Edith-Russ-Haus, Oldenburg

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EDITH-RUSS-HAUS for Media Art, Oldenburg/Germany

The EDITH-RUSS-HAUS for Media Art was first made possible by an endowment by Edith Ruß (22.1.1919 – 18.7.1993). According to her will, the City of Oldenburg was able to build a house “for the arts”. She wanted to form a site to create “art for the transition into the twentieth century.” This initiative was the genesis for the concept of a site for Media Art with both exhibition space and guest apartments.

The City of Oldenburg has a rarity in the landscape of contemporary art: The EDITH-RUSS-HAUS for Media Art, a place solely for the presentation and discussion of media art.

The concept is based on the special demands of art realized with new media. Media art often works with light, movement and the flow of digital, electronic data. Like a video with its series of consecutive images or net.art in which one clicks from one Internet page to the next, media art tends to be processual and immaterial. This is the reason why the EDITH-RUSS-HAUS for Media Art is not conceived as a museum where art is kept and collected, but rather as a place where media art is presented and discussed. This site must be seen as a channel through which information on art with new media flows. Through presentations and special events we offer a spectrum of the possibilities of media art. The focus is on the content of the artwork and technology’s influence on shaping and defining artistic ideas. Beyond the program of discussions and presentations, we will also hold exhibitions intended to address subjects which are socially relevant and future-oriented.

The site has two buildings. The first building has two levels of space for exhibitions and presentations. The second has two apartments plus one artist’s studio/apartment.



Installed: 20-09-2008
Location | GPS: Edith Russ Site for Media Art, Oldenburg/Germany | 53.1436597,8.2087152
Curator: Sabine Himmelsbach
Roof Size | Font Size: 144qm | 5m x 9m
On Air:



Sabine Himmelsbach, Oldenburg 2008


REMOTEWORDS: The Edith Russ Site for Media Art message is a short and succint ON. What do these two letters mean to an art institution that is devoted exclusively to the new media.

Sabine Himmelsbach: ON as a signature has been perfectly selected for an institution that is dedicated to the presentation and mediation of new media art and is therefore open for new distribution contexts and formats. New media artists use all kinds of communication channels – radio, television, the Internet are platforms for their artistic interventions and aesthetic practice. In its programming, the Edith Russ Site for Media Art is reflecting THESE practices. Our exhibitions not only take place in the actual exhibition space, but also on the regional television channel “Oldenburg 1” on which we present current video art once a month, on the Internet (for example the exhibition “My Own Private Reality. Growing Up Online in the 90s and 00s”, which included mostly webbased works) or on the radio (featuring sound based exhibitions like “Sound//Bytes. Electronic and Digital Sound Scapes”).

RW: We have consciously installed an On switch but, at the same time, left out the Off switch. This seems to be symptomatic for the paradigmatic shifts that society experiences via digitalization. What does it mean to be online forever? How do you get feedback using the media to create art?

SH: This shift is indeed paradigmatic. A constantly increasing number of people is communicating through digital networks worldwide. “You” was the person of the year in 2006 in the TIME Magazine, acknowledging the efforts that users all over the world put into their online activities – be it their creation of videos on YouTube or profils on Facebook or MySpace, the upload of fotos on Flickr, writing blogs about their daily lives or political opinions, or other activities like contributing to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, to name only a few. The worldwide digital networks and communities have generated a lot of social potential and a creative use of new media technologies. Of course they also contributed to the ever growing mass of information that needs to be filtered daily and the need to get away from beeing constantly ON.
The feedback in the media arts resulted in a lot of artistic practice that is taking place on the World Wide Web itself, using its structures and possibilities to reach a global audience. A lot of artworks are actively engaging other users and are based on their input, creating thus new groups and communities. Examples have also been shown in the exhibition “My Own Private Reality”.

RW: On much equipment, the off switch is in any case obsolete. If the user is not yet online everyday for 24 hours, the machines are. Server and standby appliances such as modems, fax machines, wireless-Lan stations, digital receivers and much more run 24/7/365. Alone in Germany, their estimated power consumption corresponds to the production of 2 nuclear power stations. Are there actually no ecological tendencies in media art?

SH: Of course power is used by technological equipment, no doubt. Ecological strategies in media art take a different approach. They work with the potentials offered by the use of the media to comprehend ecological questions. They draw on the methods and results of scientific research and utilize global communications technologies to actively integrate the viewers into the projects. These projects revolve around the charting of data and their audio visualization. For the most part, they circumvent common scientific technological recording methods and open up new worlds of perception. Last year the Edith Russ Site for Media Art has staged an exhibition that delt with ecological questions. “Ecomedia. Ecological Strategies in Today’s Art” was looking at the idea of ecology as a communicative system. The exhibition presented projects founded on progressive ecological models as well as visions of the future. It examined the role of art and new media over and above science, technology, and ecoactivism.

RW: So – should’nt we set a good example and switch off the recorder now?

SH: OK, switch it off!