RENEW 2013

The 5th International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology

Riga / October 8 – 11, 2013

"Eastern-Europe Histories" Participants

Aleksandra KAMINSKA

Hypermediation in the Ruins of Socialism, Or, Concrete Legacies in an Age of Fiction


Panel:Panel B


Venue:Stockholm School of Economics, room 311

This presentation focuses on media art practices in the context of the Polish city. It investigates how the ruins of socialism serve as the backdrop for the constitution of new fantasies and ideals of urban and social existence and argues for the political significance of media art practices in the imagining of alternate realities. It delineates the conversation between the hypermediatization of the everyday and the ephemeral and placeless ‘reality’ formed by the mediated environment, and the ‘ghost of socialism’ present in the very fabric and concrete structures of cities designed during the socialist era. How do we build new models and imagine new futures in places where the landscape was built precisely as material extension of certain utopian values and using political principles that no longer reflect the aspirations of its citizens? The implications of this paradoxical situation are illustrated through the works of pioneer media artist Izabella Gustowska and artist-architect Aleksandra Wasilkowska. Gustowska’s recent projects are expansive large-scale multimedia sensorial experiences that reveal the fragile boundaries between reality and fiction in which presence is reevaluated. Wasilkowska meanwhile counteracts the politics of the physical landscape and the legacies of the sterile effects of the urban masterplan by monitoring patterns and rhythms of individuals, crowds and publics, which provide clues about gaps or holes in the system. In the prototype ‘Em_Wwa 1.0’ she creates a virtual platform that explores the communicative possibilities of a non-hierarchical model of urbanism. Together they challenge patterns of knowledge and memory that offer local understandings of how the aesthetic space of media art is also a political space of reimagination. As such there is an attempt at reconciliation between the mediated and concrete everyday as negotiated through the site-specific practices of the media artist that provides a way of thinking about the future anew.

Aleksandra Kaminska completed her dissertation in the Communication and Culture program at York University, Toronto, in September 2012. Her dissertation, ‘Mediating Poles: Media Art and Critical Experiments of the Polish Site, 2004-2009’ is an investigation of site-specific media art practices in contemporary Poland. Recent publications include Space and Culture, International Journal of Art and Technology, and Material Culture Review. She teaches media art history and theory at Brock and McMaster Universities, is the Managing Editor of PUBLIC, and a curatorial researcher for the exhibition ‘Land/Slide: Possible Futures’.

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