Introduction by Binder & Haupt:
The "transmediale," Berlin’s festival for new media which annually compiles interesting digital-culture projects, is a forum devoted to understanding art, technology and society. Using "BASICS" as its theme, the extensive exhibition-, presentation-, and conference program of the 2005 transmediale examined the basics of artistic work made with digital technologies.
In one of the many lectures, Ricardo Mbarkho discussed media art in Lebanon. The media artist and professor of art and video at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, born 1974 in Beirut, prefaced his remarks with an illustrated chronology of Lebanon’s history. In his opinion, this "does not necessarily represent what every Lebanese citizen is obsessed with," but Mbarkho is convinced that many of these events and images belong to the "collective, hidden standards and certitudes of the Lebanese people". In addition, this is important source material for the questioning processes of artists and their search for artistic answers. According to Mbarkho, religion, politics, war, and the postwar situation in Lebanon’s multicultural society, inevitably effect the identity and the sense of belonging of people who live in Lebanon or come from there.
The lecturer gave insight into the official and private education system in his country, where art students have limited but meanwhile improving possibilities for receiving an education in the new media field. He described those places where artists currently show this type of work, and how a number of art-, cultural-, and commercial institutions are presently initiating projects and making a certain amount of financial support available for them. Mbarkho particularly stressed the private initiatives which make a great effort to organize events for the new media. Some of these, such as Zico House, have been active since 1990. Among the more interesting developments in recent years are the "video nights" for experimental art, staged in private homes.
In conclusion, Ricardo Mbarkho presented a selection of works created by art colleagues and by himself (see the photo pages).
We thank Ricardo Mbarkho for making these images and the accompanying information available to us, and for the permission to publish his text.
>> Lecture by Ricardo Mbarkho
* 1974 Beirut, Lebanon. New Media artist and University professor; lives and works in France and Lebanon.
International Media Art Festival in Berlin
4 - 8 February 2005