RENEW 2013

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

Riga / October 8 – 11, 2013

"Eastern-Europe Histories" Participants


The Aesthetics of Early East-West Online Communication


Panel:Panel A


Venue:Stockholm School of Economics

The pioneering role in establishing the East-West online communication was played the International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA) established, with multilateral negotiations lasting six years, in 1972, and based at a castle near Vienna. Here, scientists from 12 member countries from both sides of the Iron Curtain were to work together on problems other than military and space matters, on issues such as energy, oceans, the environment, or health. In 1974, the Institute began organising workshops and conferences bringing together the scientists involved in development of computer networks and communications protocols in the United States (ARPANET, PRNET), United Kingdom (NPL, EIN), France (CYCLADES, EIN), Italy (RPC), Sweden, Japan, as well as the COMECON countries. The Institute’s own networking efforts (IIASANET) led to the establishment of permanent connections between Vienna and Pisa, Italy, and Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, in 1977. In July 1977, IIASA organised a four-day long tele-conference itself serving as a bridge between Kiev, Wroclaw, and Silicon Valley, using a variety of technologies including dial-up connection, satellite, telex, and telephone. While the information flow over the Iron Curtain required substantial tactical and operational maneuverability on the side of “dissident networkers”, digital networks opened up a new channel outside the reach of the information control mechanisms of the time. The first users communicating online between East and West were the scientists linked to IIASA. Taking into account its relatively autonomous character the paper will explore the aesthetics of data communication among the research centres of the countries in Cold War.

Dušan Barok is an artist, writer and cultural activist involved in critical practise in the fields of software, art, and theory. Born in Bratislava, he graduated in information technologies from the University of Economics, Bratislava (DI, 2002), and Networked Media from the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam (MA, 2012).

He founded and ran the online culture portal Koridor (in Slovak, 1999-2002). In 2003 he co-founded BURUNDI media lab and organised there the Translab evening series. Developed the open source tool for online group-help backstage, and number of websites and online databases for artistic, cultural and educational organisations. Together with Magdaléna Kobzová he organised the two-week long workshop-based event Summer Open Academy, bringing together people from the arts, technology, media and humanities (Bratislava, 2006 & 2007). Since 2004 he has been involved in the organisation of Multiplace network culture festival, in 2007-09 as festival coordinator. Since 2008, together with Peter Gonda he has been running the free art server Sanchez. In 2004, he initiated Monoskop, a wiki-based portal for collaborative research of media art and culture; and in 2009, together with Tomáš Kovács, the open access living archive of writings on art, culture, and media technologies, Monoskop Log. He has conducted research of history of media art and culture in East-Central Europe.

In 2012 he co-founded the artist collective La Société Anonyme. Collaborations with OKNO, Atrakt Art (3/4 magazine), 13m3, Col-me, Satori, Artlist, and others. Taught interactive media at Prague College (2006). Guest lectures at AKU Banská Bystrica, MU Brno, FaVU Brno, FAMU Prague, VŠVU Bratislava, and elsewhere. He had lived in the States (2002-03), Prague (2004-08), Berlin (2008-10), Rotterdam (2010-12), and currently in Bratislava and Bergen.

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