The 1990s’ rescue mission of the multimedia of artists: possibilities of digital conservation and archiving

 Raivo Kelomees

Estonian Academy of Arts

My paper observes a cultural phenomenon that could be termed multimedia of artists, and its manifestations in Estonia and on the international scale. A special focus is on the disappearance of this artistic field because of innovations in computer platforms. Old CD-ROMs cannot be used on contemporary computers, even on those equipped with a disc player. The problem is particularly evident in terms of changes in the Apple Mac platform.

I define the multimedia of artists as an interactive audiovisual multimedia program for artistic and conceptual (but not applied) purposes, which was intended to be written on, distributed by and watched on CD-ROMs.

It was usually the author who programmed, designed and audio- or video-recorded the piece. Authoring was done with Macromedia Director tool. A piece could be authored by a group of artists, and for projects of larger sale, professionals of other areas were hired for non-media-related segments of the work.

My paper discusses the history of multimedia of artists in Estonia, its peak in the 1990s, the views and predictions towards artistic creation at the time and the situation today, as multimedia is moving to the online environment. I will focus on the works of various Estonian artists (Ando Keskküla, Mare Tralla, Raul Keller, Tiia Johannson, Kristel Sibul, Marko Mäetamm, students of the Tartu Art School) and the issues that I encountered in my personal project, which is now in the possession of the Art Museum of Estonia.

Even though multimedia has been an active creative and applied area in the past ten or so years, this too has been permanently lost by now, and a rescue mission is called for restoring the most outstanding creative work.