11.12.2004

Thing — Kristian Lukic and Zoran Pantelic of KUDA

Topic(s): In Conversation | No Comments

Date/Time: 12/11/2004 12:00 am


Join us for an evening with Kristian Lukic and Zoran Pantelic
of New Media Center Kuda (Novi Sad)
> Friday, November 12, 7pm
THE THING
601 West 26th Street
New York, New York 10001
Tel: 212-937 0443
Email: info@thing.net
(organized by the Institute for Distributed Creativity
in collaboration with The Thing, NYC)

http://distributedcreativity.org

As part of a series of talks on new media arts education
> An interview with Kuda by Trebor Scholz
TS: What is Kuda?
Kuda: New Media Center Kuda is a non-profit organization that brings
together artists, theorists, media activists, researchers, professionals
and hobbyists of all kinds. Kuda was officially founded in 2000 in Novi
Sad (Serbia/ Montenegro). In the mid 1990s mainly Zoran Pantelic and the
group Apsolutno had the idea to bring together people to shape what is
now Kuda. We focus on research in new cultural relations, contemporary
art practice, and social issues. The New Media Center Kuda offers space
for cultural dialog and alternative methods of research and education.
TS: How do you compare Kuda in the context of resource scarcity and the
current emergence of teach-yourself projects such as Copenhagen Free
University?
Kuda: We still don’t call ourselves a university but we do aspire to
communicate ‘universal knowledge.’ For students interested in cultural
studies, critical media art and theory we offer resources for research.
We are expanding our library- we have about two thousand books,
magazines and catalogs. Kuda focuses on fields that go beyond
traditional academic concerns. We employ the model of the open workshop
to increase interactivity, participation and responsiveness. Initiatives
like Copenhagen Free University break the walls of traditional
educational institutions who are closed in the institutional framework.
They go public and talk to ‘real people.’ At the same time the
Copenhagen Free University turns back to a certain intimacy– they
emphasize that they operate in private apartments. These activities are
based on friendships that is different to ‘cold’ and often empty
educational professionalism. Education that is exclusively based
on a two-dimensional master-puppet relationship can become incestuous,
and strangely paternalistic in nature.
TS: What are alternative methods of education that you implemented at
Kuda and which structure supports this?
Kuda: Kuda consists of three interconnected departments: Kuda.lounge,
Kuda.info and Kuda.production. Kuda.lounge is an ongoing program of
lectures, presentations and workshops.
Right from the beginning we used surveillance cameras, and simple color
video cameras to record all events– lectures, or presentations at Kuda.
These materials are in our mediateque where anybody can watch the
material or burn their own CD of it. This is how we try to make the
best possible use of the available technology. Kuda.info is our physical
space that contains our library with close to 2000 titles, the
mediateque, and computers for free Internet access. Kuda.production
stands for everything that Kuda creates—from the publication of books,
to campaigns, exhibitions, conferences, and the production of film
documentaries. Our cross-disciplinary approach is still unparalleled in
Novi Sad’s rather traditional academic landscape. For the most part
classical education is informed by a certain standardization of levels
of knowledge. This creates a hierarchy of knowledge with its values,
which could be turned around or replaced, which is crucial from the
point of view of the knowledge economy. We are trying to turn this
pyramid upside down by accessing marginalized theories and practices. We
introduce them into the structure of the mainstream knowledge basket.
Kuda’s relax space offers the academic rigor of educational and
scientific models without any interest in being accountable
for the accumulated knowledge. Serbian mainstream culture and local
culture in Novi Sad in particular are not cognizant of the cultural
events that took place here in the 1960s and 1970s.
Yugoslavia opened up to the West in the 1960s and we had our very own
1968 with all its cultural and artistic upheaval. In Socialist
Yugoslavia of the time conceptual art, visual poetry, Maoism, and
leftist “anarcho–liberalism” flourished. The communist government coined
the term “anarcho–liberalism” at that point. At that time political art
bureaucrats and dogmatists wrote official art history of the 20th
century, which was very blurry. Kuda’s initiatives connect with these
historical moments.
In 2004 we published three books. The first one “Tektonik & Bitomatik”
brings together texts and transcripts of some of the Kuda.lounge
lectures (English/ Serbian). Secondly, “Divanik” contains interviews
with artists and theorists who are working in critical theory, net and
media culture. During the months of April and May 2004 we organized
Transeuropean Picnic together with V2– a three days event with
conference, presentations of projects, exhibitions, music events and
theater performances. The event was organized around European expansion
that took place on May 1st. More than one hundred participants from
Georgia and the Netherlands came to Novi Sad to discuss current
positions on electronic culture and media in the context of a wider
Europe versus the countries that remain outside the EU.
TS: You give your local participants in Novi Sad the chance to work in
Linux. How do you motivate young people who may want skills in
proprietary software to score a new media job to use Linux and open
source software?
KUDA: This is a question that points to the larger market economy and
goes a bit beyond our activities. Although there are strong initiatives
to push non-proprietary software in business, it is still very marginal
in that context. The cadre of designers and programmers that relies on
proprietary software to find a job, is no different than the Fordist
proletarian subject but without proletarian consciousness. We can link
the ideas around software to Marx’ notions of the necessity for the
proletariat to own the tools it uses. As of now, software and hardware
tools are not in our hands. In this sense the open software and the free
software movement are connected to the fight for the ownership of tools
in factories. But like a hundred years ago– this process of transfer of
the ‘tools to the digital proletariat’ is slow and encounters lots of
obstacles. In addition, there is a magical problem of standardization in
Linux environments especially in the audio/video development area.
Today’s networks are compatible to the needs of offices et cetera but
the development of distributed audio and video still needs much more
intellectual and financial investment. Open source and free software
need to become more stable and user friendly so that new media
practitioners can easier switch.
TS: How do you educate your local communities about file sharing
and copyright issues in a society of post-information lock down?
KUDA: We are organizing lectures and workshops, campaigns, and make
documentaries (“Catch Us if you Can,” 2003). In workshops related to
issues of open source and free software we discuss these problems. A few
examples of workshops were Derek Holzer on free software audio and video
tools, “TamTam CMS” by Aco Erkalovic of “mi2 Zagreb” and “Slix” by Luka
Frelih of the media center Ljudmila.
In April 2003 we did a workshop with Critical Art Ensemble. This was at
a time when government introduced and implemented a law to protect
intellectual property and copyright to rid Serbia of its black market of
software, movies and music. In one week an entire pirate industry was
destroyed. Before that 99 % of all Microsoft Windows software
packages in use were pirated. In a year this number went down to 72%.
Last month we organized a workshop on open source/ free software for
journalists. If they will get the message then things will become much
easier.
TS: A lot of the activities of Kuda are dispersed internationally, you
travel a lot. How does your local community benefit from your
international presence? How do you feed back these discourses to the
people in Novi Sad?
KUDA: In the beginning there were different views what and how Kuda
should work. Is it an exhibition space, production studio or what? We
realized that after a decade of isolation there is a strong need for
self-education and hence we focused our efforts in this direction. It’s
important to know that it is extremely difficult for people in Serbia to
leave their country. Citizens of Serbia and Montenegro need visas for
most European countries. We started to invite people from around the
world to come here and then we started to encourage local people to
become more active, to create their own networks with our help. Our
Kuda.info department is possibly the most important part of our
activities for young Novi-Sad based artists. Kuda.info is a database of
calls for submissions, proposals, residencies, and awards.
We have an open library and mediateque. When we organize larger events
like “World-Information.Org” in 2003 or “Transeuropean” Picnic in 2004
we involve young people in the production of the events.
TS: Serbia’s new media scene had a lot of visibility with B92, online
and broadcasted, around the time of the 79 days of the war in 1999. What
are some developments in new media production and theory over the past
years in Serbia?
KUDA: Cyberrex center is part of B92 and recently became active again.
They organize workshops and presentations. There is also “The School of
Missing Studies” which is an example of applied interdisciplinary
cross-connections between architecture, urbanity, culture and new media.
In addition, there is a new media department at the Novi Sad Fine Arts
Academy. There, Dragan Zivancevic and Vladan Joler are working to
revitalize the academy and to produce advanced artwork in their
department. Furthermore, there is the VideoMedeja festival which focuses
on video and interactive digital art.
The Belgrade Center for Contemporary Art’s “VirCo edition” translated
some media and theory titles (ie. Lev Manovich, Critical Art Ensemble,
and Hakim Bey). There are some groups and individual artists who are
working in the field of new media including p.RT, Apsolutno or Ivan
Grubanov, and Vladan Joler with whom I worked as part of the Eastwood
group.
TS: When we spoke in Tallin you mentioned that most of your funding
comes from the state and only a small proportion is contributed by the
European Union. How do you find sustainable and locally justifiable
funding sources?
KUDA: In 2000, after political shifts Slobodan Milosevic lost the
elections. Serbia dwelled for two to three years in a certain kind of
constructive optimism– lots of new state supported initiatives emerged
at that time. Now, four years later, there is clearly less energy, and
the political specter in Serbia has moved into a more conservative
direction. Our current situation is not as good as it was back then. On
a local level– the ultra-nationalist candidate of the Serbian Radical
Party won elections for mayor and assembly in Novi Sad. Our
anti-nationalist activities have obviously no chance of support from
this nationalist mayor. Three days after she became mayor we printed
6000 black posters– just black. All of Novi Sad was in black as a
symbolic welcome to the new mayor. Last week our server was shut down:
It will be an interesting year.
References:
Kuda.org

http://kuda.org/_kuda_info.htm

Copenhagen Free University

http://www.copenhagenfreeuniversity.dk/

School of Missing Studies
http:// http://www.schoolofmissingstudies.net/
Apsolutno

http://www.apsolutno.org/

p.RT

http://www.cyberrex.org/p.rt/frames_index.htm

B92

http://www.freeb92.net/

Center for Contemporary Art Belgrade

http://www.dijafragma.com/

Cyberrex

http://www.cyberrex.org/

VideoMedeja Festival

http://www.videomedeja.org.yu/

Ljubljana Digital Media Lab

http://www.ljudmila.org/

Questions? Ask us