CULTURE

Globalization at the [email protected]

In the past few years there has been a growing sense that the electronic arts (video art, CD-ROM art, web art, digital photography, interactive objects and installations, electronic music, etc.) are associated with globalization. On the one hand, technological progress has given artists the ability to transcend the geographical boundaries of their countries more easily and to have access to a much larger audience through the Internet. On the other hand, these artists are now searching for the answers to the questions which the new digital civilization poses on a global level: How do we define a work of art today? Whom does it concern? What messages can be conveyed? This year’s festival of technology and art, [email protected], on for the fourth year running, has the working title of Deglobalizing / Reglobalizing and is part of the Cultural Olympiad which will precede the Olympic Games of 2004. The first events commence tomorrow in Athens, while the main ones will take place in Lavrion between September 14 and 16. For three days this town close to Athens will be completely transformed: The port, the technological park and the ironworks will become sites for the concourse and activities of artists from all over the world. Exhibitions of CD-ROM art, Net art, computer art and digital photography will be open to the public, while there will also be audiovisual presentations, an archive of printed material, texts in digital form, discussion panels, screenings and other cultural events. Of great interest is [email protected]’s micromuseum. Small and adaptable, it can, thanks to the new technology, contain a large number of works of art. The micromuseum will travel, with exhibitions at each stop, from Lavrion to Sofia in Bulgaria, Belgrade in Serbia and Maribor in Slovenia, with a final destination in Frankfurt, where Greece will be the country of honor at the International Book Fair. In each town, kiosks with exhibitions will be set up and there will be discussions and presentations, while it will be possible to follow the events on the Internet. The route that will be taken by the micromuseum is of exceptional symbolic significance, starting as it does in the south, making intermediate stops in the Balkans and terminating in the northern European city of Frankfurt. The first year we dealt with Greek affairs, but we were always interested in creating a wider network of communication for artists. The second year we presented the works of Balkan artists, while last year we went international. This year we are thinking along the lines of a wider expansion, Manthos Santorinaios, head of the Fournos Center of Art and Technology, told Kathimerini. Fournos is organizing the festival along with the Societe Anonyme for the Promotion of Cultural Heritage, the Ministry of Culture, the municipal authorities of Lavrion and other bodies from Greece and abroad. After four years, it seems as though the festival is entering a phase of maturity but also of rebellion, much as adolescents try out their strengths and on occasion do audacious things. We still have a youthful impudence and the will to collaborate with others and come up with joint proposals. Another aspect of this year’s [email protected] festival which is worth noting is that it involves a team of postgraduate students from the School of Fine Arts, who are bringing their know-how, freshness and appetite for work. The festival will accommodate many different people with their own dreams and ambitions on a common platform. Artists from all over the world will be coming to show their work and debate among themselves. This year, in contrast to last year, we do not have a particular individual to whom we pay tribute, as the micromuseum subverts the line of thinking that we had until now. Instead of making visitors feel small and insignificant, it engages not in the presentation of knowledge, but in the collection of information from each of the stops that it will make. The individuals who will be singled out will be all those whom we will meet on the journey. The theme of [email protected] 2001 is the positive aspects of globalization. In the past three years the mobilization against globalization has brought a political consciousness in the wider sense to the fore. Almost all agree that globalization can and should be separated from capitalism. Globalization is an unavoidable state of affairs. The question, then – if we assume that a new world is being created – is how to contest bits of it for society, the individual and for culture, says Manthos Santorinaios. Over 200 works The micromuseum will include over 200 works of art, among them some well-known pieces such as Blue Hare by Eduardo Cac, on the subject of biotechnology, and works by the Greek artist Yiannis Melanitis which represent all forms of digital art. Alongside this, figures from the international art scene will come to Greece – and the intermediate stops – for the festival. These include Pierre Bongiovanni, director of the French CICV center for technology and the arts, Irina Cios, director of the ICCA in Romania, Eduardo Cac, Luigi Ratclif, organizing director of the Big Torino, and others, who will participate in two round-table discussions on globalization in relation to art and the arrangement of space, which will take place next Sunday at Lavrion. The most important thing about this year’s festival is that it does not end when these three days are over but will evolve daily until 15 October, when we go to Frankfurt. New articles will be written about the experiences garnered on the journey, new images will emerge, new experiences will come to the fore, says the artistic director of Fournos. All those interested in finding out more can visit the Center’s website at www.mediaterra.org.