User:Dusan Barok/Monoskop library (project proposal)

From Media Design: Networked & Lens-Based wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Distributed library of media arts and culture


Jewna Jakobson, calculating machine, ca 1770.
László Moholy-Nagy, Untitled, ca. 1922-24. Gelatin silver print.
El Lissitzky, Proun room, 1923.
Henryk Berlewi, Kontrasty Mekanofakturowe, 1924. Gouache, 83x109 cm.
Pál Selényi, experiments with oscillograph, 1930.
Milan Grygar, Acoustic Drawing A18, 1968. Indian ink, cogged wheel, mechanical toy (hen), teetotum, paper.
Sigma group, Ansamblu Mobil, 1970. Suspended aluminium plates, 350x120x30 cm.
Steina and Woody Vasulka, Noisefields, 1974. Video still.

Throughout the years I collected roughly 100 gigabytes of experimental films, video art, electroacoustic music, scanned copies of computer-aided paintings, graphics, prints, and numerous publications covering media arts and culture in east-central Europe, which currently sit on my harddrive. I have included content I thought is relevant for otherwise under-developed history of media culture in this region. The collection is only a tip of an iceberg, and is still very far from giving a balanced perspective on the culture it undertook to document. To move on, I realised I have to abandon the idea of a personal collection, and begin treating it as a initial phase, a starting point for development of multimedia resource maintained by a peer network, in other words, make it public.

The idea can be traced back to 2004 when I was part of Burundi media lab in Bratislava, Slovakia. We were a group with varied backgrounds which organised free software workshops, moderated evenings of media theory, a media culture festival, street projects, recycled hardware, and so on. The culture we were part of, whatever niche it was, was perceived as "new media". The main thing we struggled with was a limit to an audience we could reach. Recurring questions were what makes new media "new" if computers have been around for half a century already, why does the humankind need a noise music, or what makes signal processing "art". Interdisciplinarity and international networks we were part of were not enough to legitimize our work. It was mainly this frustration which led me to dig more into past and track "new media" culture back to before it was "new". To document the process, I set up a wiki website, Monoskop, which quickly led to serve as an independent platform for a research of media culture in Europe.

Editing on Monoskop wiki is open to everyone, similarly to Wikipedia, and within seven years it grew to include a numerous overviews, from academy programs, to cultural servers and mailing lists. As well as cultures which emerged from local and international grassroots networks (Tactical Media, Open Spectrum, FLOSS), corporations (Web 2.0), academies (Digital Humanities), and online (surf clubs). Monoskop is unique in particular focus on local scenes, mapped in city entries which cover moreless the last two decades. Country pages dive deeper into history, and follows history of new media and technology back to 1910s while looking at how it interesected with the art and at the culture which emerged around such intersections.

While collecting bibliographies I could only find literature that covers small fragments of this field. This led me together with Tomas Kovacs to launch a side project, Monoskop/log, to (re)publish electronic versions of books, journals, catalogues, and theses related to media culture. It took two years to realise that among nearly 2000 publications on the blog, there is only a fraction that deals with media culture in central and eastern Europe particularly. I also noticed that many media departments at the schools follow a mix of American and national discourse, while there is a lot to say about the whole region. I created a page on the wiki, some kind of an entry gate to this field in the central and eastern Europe.

What is missing there, among other things, are the artworks. This is mainly due to the original decision not to dig too much into copyright issues on the wiki. So the CDs, DVDs, files scraped from websites, downloaded private torrents, closed academic archives I collected throughout the years ended up on my harddrives. However, experience and positive feedback Monoskop/log has received convinced me that it does make sense to share it. Which brings me back to the archive I mentioned at the beginning. How to make it public?

Current structure

Monoskop - Source Documents for Media Arts in East-Central Europe/
│   ├── Alge
│   ├── Bauhaus
│   ├── Berlewi, Henryk
│   ├── Contimporanul
│   ├── De Stijl
│   ├── Fulla, Ľudovít
│   ├── Gabo, Naum
│   ├── Kallai, Erno
│   ├── Kassák, Lajos
│   ├── Klutsis, Gustav
│   ├── Lissitzky, El
│   ├── Malevich, Kazimir
│   ├── Micić, Ljubomir
│   ├── Modern Architecture
│   ├── Moholy-Nagy, László
│   ├── Molnár, Farkas
│   ├── Productivists
│   ├── Punct
│   ├── Rodchenko, Alexander
│   ├── Strzemiński, Wladyslaw
│   ├── Tatlin, Vladimir
│   ├── VKhUTEMAS
│   ├── Zenit
│   └── Literature
│   └── Literature
│   ├── Grygar, Milan
│   └── Literature
│   ├── Acimovic-Godina, Karpo
│   ├── Antonisz, Julian Józef
│   ├── Bódy, Gábor
│   ├── Borowczyk, Walerian
│   ├── Burian, E.F.; Zahradníček, Čeněk
│   ├── Dodal, Karel; Dodalová, Irena
│   ├── Ďurček, Ľubomír
│   ├── Forgacs, Peter
│   ├── Frič, Martin
│   ├── Gotoslav, Tomislav
│   ├── Hammid, Alexander
│   ├── Havrilla, Vladimir
│   ├── Kinema Ikon
│   ├── Kinoautomat
│   ├── Kováč, Ctibor
│   ├── Kristl, Vlado
│   ├── Królikiewicz, Grzegorz
│   ├── Kučera, Jan
│   ├── Kucia, Jerzy
│   ├── Lehovec, Jiří
│   ├── Lenica, Jan
│   ├── Makavejev, Dušan
│   ├── Matić, Ivica
│   ├── Moholy-Nagy, László
│   ├── Narkevicius, Deimantas
│   ├── Neumann, Hieronim
│   ├── Petek, Vladimir
│   ├── Rybczynski, Zbigniew
│   ├── Skolimowski, Jerzy
│   ├── Slivka, Martin
│   ├── Themerson, Stefan and Franciszka
│   ├── VA - Anthology of Polish Experimental Animation (1944 - 2007) DVD
│   ├── VA - Hungarian short films - Vol. 1
│   ├── VA - Hungarian short films - Vol. 2
│   ├── VA - Serbian Alternative Film 1950-1990
│   ├── Vávra, Otakar
│   ├── Vertov, Dziga
│   ├── Warsztat Formy Filmowej
│   └── Literature
│   ├── Jakobson, Jewna
│   └── Literature
│   ├── Bánkövi, Gyula
│   ├── Chojnacka, Elisabeth
│   ├── Detoni, Dubravko
│   ├── Dobrowolski, Andrzej
│   ├── Dumitrescu; Avram; Hodgkinson; Cutler
│   ├── Hyperion Ensemble
│   ├── Jovanovic, Arsenije
│   ├── Knížák, Milan
│   ├── Koenig; Pongrácz; Riehn
│   ├── Kotonski, Wlodzimierz
│   ├── Krček, Jaroslav
│   ├── Lazarov, Simo
│   ├── Ligeti, György
│   ├── Malec, Ivo
│   ├── Marbe, Myriam
│   ├── Mazurek, Bohdan
│   ├── Nemescu, Octavian
│   ├── Penderecki, Krzysztof
│   ├── Piňos; Blatný; Ištvan; Štědroň
│   ├── Pongrácz, Zoltán
│   ├── Rääts, Jaan
│   ├── Rudnik, Eugeniusz
│   ├── Slovakia
│   ├── Szigeti, István
│   ├── VA - Elektroakusticka hudba
│   ├── VA - Radioacustica Selected 2003
│   ├── VA - Radioacustica Selected 2009
│   └── Literature
│   └── Literature
│   └── Literature
│   └── Literature
│   └── Literature
│   ├── Byte
│   ├── Dróżdż, Stanisław
│   ├── Epure, Sherban
│   ├── Flondor, Constantin
│   ├── PAGE
│   ├── Sayler, Diet
│   ├── Sýkora, Zdeněk
│   └── Literature
├── 12 VIDEO
│   ├── Art in Windows (2000) CD
│   ├── Barla Videojournal CD
│   ├── From Monument To Market (Od Monumentu do Marketu, 2005) DVD
│   ├──
│   ├── Mediálne umenie na Slovensku (2006) DVD
│   ├── Petr Skala - A Hidden Experimenter (1969-1993) DVD
│   ├── Robakowski, Józef
│   ├── Ronai, Peter
│   ├── Transitland collection
│   ├── Vasulkas
│   ├── Vipotnik, Miha
│   └── Literature
│   ├── Abbildungen Variete
│   ├── Aporea
│   ├── Mario Marzidovsek
│   ├── Naj
│   ├── NSRD et al
│   ├── P.P. Nikt
│   └── Literature
│   ├── Hlinka, Zden
│   ├── Szegedy-Maszák, Zoltán
│   ├── Yugoslav and Serbian Demoscene (1994-2001)
│   └── Literature
    ├── Arkzin
    ├── Arns, Inke
    ├── Cseres, Jozef
    ├── Czegledy, Nina
    ├── Dan, Cãlin
    ├── Denegri, Jerko
    ├── Fabuš, Palo
    ├── flusserstudies-CS-issue
    ├── Flusser, Vilém
    ├── Frakcija
    ├── Further literature
    ├── Groys, Boris
    ├── Gržinić, Marina
    ├── IDEA
    ├── Interviu
    ├── Kelomees, Raivo
    ├── Kluszczynski, Ryszard
    ├── Long April
    ├── Meštrović, Matko
    ├── Murin, Michal
    ├── Peternák, Miklós
    ├── Piotrowski, Piotr
    ├── Pospiszyl, Tomas
    ├── Praktyka Teoretyczna
    ├── Prelom
    ├── Red Thread
    ├── Rišková, Mária
    ├── Scholz, Trebor
    ├── Sei, Keiko
    ├── TkH
    ├── van Belle, Guy
    ├── Vojtechovský, Miloš
    └── Further literature


In December I participated at a seminar at Mama club in Zagreb, Croatia, to discuss the idea of a library for the first time in public. I gave a wider introduction to the project and the following discussions helped me to articulate what is crucial.

To sum up, publishing of the archive is aimed (1) to reach the widest audience including researchers, (2) to involve more people in sharing the rare content, and (3) to maintain public access.

The aim is not to create a grand historical narrative interweaving the content together, but rather to provide source documents, to unlock the resources, so that multiple art histories can be produced.

Even though there are thousands of various databases and archives with advanced search options, the most people and researchers search Google database to get the content. Therefore, if the archive is about to 'open source' the art history it shall be indexed by search bots.

Work plan

Let the archive be indexed by crawlers by publishing it on a wiki

Rethink the folder structure [ (updating here)]. Upload archive to a server, possibly in several rounds. Install Semantic Mediawiki extension to the Monoskop wiki, which already includes hundreds of artist biographies and contextual information. Create semantic templates for artists, works, and fields there. Make semantic wiki pages for particular works from the archive, linking them to the media file on the server; make use of the Mediawiki Widgets. Consider distributed video streaming. Embed published works within artist pages: this will create Wikipedia-style artist profiles which also include preview of artworks -- impossible on Wikipedia due to copyright limitations. Publish the updates across social media, aim for the widest reach, ask for new contributions.

Distribute the archive across the peer network via dumps and torrents

Make wiki content dumps, one package for all text, all images, all video files, and all sound files. Create torrent backups for each package using BurnBit torrent backup system, which is also used by Wikipedia. Alternatively, contact and for mirrors. Announce packages and torrents across social media.

Situate the works within various online contexts as curated selections

Propose the selections to curated online archives such as Ubu, and create the readers and media anthologies on popular filesharing platforms,, Karagarga torrent tracker, and so on. These can be done in collaboration with invited artists and cultural practitioners, building upon their works, syllabi, or other research.

Data analysis

Make use of semantic annotation, create special pages using inline queries. Analyse collected works using computational methods from digital humanities and software studies. Publish the scripts.

Recent works


Faceleaks is a Firefox/Chrome add-on which attaches a leak button to Facebook photos, allowing user to leak them to website which has a visual appearance of Wikileaks Cablegate website.

The browser add-on is a Greasemonkey user script written in JavaScript language and subsequently compiled to XPI format compatible with Firefox browsers. The add-on was then pointed to forward the leaked Facebook pictures to the newly registered domain, which was designed to mock the Cablegate page at the website, including a logo of Facebook default icon mashupped with the official Wikileaks logo. The XPI file was uploaded to the official Add-ons for Firefox website maintained by Mozilla Foundation, along with the short description of the add-on. The information about the project was then sent to the experimental browser software repository,, which included it in their database. Information about the project was shared via social networks without a direct interference of the author, also following the public presentation of the add-on at the Rebelhuis exhibition in Rotterdam. There was another version of add-on created in PEM format, compiled into CRX format for Chrome browsers, and included in the website. The source code for both versions was finally made publicly available and uploaded to Gitorious repository.

In November and December 2010 I was reading a lot about WikiLeaks and observing how the Cablegate story interacts within the media sphere. I perceived it as a convergence of crucial issues at stake for the contemporary politics and as many others I was discussing the potential it creates for political change. There were several threads, a question--of leaking as a creative act, of what is to be and what not to be linked to the public domain, of accountability and reponsibility, of information transparency, and of censorship. I was not able to answer the question of what gives the WikiLeaks organisation mandate to decide what sort of classified information made public is more likely to meet their maxim--to create more "just" world.

I was primarily interested in exploring a technique of leaking and apply a method of modifying a technology shaping the society on the grand scale to see what would happen if the control over leaking is given to a wide spectre of people. When talking to Michael, the moment we got an idea of embedding a leak button within the Facebook page, I realized how such a simple hack would go deep into the very idea a social network builds upon: trust. WikiLeaks use a similar hack to break a conspiracy within a corrupted governing body, giving its participants an anonymous 'leak' option. Facebook platform is entrusted by millions to keep their personal information "classified" to people they trust, and yet many downplay privacy concerns, and play. Faceleaks explore a possibility to break a trust in favor of entertainment.

Social stock market

Social stock market was an idea of software which allows users to trade their friendships acquired at social media websites.

My ground assumption was that a social network profile is a commodity being produced by an user, a product of his or her labour of socialising online, while the sole extractor of its financial value being a network provider selling profiles to advertisers. The users--profile producers--are rewarded by the satisfaction from the ever rising number of friends displayed prominently at their profile pages as a kind of social relevance ratio, as the points the player collected in the social game. I wanted to explore the functioning of economic value system inherent in the social graph, make it more transparent and take it a step further.

The main question was 'how'. I imagined a software, a platform which would mirror social graphs of various networks (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace) and increase the value of a user each time he or she makes a new friendship, kind of an individual's social market value. The user would be thought as both a company issuing shares (requesting friendships) and a shareholder (having friendships with other users, in other words, owning shares at other companies). This would create an interesting situation, in which the value of all players raise in the most cases, since a friendship in the social network does not seem to be a scarce commodity. In theory, there were thousands of friends available for free, each a few clicks away, since both sides would always benefit from befriending each other. In other words, I was unable to create a more nuanced market situation, for instance to solve the issue of offer and demand, and how to make the friendship the desired object of consumption. Having more time for it, I would dive into issues of immaterial economy.


Rig was placed in an art gallery hosted by the local city hall as a computer which tries to generate money by running Bitcoin currency mining software. It consisted of a PC tower with a cover removed and a screen displaying the process, accompanied by printouts of cypherpunk and crypto-anarchist manifestos.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency. Peer-to-peer means that no central authority issues new money or tracks transactions. These tasks are managed collectively by the network. The participants store the money (bitcoins) on their computers and run the software to make transactions to others. To generate money the users are optionally running another piece of software, Bitcoin mining client on their machines, called the "mining rigs". The processing power of the rig mining network thus replaces the central authority issuing money. The exhibited computer was simply running a mining software processing and verifying the transactions in the bitcoin network, and during three weeks of the exhibition it mined about 1 cent.

I was primarily interested in exploring a potential the Bitcoin technology has as an alternative economy.


The archive
  • Florian Cramer, "Peer-to-Peer Services: Transgressing the archive (and its maladies?)", [1]
  • Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. University of Chicago Press, 1996. [2] [3]
  • Hal Foster, "An Archival Impulse", October, 2004. [4]
  • Charles Merewether (ed.), The Archive. London: Whitechapel, 2006. [5]
Archiving media art
  • Annet Dekker (ed.), Archive2020 – Sustainable Archiving of Born-Digital Cultural Content. Virtueel Platform, 2010. [6]
  • Joke Brouwer and Arjen Mulder (eds.), Making Art of Databases, Rotterdam: V2, 2003. [7]
  • Nina Wenhart, "W0rdM4g1x. Or how to put a spell on Media Art Archives", January 2011, [8]
  • Alain Depocas, Jon Ippolito, Caitlin Jones (eds.), Permanence Through Change: The Variable media Approach, New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, with Montreal: Daniel Langlois Foundation, 2003. English and French. [9]
  • Sandra Fauconnier and Rens Frommé, Capturing Unstable Media: "Summary of Research Results", March 2003 [10]
  • Julian Myers, "Four Dialogues 2: On AAAARG", Aug 2009. [11]
  • Janneke Adema, "Scanners, collectors and aggregators. On the ‘underground movement’ of (pirated) theory text sharing", Sep 2009. [12]
  • Morgan Currie, "Small is Beautiful: a discussion with AAAARG architect Sean Dockray", Jan 2010. [13]
  • "The Discussion of the Macmillan Threat", Apr 2010. [14]
  • Matthew Fuller, "In the Paradise of Too Many Books: An Interview with Sean Dockray", Mute magazine, May 2011. [15]