artintact: from ZKM
"Aahh!" by Shankar Barua


The fascinating "Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie" (ZKM) in the lovely little town of Karlsruhe, near Frankfurt in Germany, housed in a fabulously restored and re-purposed ex-munitions factory that runs more than 300 yards along one axis, with several glorious atriums along the way, was not surprisingly one of the first organizations in the world to launch an 'Artist's Interactive CD-ROMagazine', called "artintact", in the mid-1990s.

Unfortunately, just 5 volumes of artintact were ever produced (1994-1999), with each containing just 3 unique works of cutting-edge interactive e-media art on a single CD-ROM accompanied by a reasonably substantial book of associated commentaries.

However, ZKM (Centre for Art & Media Technology, in English) revisited the project within a couple of years of its demise, and came out with a consolidated DVD containing all of it in 2002, with the title "the complete artintact".

Here's what it contains, as represented for you below in the form of text-extracts from the brief accompanying booklet, and individual screen-shots of each of the total 15 interactive e-creative works.

The text below is extracted from the commentary by Jeffre Shaw (Director of the ZKM-Institute for Visual Media, 2002), as contained in the booklet that accompanies the the complete artintact (the books that accompanied the original CDs are rendered as PDF-files on the DVD, but are not included here).

Past Present

"When in 1994 we launched the artintact series, the situation of interactive media art was somewhat different from today. Its practices focused largely on installation work, with just a few museums and festivals offering venues of presentation. Furthermore, these works were usually dependent on sophisticated hardware components, making them costly to produce and exhibit. Public access to these works was therefore limited. We saw the artintact CD-ROM series as a means of enabling the broader, low-cost dissemination of interactive artworks. Another hurdle at that time was the cultural sector's general unfamiliarity with digital media in any form. This motivated us to combine the artintact CD-ROM with a book, so that our potential buyers could (surreptitiously) enter the digital domain via the security of a more familiar format. The book also offered us the opportunity to invite many distinguished persons in the media art filed to write critical commentaries on interactive art in general and on the featured artist' works in particular.

".. In recent years, the CD-ROM format has been rendered increasingly obsolescent by new digital distribution forms such as the Internet and the DVD. As carriers of interactive information, they offer specific advantages: the immaterial and distributed nature of the Internet; the vastly superior storage and performance characteristics of the DVD that led to our decision to re-publish the complete artintact series on one DVD-ROM. Rather than supplement that disk with an unwieldy 700-page publication, we chose to incorporate all the printed materials as PDF files. Given the increasing popularity of the DVD, which is largely due to its commercial application as a platform for games and movies, we hope that the works on artintact will now find an even larger audience of enthusiasts.

"When taking a fresh look at these works, one should bear in mind that they were created in the period from 1994 to 1998 with the assistance of authoring systems then current and subject to the specific limitations (e.g. speed, resolution, image quality) of the CD-ROM format."

artintact 1

interactive index to artintact #1

#1/1. Jean-Louis Boissier
"Flora petrinsularis", 1993/94
Boissier allows us to flick through two books by Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The erotic experiences of his 'Confessions' stand in contrast to the plants placed in his herbarium, the intimate language encounters the silent vegetation.

#1/2. Erci Lanz
"Manuscript", 1994
The cryptic form of notation that initially puzzles the viewer turns out to be a collection of different tools and household implements. Clicking on any of the objects generates a 4-second video demonstrating its possible usage.

#1/3. Bill Seaman
"The Exquisite Mechanism of Shivers", 1991/94
A poetic menu of 330 words can be used to create very different combinations based on an invariably 10-part sentence. Every single word is linked with a specific video sequence, meaning a film is reassembled each time a new sentence is composed.

artintact 2

interactive index to artintact #2

#2/1. Luc Courchesne
"Portrait One", 1990/95
A blind date in cyberspace enacted through an intimate conversation with a fictional character. Courchesne constructs interaction as a dialogue between the user and an insidiously friendly woman.

#2/2. Miroslaw Rogala
"Lovers Leap", 1994/95
Using specially developed software, the artist processed photographs of a busy street-crossing in Chicago to create a totally novel perspective. The CD-ROM enables continuous 360-degree navigation through this alien cityscape.

#2/3. Tamas Waliczky
"Der Wald", 1993/95
The Viewer embarks on a journey through a black-and-white forest shrouded in mist and stretching endlessly in all directions. There is neither starting point nor destination, no sky, ground or horizon.

artintact 3

interactive index to artintact #3

#3/1. Ken Feingold
"JCJ-Junkman", 1995
The head of a ventriloquist's dummy appears on the screen, surrounded by a whilring storn of ever-changing buttons of all shapes and sizes that constantly appear and disappear. If the user manages to click on one of the buttons, the puppet begins to speak.

#3/2. Perry Hoberman
"The Sub-Division of the Electric Light", 1996
A nostalgia machine allowing the viewer to move from room to room and operate ancient film and slide projectors loaded with audio-visual footage of strangely poetic and shifting scenarios.

#3/3 George Legrady
"Slippery Traces", 1996
A non-linear narrative in which the viewer navigates through a maze of some 200 interconnected postcards covering a range of topics such as nature, the future, technology, or gender. Every postcard contains hot spots which the viewer can select to call up a different image.

artintact 4

interactive index to artintact #4

#4/1. Marina Grzinic & Aina Smid
"Troubles with Sex, Theory & Histor", 1997
Grzinic & Smid create a garish universe composed of excerpts from film and video work jointly produced in the period 1982-97. Awaiting viewers is a game fraught with red herrings and commands, time limits and rules restricting their freedom of interaction.

#4/2. Dieter Kiessling
"Continue", 1997
A minimalist work that repeatedly asks one and the same question: is the user willing to persevere with the process of interaction?

#4/3. Anja Wiese
"trance machine", 1997
A memory game based on speech. The visuals are reduced to the trance-like rotation of circles resembling tape reels, while acoustically transported sentence fragments generate the reflections of fictional persona.

artintact 5

interactive index to artintact #5

#5/1. Forced Entertainment & Hugo Glendinning
"Frozen Palaces (Chapter One)", 1996-98
Time has stopped still. "Frozen Palaces" is an exploration of how place, identity and the imagination interact; about how place might both influence and archive dreams and events. It is the creation of a fictitious history ­ an overwriting of a real house with photographs of strange events that have never 'really' taken place.

#5/2. Masaki Fujihara
"Impalpability", 1998
Detailed images of sections of human skin form the surface of a ball which the viewer can rotate at will by manipulating the mouse. The abstract yet physical/sensorial impression roused by the ball disturbingly raises the question of what, exactly, one is touching ­ mouse or image? Image or flesh?

#5/3. Agnes Hegedus
"Things Spoken", 1998
An archive of personal memorabilia presented on a conveyor belt-like 'shell' on the black monitor screen, and able to be arranged according to diverse criteria. Associative spoken texts accompany each object, hyperlinks within these texts lead to chance encounters between the objects and the narrative.

below: entry & exit ~ "The Complete artintact"

for more info:

Dr Andrea Buddensieg
Leitung Head of the Press Office
ZKM Center for Art and Media
LorenzstraBe 19
D-76135 Karlsruhe, Germany