn of 2005, in the spaces of the fourth floor of the MNAC, an exhibition configured into 7 modules, with 14 screens / displays, reflecting the stages underwent: experimental movies with workshop logs + mixed media with the conversatia magazine + hypermedia in all digital formats, that is, CD ROM, installations and net work, together with the intermedia magazine and again + ki_next generation with web kf-art.
This Catalog is accompanied by a demo on DVD, synthetically comprising the kinema ikon opera omnia.
At the 2020 jubilee, what I have called the kinema ikon project, will be perceived by the next generation as a heterogeneous system of digital and analogic creative procedures, while old group members will have the nostalgia of the pixels of yore... Anyway, the voxels of synthetic images will constitute the main minimal units by means of which artists of the future will create the dazzling fictitious universes of virtual reality...

 

txt from the kinema ikon catalog [2005]