Bulat M. Galeyev


The author provides a short description of the first video artworks of the group SKB "Prometei" (Kazan, USSR) as well as several artworks created by himself with the help of his colleagues during the period 1990- 1991.

Our group, SKB "Prometei," in existence for some 30 years now, has conducted many experiments involving the unity of art, science and technology. However, until recently, video art was not one of our interests - except for our "Electronic Painter" installations created in 1975-1980 with conventional color TV sets (Fig. 1). Through a set of electronic generators on the monitor of the color TV tube, abstract color (RGB) figures were obtained that could be programmed to move and change, synchronized with sound [1].

Fig.l. V.Bukatin, B.Galeyev, R.Saifullin. Electronic Painter,' installation based on conventional color TV set, 1975-1980. (Photo: Rustem F. Saifullin)

Discussions on whether video is art are still going on; nevertheless, our artistic practice includes a diversity of experiments with TV, specifically with the TV tube. At the Ars Electronica festivals held in Linz, Austria, computer animation experiments are shown that require a TV monitor to reproduce the images - a condition that the audience accepts. At other festivals, for example, at WRO-89 in Poland, another genre - conventional videotapes - was presented, also under the name of "video." During discussions at these festivals, such videos were contrasted with "television art," which in turn was contrasted with "the art of television." This article is devoted to yet another artistic role of the TV set (the TV set as a box with a luminous monitor) - as a means of manifesting a certain paradoxical, grotesque or witty concept. Video art - or video installations, to be more precise - is a concrete display of so-called "conceptual art" - for which the title "art" has been disputed in the USSR. If one looks up "conceptual art" in the recently published Soviet glossary book 'Esthetics,' one is referred, for some reason, to "anticulture" [2].

I had previously been acquainted with video art only through foreign magazines and saw it "live" for the first time in 1989 at the Ars Electronica festival in Linz. Alas, only a few of the compositions exhibited were striking to me, and some of them (forgive me, artists!) simply bored me. Yet on board the jet airliner on my way home I outlined as many as 20 possible video art projects. Some of them I was able to realize and show for the first time at a multimedia concert commemorating Alexander N. Scriabin (April 1990, Kazan, USSR) [3].

 I showed a video recording of our video art compositions at the Second International Symposium on Electronic Art (SISEA) in Groningen (Holland, 1990) and at the Impakt-91 festival in Utrecht (Holland, 1991). Although some of the compositions were intended to be obviously humorous parodies, it was a great surprise to me that our program was viewed by Western experts with marked interest. For this reason I decided to record this description of my first artistic video experiments. I should mention here that I did not work alone, of course. My friends helped me realize my concepts - including cameraman Kamil Gimazutdinov and electronic engineers Valentin P.Bukatin, Max Bychenock and Rinat Khairullin.

References and Notes

  1. Valentin P.Bukatin and Rustam F.Saifullin, "Electronic Synthesizer of Light-Music Images on Color TV Tube," - Tekhnika kino i televideniya, N 2 (1983) pp.51-54 [in Russian].
  2. Conceptual Art. In: Esthetics (glossary) (Moscow: Politizdat, 1989) p.158 [n Russian].
  3. Interested readers can learn about the entire concert from an article by Irina L.Vanechkina, who was a participant in the event. See Irina L.Vanechkina, "A Concert for a TV Set with Orchestra," - Tekhnika kino i televideniya, N.10 (1990) pp.7-10 [in Russian].

Published in "Leonardo", 1994, vol.27, No.5, pp.399-402.