December 89 WRO Sound Basis Visual Art Festival
WRO’s Sound Basis Visual Art Festival in December 1989 has been the first review of media art and interdisciplinary actions in Poland, organized beyond the official cultural institutions and free of censorship. The idea had been carried out by an independent group of avant-garde art creators, researchers, and enthusiasts – the Open Studio WRO, created by Violetta Kutlubasis-Krajewska, Piotr Krajewski, Zbigniew Kupisz, and Lech Janerka. The pioneering formula of the festival had been based on the presentation of art connecting image and sound created through the use of electronic media.
At the time electronic art had been virtually unknown in Poland. Video equipment and computers were seen as something more closely associated with soon-to-be commercialized science projects or even science-fiction, rather than means of artistic creation.
In the legendary Czarny Salon (the black space that had once housed Grotowski’s Theatre), WRO opened the Laboratorium Gallery, where shows and performances were given with the use of video screens (one of the only two available in Poland at that time) and electronic equipment.
The performance by the group Kormorany, Cucumber Opera, that had been given in a desolate and defunct water tower Na Grobli has become legendary. Bulat Galeyev, a student and collaborator of Leon Theremin, the legendary genius inventor and composer, came from Russia to present his invention – a light effects generator.
Theremin, even though he was over 90 years old then, had still been banned from leaving the Soviet Union since the 1930s.
Centre Georges Pompidou presented a video program prepared especially for WRO. After years of isolation, Wroclaw had been visited by almost a 100 artists from all over the world – from Australia and Japan, through the entire Europe to the Americas.
Additionally, important artistic institutions of the western world have made an appearance. The following facts, along with the stir the festival had caused have been noted by the press and the TV.
The phenomenon of electronic art and WRO, the first Polish festival to be focused on showing it, was given a lot of media attention.
Cecile Babiole, who had received the first prize in the international competition for Menagerie, turned out to be a huge media success.
Festival’s highlights were shown on the National TV news. Channel 2 of the Polish National TV had prepared an extensive report on the event. Daily press as well as trade magazines such as FILM and niche computer magazines published information about WRO. Abroad, reviews had been published by a popular Berlin magazine TIP and by Radio I Telewizja, (Radio and TV) a monthly magazine published in the Soviet Union (still in existence at that time).
Immediately after WRO 89 had closed, the screening of its most interesting works had began. In early 1990 the museum of Art in Łódź organized a three day screening by the courtesy of Urszula Czartoryska(a Polish art historian known for her publications such as From pop-art to conceptual art). This has been the very first of many transfers and the beginning of the WRO On Tour project, which continues to function to this day.
Extensive presentations of the works by Polish artists were shown in France, Brazil, Germany, and Denmark marking the beginning of future collaborations between WRO and the rest of the world.
WRO 90 took place in two museums and the hall of Wroclaw philharmonic. Interactive installations have been presented for the first time in Poland and have used the spaces provided by the National Museum and the Museum of Architecture.
The closing concerts and performances of the festival have taken place in the Wroclaw Philharmonics and had reintroduced that space to young, alternative audience, which had caught the attention of the media, even resulting in a publication of an analysis of their outfits by a fashion section of a newspaper.
The first graphic design and animation workshops for television professionals have taken place in BWA Mały Salon Gallery (currently known as BWA Design Gallery). A long queue of interested participants formed along Świdnicka street every afternoon, when the gallery was about to be opened. Inside the gallery one could have not only seen the artists working on their projects but the graphic stations and powerful computers – equipment of power beyond the available to the Polish market back then – that had been brought from Berlin as well
WRO 91 has been the last of the December series of WRO festivals. It has been inaugurated by Bogdan Zdrojewski, the then mayor of Wroclaw who had officially taken the festival under his patronage. One of the most commonly discussed works has been the installation Perseweracja Mistyczna (Mystical Perseverance) by Zbigniew Libera exhibited in a museum space for the first time in Poland. Jozef Robakowski’s Exhibition Magia Zwierciadla (the Magic of Mirror) has been presented in Galeria MIejska.
Channel 2 of the Polish National Television had provided WRO with coverage on a daily basis, and a studio programme dedicated to electronic art had been aired live from the television studio. Said programme featured a competition for the best computer animation with the jury being the television audience. Over 5000 postcards had arrived from all over Poland In response to the competition (text messages and e-mail haven’t been introduced yet, and a TV call for voting has still been a novelty back then). The first prize winner had received an Apple Classic computer.
It has been for the first time that the uniqueness of video art – which finds itself between an independent gallery and widely available TV – had become a subject of an international symposium. A series of American works put together by the Video Data Bank of the Art Institute of Chicago has been shown alongside with a full retrospective of animated films by Jan Svankmajer has also been presented.
WRO received the Laterna Magica, an award handed out by the chairman of the cinematography committee at the ministry of art and culture.
Biennale WRO 93 has been the first WRO festival to take place in May. The cultural section of Gazeta Wyborcza had published a series of articles regarding WRO and the subject of electronic art. The festival programme included a large installation exhibition in the National Museum. Teatr Wspolczesny (the Contemporary Theatre) had provided the main stage for the most of the shows and performances to take place during the festival – among other works, thorough retrospectives of the classics: Bill Viola and Lynn Hershman have been presented.
New personages had appeared on the stage: Istvan Kantor – an experimenter and a performer, co-creator of the world neoism movement; and Zbigniew Karkowski, a composer living in Sweden and Japan known for the interactive sound emission through capturing sudden gestures made in the space of the installation.
Granular Synthesis, a group soon to begin a brilliant international career, had performed for the first time outside of Germany and Austria.
Christine van Assche, a member of WRO 93s international jury and a curator of Centre Georges Pompidou, said in her book published a year after, that WRO was one of the most significant European festivals that featured new ideas important for the development of art.
Tractatus, a video philosophical mantra based on the texts of Ludwig Wittgenstein with music by Tibor Szemzo receives a prize.
A video clip duel between Yach Paszkiewicz and Józef Robakowski which had taken place at night in the festival club set in the in a prop room in the Teatr Wspolczesny ‘s (Contemporary Theatre) basement had become legendary.
Corel Draw! Szkola Polska (Polish School) reminisced the computer workshops conducted during previous editions of WRO. A competition for a computer graphic design prepared using Corel Draw was held as a part of it. The software was a novelty in Poland and the winner of the contest would receive a gold bar as an award.
WRO was the first cultural event in Poland to receive the European Union’s patronage through the Eureka Audiovisuel programme.
For their consistent and continuous promotion of public interest in contemporary art and achievements in art marketing WRO received a Szeleszczace Ucho (Rustling Ear), an award by the public relations department of Gazeta Wyborcza. The WRO festival has also been included in the group of visual arts nominees for the first edition of the Paszport Polityki award.
Invited by Professor Stanislaw Pietraszko, WRO designs a “New Media Art” course programme, which soon became a standing part of the curriculum for the culture studies department of the University of Wroclaw.
WRO 94 Polish Monitor
In 1994 WRO has presented a special edition with a twenty year retrospective of Polish video art. The Duże Studio(Big Studio) of the Polish National TV has been transformed to a gallery of installations and performance. The studio audience had the chance to participate in the performances of Ryszard Jedros, Antoni Mikolajczyk, Artur Tajber, Maciej Walczak, and Grupa Lodz Kaliska. An installation by Lyzka Czyli Chilli group featuring sculptures talking to one another had been featured. Wladyslaw Kazmierczak’s Crash and Piotr Wyrzykowski’s Ucielesnienie (Embodiment) had instantly made history of Polish video performance. The special event of the Monitor had been the first Polish retrospective of works by Wladyslaw Starewicz, a pioneer of animated film in the beginning of XX century.
WRO 95, under the leading theme of “art between low and high technology”, had organized a series of lectures by Dieter Daniels, Erkki Huhtamo, and Douglas Davis. During Davis’ lecture the Internet has been used for artistic purposes for the first time in Poland.
An exhibition had been staged in BWA Awangarda gallery, featuring the first virtual reality installation to be exhibited in Poland – A-Volve, by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau, an installation mixing genetic and biotechnological programming. Nowadays it’s considered to be one of the most significant works of its genre. A Silicon Graphics Onyx computer had been brought from Switzerland especially for this installation, and had been insured for half a million dollars.
An extensive presentation of a collection of works on, cutting edge at the time, CD-ROMs had been held. The WRO catalogue had been published both as an interactive CD-ROM and a traditional hard copy. A test trial of a Web site had been launched.
Channel 2 of the Polish National Television had broadcasted a two-hour act, the Night of Composers comprised of audiovisual performances by Jaroslaw Kapuscinski, Tibor Szemzo and Mark Trayle, live during a late night programme.
WRO 96 Polish Monitor
The festival was dedicated to the domestic media creation under the theme “the Internet and Digital media”. Many events took place at the local train station, Dworzec Swiebodzki. The festival club scene took over some of the platforms. Among others, the Technopera 1.0 by C.U.K.T (Central Office of Technical Culture), and concerts by groups Trymigi (Janek Koza) and Spear (Maciej Ożóg) were staged there. A risky performance by Józef Robakowski “I am electric” was broadcasted live by the television. An exhibition of media installations and performances by among others, Grzegorz Zgraja and Anna Plotnicka took place at the main studio of a local branch of Polish National TV.
The WRO festival had officially changed its name to WRO International Media Art Biennale.
That year’s edition, under the title of Geo/info-territory was devoted to new phenomena: the world being shaped by new technologies, the emerging of a new, contemporary cartography influenced by the free flow of information meeting the geographically and politically determined divisions. During the international participants’ speeches the terms Deep Europe and Deep Culture have used for the first time in Poland. Among others, lectures were given by Lev Manovich (future author of a seminal publication, the Language of New Media), Jaron Lanier (an artist, a visionary and an inventor, the creator of the term “virtual reality”), and Stelarc (a performer, and a pioneer of the art based on biotechnology). Lanier’s audiovisual concert with the use of virtual instruments (broadcasted by national television Channel 2) and Stelarc’s several hour long performance in the Apocalypse room
of the Grotowski Institute have made history.
A television program about Stelarc produced in Wrocław has been broadcasted nationally a few months later and seen by over a million viewers. The curators of New York MoMA had presented a large selection of American performances, in Wrocław, for the first time in Europe. After the biennale the Museum of Modern Art in New York has shown a Polish video program for the first time in their history.
WRO 97 was the first artistic event in Poland to have its own, multimedia website and a CD-ROM with the festival’s documentation which 75000 copies of were distributed by a monthly magazine “CHIP”.
Festival WRO officially changes its name to International Biennale of Media Art WRO.
Biennale. This edition, under the title Geo/info-territory is devoted to new phenomena: the world being shaped by new technologies, emerging of a new, contemporary cartography influenced by a free flow of information which can be mapped onto geographically and politically determined divides.
International participants use terms Deep Europe and Deep Culture. Among others lectures are given by Lev Manovich (future author of seminal publication Language of New Media), Jaron Lanier (artist, visionary and inventor, creator of the term virtual reality) and Stelarc (performer, and pioneer of the art based on biotechnology). Lanier’s audiovisual concert with the use of virtual instruments (broadcasted by national television Channel 2) and Stelarc’s several hours performance in Appocalypse space of the Grotowski Institute make history.
Television program about Stelarc produced in Wroclaw will be broadcasted nationally few months later and watched by over million viewers. In Wroclaw curators of New York MoMA present for the first time in Europe a large selection of American performance art. After the biennale MoMA shows for the first time in New York Polish video program.
WRO 97 was the first artistic event in Poland to have its own, multimedia Internet site and CD-ROM with documentation of which 75000 copies were distributed by monthly magazine “CHIP”.
WRO 98 Media expression
A media performance festival with a rich international programme had included among others, the Technopera 5.0 by C.U.K.T with the participation of a New York singer Haleh Abghari and a performance by German–Canadian group Audio Ballerinas on the Wroclaw main square.
A live broadcast summarizing the five years of collaboration between WRO and Art Noc television channel had involved the participation of Maciej Maleńczuk, Ars Nova, Cezary Duchnowski, and Józef Robakowski.
A retrospective of a TV series – the WRO Mixed Tapes – and video works produced in collaboration between WRO and the Polish TV including, among others, the works of Piotr Wyrzykowski, Jarosław Kapuśćinski, Janek Koza, Yach Paszkiewicz and Piniszczy Group.
WRO received Wroclaw mayor’s annual award for cultural achievements.
WRO 99 – The power of tape
The theme of the last twentieth century WRO was the tape – film, audio, and videotape – and the role it played in the artistic Avant-garde of the century. It was a certain tribute to this medium during the early stages of the digital revolution and transformations which would soon make it obsolete as an artistic medium in the XXI century. The programme had included among others, a comprehensive review of Nam June Paik’s works, a complete retrospective of Warsztat Formy Filmowej, an extensive programme of Kino Absolutne, and found footage and experimental video. A separate programme, the 3 women, included works of VALIE EXPORT, Carolee Schneemann, and Natalia LL, the leading representatives of the feminist art movement.
The most significant events were the performance by Tomasz Stanko and Pociag Towarowy (Knittel/Choloniewski/Bikont) as an accompaniment to Murnau’s Faust; and the compositions by Jaroslaw Kapuscinski for the films by Oscar Fischinger and other abstract filmmakers.
The opening in the Swiebodzki train station, prepared in cooperation with STEIM (STudio for Electro Instrumental Music) – a well-known electroacoustic music centre located in Amsterdam – had been the first event in WRO’s history to have been broadcasted via the Internet.
A 200-page catalogue had been published during the WRO 99, quickly becoming a sought-after publication thanks to its unique materials and articles. The essays by Erkkieg Huhtamo and Piotr Krajewski included in the catalogue have been repeatedly reprinted in Japan and the US over the following years.
From video art to cyberspace (April/May)
A symposium and a minifestival devoted to the new possibilities of creation, integration, and sharing of audiovisual content via the Internet.
WRO 2000@culture (November/December)
WRO 2000@culture was a special millennial edition of WRO Biennale organised as a part of the celebrations of the 1000-year anniversary of the city of Wroclaw.
A huge exhibition of media installations with the participation of Laurie Anderson, Perry Hoberman, Jeffrey Shaw, Jill Scott, Paul Sermon, Piotr Wyrzykowski, Studio Azzurro, Yoshiyuki Abe, and many others took place in the National Museum, the Mathematics tower and the vast unutilised attic space of the university main building.
A congress Mediation/Medialisation has taken place with the participation of philosophers and artists from all over the world – among others, Derrick de Kerckhove, Roy Ascott, Siegfried Zielinski, Monika Fleischmann, Olja Lialina, Jozef Robakowski.
The congress was entirely devoted to then current cultural transformations, and during the discussions concerning these transformations the term Culture 2.0 has been used for the first time in Poland.
Stanislaw Lem’s message to WRO participants has been played via the Internet and the congress itself has been broadcasted via the web. For the next few years all the congress lectures have been available on-line through the internet broadcast archive. The first hacker attack on WRO site has taken place during the congress.
Cannons for Wroclaw, a composition for virtual worlds and orchestra written by Jarone Lanier has had its premiere in Aula Leopoldina. With the accompaniment of the chamber orchestra Leopoldinum under the direction of Michal Nestorowicz, the composer has performed the solo parts on the virtual instruments he had invented himself. A both figuratively and literally groundshaking Phill Niblock’s concert took place in Aula Leopoldina.
A rich, international club programme had been held for the millennial festivities in Baszta (the Tower), whose walls were adorned with Wilhelm Sasnal’s paintings. The consistently growing number of WRO visitors had exceeded a record number of 20 000.
WRO 01 The screens
The leading theme of WRO 01 concerned the then observed evolution of the social function of screens and their expansion into new areas of reality. During the lectures devoted to the history of screens in culture and artistic actions utilizing the atypical back then types of screens (cellular phones’ and other communication devices’ screens or large displays set in public spaces). The lectures have been contucteed by among others, Sally Jane Norman, Walter van der Cruijsen (ASCII Art Ensamble ), Alexiej Shulgin, Mashiko Kusahara.
Performance On Demand by Anna Płotnicka, a performance utilising the feedback from the internet audience has made history.
Within only a couple of days the i-club, organized in the large empty industrial spaces in the city centre had enjoyed great popularity and had been used for performances and audiovisual concerts, featuring among others, a cult Cyberpunk-rock band, the 386 DX and Gameboyzz Orchestra with their debut show.
WRO 2003 Globalica
The main theme of this WRO edition were individual artistic strategies in consideration of the advancing globalization. The internet communication area was used to give performances in (Ping Melody by Paweł Janicki), a set of sophisticated interactive techniques was used in multimedia acoustic music concerts (4 hands). The urban space had been used for performances as well.
Artistic projects using wireless networks had been presented for the first time. Wi-Fi had been introduced to the audience.
Until that point WRO Biennale had made a very clear distinction between the competition part solely devoted to video works, and the part of the programme comprised of performances, special events and exhibitions, although in 2005 a new approach had been introduced. The competition had become open to most media forms and had no longer classified the applications into categories. That approach emphasized the diversity and progress of the media in art. For the first time the number of applications received from all over the world had exceeded 1000 entries.
A special exhibition in the National Museum dedicated to the subject of the Inna Książka(The Other Book) through the works of Ken Feingold, Masaki Fujihata, Romy Achituv, and Camille Utterback had allowed Ira Marom to show various, non-printed, interactive forms of text responsive to the presence and actions of a viewer, and transpiring from the virtual environment to the real world.
The most significant parts of the programme were the thorough retrospectives of the Azorro Super Group, Robert Cahen, and Józef Robakowski, as well as a film-performance for micro objects by Julien Maire, and the Polish premiere of a documentary by Lutz Dammbeck, Das Netz, using the unabomber’s (Ted Kaczynski’s) example to discuss an individual’s protest against progress leading acts of terror.
QR codes had been used to present the programme and the content of artistic events for the first time in Poland.
“The Night of Archivists” – During the symposium, the participants from Canada, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland had dedicated their speeches to the archives of modern art in context of the Internet as a global archive of cultural elements. The concept of a an archive as a piece of art and a piece of art as an archive had emerged during the symposium, later developed in the program of Centrum Sztuki WRO. Incite, an electroacoustic audio-video duet (Kera Nagel and André Aspelmeier) had their grand debut in Poland. Scanner (Robin Rambound) and D-Fuse had also made an appearance.
An interactive internet film, Sufferrosa, by Dawid Marcinkowski has had its premiere during the festival.
Obrazy Energetyczne(Energetic Images), the first comprehensive multimedia monograph of Józef Robakowski, the most important pioneer of media art in Poland, has been presented. (editorial supervision by V. and P. Krajewski)
WRO Art Center
On February 29th WRO Art Center opened its doors at 7 Widok Street.
Interactive Playground, produced by WRO became a benchmark for new art education standards and received a “Warto”(worth it) award from Gazeta Wyborcza. The exhibition had been developed further and presented twenty times in Poland and abroad and had been visited by a record number of over 200 000 viewers. Jetzt by Mirosław Bałka and Driving Media by Nam June Paik had received a lot of attention. The latter had been recommended by International Herald Tribune. The first fully digital Polish media reading room had been launched and allowed the access to several thousand video works and documentations. Since the very beginning all WRO Art Center activities have been free and open to the public.
WRO 09 Expanded city
The WRO09 theme was the city as a structure entirely becoming a contemporary medium. One of the first foreign performances of the Russian anarchist art group, Voina, had taken place during the Biennale.
Ukryta Dekada (the Hidden Decade) – an exhibition and a publication –
was the first summary of Polish media art of the 80s and 90s of that size.
Mobilny Nadajnik Radiowy (the Mobile radio transmitter), a performance by Kasia Krakowiak, an artist who had represented Poland in the 2012 Biennale of Architecture in Venice, has been given during the events.
Małe WRO (Little WRO) – a special educational programme for the youngest audience had been included in Biennale’s program for the first time. It soon became an example of a good practice for other well-known festivals focused on the aspect of learning.
WRO Biennale has not only been mentioned among the most important media art festivals but among the most significant media biennales of contemporary art. (Edward Shanken, Art and Electronic Media).
WRO 2011 – Alternative Now
In terms of program and organization the 2011 edition of WRO had the most complex so far: 11 venues offering the audience a diverse programme of exhibitions, shows and actions. It had also attracted the biggest audience – over 40 000 visitors. The most popular sites were the installations on the main square, the exhibitions in the Pokoyhof passage – spaces in the city centre open to the public for the first time – as well as at the National Museum and the WRO Art Center. The exhibition at the WRO Art Center was a result of a two year European project realized together with five other leading European new art centers. The WRO Resume exhibition, which had crowned the Biennale, has later been exhibited in Spain and Romania.
The 2012 edition of Art Spaces Directory, featuring 400 most interesting art spaces in 96 countries, had listed the WRO Art Center as one of the six most important in Poland.
15th Media Art Biennale WRO 2013 – PIONEERING VALUES
2013, 8th May – 30th September
The 15th jubilee edition of the WRO Biennale is held under the motto of PIONEERING VALUES in the context of the 50th anniversary of electronic art to explore the artistic and cultural values developed and still developing in and through new media art.
Addressing both the recent history and the present moment, the program of exhibitions, screenings, performances, workshops, and artistic interventions in public space spans eighteen different locations across central Wroclaw, many of which are historically – and some even currently – related to art only tenuously, if at all. The venues include the National Museum (the former Governorship building), the WRO Art Center (Wrocław’s first electric coffee roasting plant), the Entropia Gallery, the SiC! BWA Gallery, the Art Brut Gallery, the Cocofli café, the WRO Atelier (flats and shops of bourgeois tenements), the White Stork Synagogue, the Lower Silesian Film Center, the New Horizons Cinema, and places where art makes an exceptional appearance, such as the deserted building of the Ballestrem Palace, the postindustrial spaces of Pokoyhof, and the Renoma Department store.
Very recent artworks selected from among the 1,500 entries from all over the world are presented alongside retrospectives of eminent media art pioneers, therein the masters of the genre, such as VALIE EXPORT and Steina and Woody Vasulka – the celebrated founders of New York’s famous The Kitchen gallery and experimenters in sound and image, engaged in art-making since the 1960s.
The movie screenings at the Lower Silesian Film Center include Tune in Screening: Psychedelic Moving Images from Socialist Yugoslavia 1966-1976, a program of experimental Yugoslavian films compiled by Branko Franceschi, films and videos from the famous Arteast 2000+ collection selected by the Moderna Galerija (Museum of Modern Art, Lublana), a new international program of recent award-winning experimental films and video works put together especially for the WRO by Austria’s sixpackfilm, and the Cinema for the Ear , a project developed by the American group ((audience)).
Notable among the screen works on display is Rabih Mroué’s famed The Pixelated Revolution, consisting of video footage recorded with mobile phones by people living in Syria during the revolution.
The 2013 WRO hosts the premieres of Fragmented Media, a recent project by the 2011 WRO-award winners incite/; Hermes, a robotic opera by Karl Heinz Jeron of Germany, in which robots perform the libretto based on excerpts of phone conversations picked up on public transport; an innovative project by the Swiss Cod.Act group entitled the Pendulum Choir, in which a choral concert takes place on a tilting pneumatic platform; the installation Vinyl Rally by Lucas Abela of Australia (go-cart races across a track of records); a performance of the Paris-based audiovisual, installation, and video artist Cécile Babiole; and Touchy, an interactive action of Tokyo’s Eric Siu, whose electronic vision device will enable him to see during interactions with the audience.
The issues of perception are also explored by the eyeborg , a device that makes it possible to hear colors, constructed by Adam Montadon for Neil Harbisson of Spain, who is officially recognized by Great Britain as a cyborg and whose ID features a photo of him with a camera fitted over his forehead.
The highlights of the 2013 WRO are the European premiere of Breaking the Frame, a film by Mariella Nitosławska about Carolee Schneemann, a pioneering performance and body-art artist, and a show of Miroslaw Bałka’s recent artworks produced especially for the WRO Art Center.
Among the Polish projects, Kama Sokolnicka’s site-specific installation Mirage and Karolina Freino’s Chansons de geste are particularly eye-catching and thought-provoking.
The 2013 WRO is marked by the closing chapter of Artist Talk, an EU-funded collaborative project of the WRO Art Center, Ljubljana’s Museum of Transitory Art, and the Prague-based CIANT. The Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wroclaw hosts international experts for a panel session within the EU project of DCA – Digitising Contemporary Art, under which the WRO Art Center engages in the digitalization of modern art to be shared via the Europeana portal.
TEST EXPOSURE 2015 WRO Biennale
13th May – 30th June, 2015
This year’s call for entries produces record-breaking numbers as over 2,300 submissions have come in from artists from all over the world.
Consistently with the motto of TEST EXPOSURE, a series of open reviews gives the general public an opportunity to take part in developing the Biennale’s program for the first time in its history. TEST EXPOSURE also means putting art on display at unconventional venues, e.g. in the new building of the University Library or private apartments.
A considerable part of the 2015 WRO events is primarily devoted to young artists. This is perhaps best exemplified in the 1st Competition for Media Arts Graduation Projects completed at Poland’s eight public art universities – in Gdansk, Katowice, Cracow, Lodz, Poznan, Szczecin, Warsaw, and Wroclaw – in 2014.
The 2015 WRO also heralds the City of the Future festival, one of the European Capital of Culture Wroclaw 2016 events. The festival marks its presence at the Biennale with a series of talks and debates on Hacking the Social Operating System (curated by Edwin Bendyk).
Several works and installations have their first showings ever during the WRO. Among the exhibits at the University Library there are Suzanne Treister’s (UK) original and suggestive composition of an installation, grids, large-format prints, charts, and maps, which visually represents the birth and rise of modernity, with its civilizational, political, and social achievements and limitations; and Captives – an installation by Quayola (IT/UK), inspired by Michelangelo’s unfinished series Prigioni and consisting of sculptures carved by a robot presented together with digital sculptures in the form of computer animations, the sound environment and a set of photographs. Multitudes and Encontros – installations by well-known Brazilian experimenters Lucas Bambozzi (BR) and Gilbertto Prado (BR), respectively – tackle issues of telematic communication. Cécile Babiole’s (FR) installation relies on an arranged water network to enable the visitors to have a conversation based o short text messages. Five Robots Named Paul, a kinetic installation by Patrick Tresset (FR/UK), is a “theatre of drawing” performed by self-learning, intelligent robots which, stuck to their drawing boards, produce in real time an exhibition of portraits of the viewers who decide to sit for them. And the audience’s singing is responded to by the ECHOOOOOOO – a robotic choir of loudspeakers devised by panGenerator (PL).
Performance arts combined with music are uniquely represented by INFRA_Exposure, a work which continues to develop until the end of the exhibition, composed by Kasper T. Toeplitz (FR/PL), a French composer and instrumentalist, one of the most original figures of contemporary music. He devised a sound installation, including an artist who is staging an ongoing live performance. During the opening event, Toeplitz will “supplement” the piece, playing double bass-and-computer passages and, in this way, creating the as-yet longest composition in the INFRA series.
Other extraordinary, spectacular sound and musical performances include concerts of Zenial (PL) in collaboration with Adam Donovan (AU), of Joachim Montessuis (FR), Bioni Samp (UK), wechselstrom (DE), and Ya-Wen Fu (TW), performed on the Świebodzki Stage of the Polish Theater.
The 2015 WRO also features collaborative projects of the National Forum of Music and the Musica Electronica Nova festival. For the opening of the MEN festival, Brise-Glace will combine the first ever rendition of a piece by the composer Luca Ferrari (FR), who passed away 10 years ago, with the archival video footage compiled by the WRO. The Museum Night will host the opening of From Inside, an interactive, spatial video installation by the MEN’s resident composer Thierry De Mey (FR).
The events of the TEST EXPOSURE 2015 WRO Biennale are distributed across ten sites (from museums and galleries, to the new building of the University Library, theatre stages and an old train station, to public spaces an private apartments) and attract over one hundred thousand visitors.
The main prize of the 2015 WRO goes ex aequo to Michael Candy for his kinetic light sculpture Big Dipper and to Agata Kus for her multichannel video installation The Mistress. The critics and publishers of art magazines award their special prize to Elvin Flamingo for his installation The Symbiosity of Creation.
ECO EXPANDED CITY
May – June, 2016
An international project within the City of the Future / Laboratory Wroclaw relies on artistic and design practices to explore imagined and real, past, already historical and yet potential relationships of society, art., nature, and technology, highlighting their interpenetrations and interdependences. The events take place in 2016, a year marked by the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia, a vision of a perfect world.
Scattered across Wrocław – from the WRO Art Center, to the White Stork Synagogue, the Pokoyhof Passage, the Renoma Department Store, to the National Forum of Music and a forest within the city bounds – the exhibitions, performances, and artistic projects in the urban space present artistic visions, hopes, and problems engendered by the contemporary shifts and turns.
The program of shows is opened by the Second Body, a performance by Taiwan’s Anarchy Dance Theatre, reflecting the intricate web of contemporary relationships linking the human being, motion, the city, and data collection. The digital theater of movement enacts the human digital/second body on-stage as it transfigures reality and re-defines the notion of physical embedment in the new data-based civilization.
The events address an array of issues, such as:
– the flow, accumulation, and interpretation of data (e.g., the large-format one-channel video 20 Hz by the British Semiconductor, visualizing geomagnetic storms in the upper strata of the Earth’s atmosphere; Akira Wakita’s installation Furnished Fluid which generates in real time the flow of air we do not notice in our daily lives and highlights the new dimensions of 21st-century design in juxtaposition with the 20th-century iconic designs; Moonbell, an interactive installation of the Selene group which plays music based on the processing of the lunar topographic data from the SELENE orbital probe and enables the audience to develop their own sound compositions, a collaborative project of researchers and artists affiliated with Japan’s space research agency);
– bio-mimesis, post-genomics, and digital rendering of the natural world (e.g., Botech Compositions, ornamental projections of Makoto Murayama, which represent quasi-organic forms and the digital botany framed as an electronic atlas of nature; AKI INOMATA’s Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs?, a work in which computer tomography are employed to give crabs homes resembling famous sights and works of architecture; Ai Hasegawa’s I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin, which delves into synthetic biology to imagine a point in the future when people support animal species employing advanced technologies of synthetic biology; and Elvin Flamingo’s musical performance SHMIB involving living Atta Sexdens ants whose sounds blend with human instrumentalists in a symbiotic communication to produce music);
– new cousins in the human family – an android as a servant and an android as a superhuman, the world transformed by people, people transformed by machines (e.g., Perpetual Demolition, an installation by Simon Laroche and David Szanto in which a machine feeds a human being, and Vincent and Emily, an installation by Nikolas Schmid-Pfähler and Carolin Liebl involving two willful robots);
– the problems of overconsumption and overproduction, a surfeit of objects, purchasing, and loss of value (e.g., Junkspace, an installation-cum-application by Lynn Cazabon, which shows debris littering the Earth’s orbit);
– visionary concepts of the city as a creative, topographically mutating, and temporally non-linear space shared with nature and continually appropriated (e.g., artistic objects in the form of giant megaphones and shelters in one, produced by Estonian students of Design and placed in the public space of a forest within the city bounds to enable the visitors to listen to the amplified noises of nature; Germination, a project of the French electronic music composer Jean-Luc Hervé as part of the collaboration with the 7th Musica Electronica Nova festival, devised as an instrumental piece performed inside the concert hall of the National Forum of Music and a sonic installation hidden among the germinating plants in the square in front of it; and Uncultivated, a multilayered project of Lynn Cazabon which involves compiling the geo-referential photographic database, particularly including public displays, putting up Internet websites, and launching participatory events with the local communities).
Among the works on display, there are also contextual artworks: Hajime Narukawa’s AuthaGraph which shows a tetrahedral projection of the world map, and 13 large-format photographs from the collection of Grażyna Kulczyk documenting the visionary concepts developed by Buckminster Fuller.
DRAFT SYSTEMS 2017 WRO Biennale
17th May – 4th October, 2017
The motto – DRAFT SYSTEMS – refers to the mutability of systems that regulate the world, highlights their complexity and instability, emphasizes their ephemeral, control-evading nature, and illuminates the ongoing re-organization of reality.
Among the artworks on display, an iconic status is certainly due to HFT The Gardener by Suzanne Treister whose multifaceted construction obliterates the boundaries between art, nature, language, mathematic, economy, and the trauma of history, highlights the correlations and principles of economic decision-making dissociated from scientific insights, shows mysticism and psychedelia resonating with the world market, and dwells on the feedback loop between esotericism and the economy/financial sector. The Facebook Algorithmic Factory attends to the processes we undergo when transforming from a user to a commodity of the capital market. The Cyanometer, a monument located in the urban space, measures the blueness of the sky and registers the pollution level at the same time.
The WRO Biennale also serves as a platform for presenting experimental practices of Polish artists. Paweł Janicki shows his project RPN, which explores the possible artistic uses of the Reverse Polish Notation, a historic achievement of what came to be called the Lviv-Warsaw Polish School of Mathematics, an internationally renowned center of philosophical and logical thought back in the day. The collaboration of the WRO Biennale and the Musica Electronica Nova festival helps Maciej Markowski develop his new installation Mute Music together with John Zorn.
Among the May events, a special place is taken by the project presentations of participants in the artists-in-residence program run by the WRO Art Center. In the vicinity of Wroclaw’s East park, Andrey Ustinov offers a nocturnal cross-breed of a show, an installation, and a performance entitled Film Noir. The latest work of Carolin Liebl and Nikolas Schmid-Pfähler – a kinetic object suspended and moving in the electromagnetic field – is inspired by their stay at the WRO Art Center and workshops with the young audience.
Held during the Biennale, the Networks of Culture meeting, attended by the leading experts on digital culture and communication such as Alek Tarkowski, Mirosław Filiciak, and Paweł Janicki, serves as a discussion forum to assess the state of digital culture in Poland and explore the Internet as a model affecting the entirety of culture.
The Biennale also hosts the 3rd Competition for Media Art Graduation Projects held by the WRO Art Center and Wroclaw’s Academy of Art and Design, which showcases the most interesting graduation projects developed at Poland’s public art universities in Gdansk, Katowice, Cracow, Lodz, Poznan, Szczecin, Warsaw, and Wroclaw.
Of course, the Biennale’s program also features Little WRO, a special series of events for children and their families. This year’s program of Little WRO is co-designed by the Kraszewski family – the friends of the WRO Art Center and participants in the WRO activities since 2008.
The events of the WRO Biennale are heralded by Poland’s first solo show of Norimichi Hirakawa.
The Camouflage at the Koszyki Hall and beyond the seven at the Słowo Polskie Printing
House are exhibitions that represent the 2017 WRO Biennale in Warsaw.