My ideas on the topic of media art and self-reference emerged from my research on strategies of analogue media art practices and their parallels with structures and approaches in today’s new media art field. My research materials from Moscow, Russia, and Riga, Latvia, (early 1980s) included some examples of samizdat publications – texts and tape recordings. Among the works were a poetic absurdist novel and a re-published documentation and discussion of collective performative actions. Both editions were typed or recorded and transcribed in a collaborative effort by a group of people, manually copied, and distributed (or intended for distribution) as samizdat , hand to hand. I also discovered examples of collaborative creative practices of documentation and reflection on the margins of the Western art canon – 12 dialogues, 1962–1963, featuring dialogues by Carl Andre and Hollis Frampton dedicated to their own fellow artists’ practice, and Filmmakers by Takahiko Iimura (1966 / 69), which portrays the experimental filmmakers scene in the U.S. I think that some features of these collaborative creative experiments are similar to characteristics of new media and indie publishing and can also be traced in the growing participatory culture and collaborative writing practice emerging in wikis and blogs. In the following, I will try to sketch out some of these parallels, although I have not yet arrived at a comprehensive, elaborate summary of them. The topic raised several questions about the self-definition of experimental arts practices; the references that provide historical and contemporary context for these initiatives; their methods of discussion and documentation, and the role of media in this process. In a discussion of collective work, it is interesting to see what effect locality has on the scene, at what point practices become adopted in a wider social context, and how the autonomy of these practices is defined. I see these sets of questions not so much as institutional but as organizational.
- Mara Traumane, art historian and curator. matthes-seitz-berlin.de/autor/mara-traumane.html