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Mediamatic Off-Line. Vol 11, No. 1 and No. 2

by Paul Groot, Editor
Mediamatic Foundation, Amsterdam, 2006
16 pp., illus. b/w. Includes DVD, region-free, PAL
Subscriptions, 33 Euros/ 3 copies per year
Distributed by Idea Books, http://www.ideabooks.nl
ISBN: 907-4728-332; ISBN: 907-4728-340.

Reviewed by Rob Harle


This review is concerned with the so-called art magazine - Mediamatic Off-Line - volume 11, nos. #1 and #2. The physical presentation of the magazine is similar to that of the children’s Golden Book series. A thick cardboard cover, with short articles, each accompanied by an image. A DVD is included with each edition that shows the same artist’s work as reviewed in the magazine. The DVD is in region-free, PAL format, and the producers ask us to, "Please personalize with sound".

I say so-called because the publication is more like a brief catalogue than an art magazine, most of which include in-depth critical essays of artists and their work. #1 features twelve artworks and #2 ten. The text accompanying one black & white image per artist throughout Mediamatic is more a description of the artworks and what the artist’s purpose was in creating it, than a critical appraisal of its impact, success or relevance.

In #1 the artists represented were asked, "to think up a projection for the façade of the Mediamatic Supermarket building". For #2 the assignment was, "to portray the dynamics of the city", however, the artists seem to have had a hidden agenda to portray the differences between man and woman? Paul Groot the editor, then, poses the rhetorical question (inside cover #1), "But who still dares to claim anything is typically male or female?" There are a number of these provocative type comments throughout Mediamatic!

Mediamatic is, "…a media cultural space. We do exhibitions, public presentations and artist workshops, we co-produce media artist’s work, we publish on line [www.mediamatic.net] and off line". The cultural space is physically in the Netherlands and most of the artists are Dutch. Much of the action is concentrated in or near the IJ tunnel, which as I understand it, takes traffic north out of Amsterdam. One artwork Tunnel Vision by Jasper Van Den Brink consists of a video camera attached to the revolving barrel of a concrete mixer travelling through the tunnel, even the still shot has a vertiginous effect! (p. 9 #2)

The publication is an easy pleasurable read and provides a good idea of what each artist is attempting to express. Unfortunately the DVD proved to be a most frustrating viewing experience. After pressing Play, I was presented with a list of the various artists superimposed over a small central screen. After selecting an artist and clicking OK, a brief preview of the artist’s work ran on the small screen, together with the highly irritating sound loop of city traffic. I selected artist two, same thing. It was only by accident that I discovered, if I held the OK button on the TV/DVD player remote for over two seconds, the full work, on the full screen was played. Excellent! Why didn’t the editor provide instructions on how to use this idiosyncratic DVD? Without knowing this, the DVDs are worse than useless!

The artworks presented in Mediamatic are varied, interesting, and a few of them "groundbreaking". The back cover blurb insists all are "groundbreaking". Some are actually quite banal and despite the new medium being used are just rehashes of well-worn themes, despite protestations of the artists that they are trying to transcend fossilized art. This review is not intended to critique or discuss the actual artworks in any detail, so I will leave that to the prospective viewer who may choose to do so after becoming aware of such artworks through this brief catalogue/magazine. Nearly all artists represented use photography, either still or video, as an essential part of their artistic projects. Their work is projected outdoors and in this production "…is transformed into internal wallpaper".

Mediamatic is published three times a year and the subscription rate is 33 Euros. I guess that if only to keep one informed of the latest art projects happening in and around Amsterdam that is not too much money to pay. The editors call for, "…interesting projects to publish on cd-rom or dvd". So it may be worth checking out for new media artists for this reason as well.



Updated 1st October 2006

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