Coordinator: Miklós Peternák

 1. “Ich habe ein eigentümliches Tier, halb Kätzchen, halb Lamm.” (I have here a strange animal, half cat, half lamb.) – wrote Franz Kafka in his short story entitled Eine Kreuzung. This reflects a tone that is typical of the 20th century, one that we may apply here in order to meditate the diverse forms and especially perspectives of art /science cooperations

2. Once I tried to summarize some historical experiences of experimental art / science relationships as follows: Art upholds and strengthens the validity of personal knowledge of the unknown. This revelatory aspect of cognition is absent from everyday life. Science has confined itself to the gathering of information, its study and acceptance, and the comprehension of its results has—rightfully—excluded direct experience, or else presents it as an exception. Science has forfeited the condition of providing occasion for the sensory insight that constitutes private knowledge, beyond the academy—whereas art has proved capable of taking on that role, even as it adopts scientific terms and systematic concepts. (Miklós Peternák: Art, Research, Experiment: Scientific Methods and Systematic Concepts. = Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form, 1940s-70s. Los Angeles County Museum of Art – The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 2004, pp. 89-111. )

3. During the last twenty years I was involved in the formation of two new initiative in Hungary, the Intermedia Dept. at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts (from 1990) and the C3: Center for Culture and Communication (from 1996). These two institutions are different in social context as the University belongs to the state while C3 between 1996 and 1999 was az experimental pilot project financed by the Hungarian Soros Foundation than from 1999 till now exised as a non-profit foundation, an NGO. However the initial mission of both were close to each other.

Since its foundation C³ has focused its energies on fostering the integration of new technologies in the social and cultural tradition. The main objectives are production, presentation, dissemination and preservation of electronic arts and culture (interactive installations, experimental multimedia, net-art) including the collection, archive, documentation of contemporary (media) art as well as the artistic applications of the new technologies. C3 organized several public events in the context of art / science collaborations like: The Butterfly Effect project Application of the Image symposium the Perspective Vision exhibitions, conferences etc.

The Intermedia Department had developed simultaneously with similar European undertakings while relying heavily on local circumstances. At the time of the program’s commencement in 1990, the overwhelming local circumstance in Hungary (and in all of Central and Eastern Europe) was the unprecedented process of reprogramming and reshaping a bankrupt political and economic system into a working society. The emergence of new media technologies in all walks of life brought about a fundamental change in the area of cultural/artistic work as well. Therefore the primary objective of the training was to enable students to realize the potential of their individual personalities so that they may develop an active and creative presence in the cultural spheres of the information society.

4. As for art, it is crucial to mention that during these 20 years in the middle of Europe it was the political and economic systems of the region that changed, but not the predominant tastes. In other words, the new landscape is more favorable to innovative, contemporary, and bold currents in art only to the extent that the threat of outright banning no longer means that survival in the field is impossible.

What I can try here is to describe this story and in this way provide informations to someone who can judge from a more pragmatic aspect as if it was a success or failure. Such an overview about lessons learned together with possible recommendations can be useful especially due the need of the continious search of next steps / future tactics.