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Media pioneer Zbigniew Rybczynski and Gábor Bódy in an exhibition at the ZKM Media Museum
Zbigniew Rybczyński: “Nowa Książka (New Book)”, 1975. Se-Ma-For Łódź, Poland, 35mm short film © Zbigniew Rybczński.

KARLSRUHE.- Zbigniew Rybczyński and Gábor Bódy have never met, and yet they are connected by a pioneering development: from the early 1970s both welcomed the challenge that the new media technologies represented for art – initially as experimental film-makers, at the time with reference to the video. The exhibition “The State of Image. The Media Pioniers Zbigniew Rybczyński and Gábor Bódy” were the first to carry out a new evaluation or artistic and technical innovations for image research from the 1960s to the 1980s based on the model of two outstanding inventors, film-makers and media artists.

“Last century we became accustomed to the idea that the first technoavant-garde in the arts originated in West Europe and North America. This idea is false. Almost all foundations for the development of electronic image and sound worlds were discovered and invented in the East.” (Siegfried Zielinski)

With Zbigniew Rybczyński (*1949) and Gábor Bódy (1946-1985), the exhibition entitled “The State of Image“ presents two media pioneers from Poland and Hungary who developed their work in the tradition of the first European avant-garde. Although both of them fully adopted the media technologies of the early 1970s, their gestures are very different: Zbigniew Rybczyński is the constructivist painter, draftsman and designer: engineer of the new image-time-spaces which he creates. He discovers and developed film, as well as video, as a possibility for producing entirely new space and time experiences. He has been producing countless music videos since the late 1970s, among others, for John Lennon, the Pet Shop Boys and for Mick Jagger. Rybczyński received an Oscar for the category best animated film in 1983.

Gábor Bódy, by contrast, is the poet, linguist and semiotician – the dramatist. Inspired by French thought, he early on discovered the potential of a poetry of deconstruction which opened to him by the new media. Like no other of his contemporaries, he explored the quality of a new, private and intimate public, which, for him, is connected with the medium, its way of distribution and perception. As pioneer of experimental film and film language, today Body is considered one of the most important figures of Hungarian cinema. He began working on the first international video journal, the first ten editions of which he was the chief editor, in 1980. INFERMENTAL collected the work of over 1500 artists from 36 countries and remained in publication until 1991. It is currently part of the video collection of the ZKM | Karlsruhe.

“Zbigniew Rybczynski not only knows all techniques of artistic image ́construction, but he also uses them all. I know of no other contemporary artist as ingenious and artistically so creative as Rybczynski. In short, ́Rybczynski ́ is artistically so creative because he disposes over incomparable technical virtuosity and bravura.” (Peter Weibel)

Taken together, the former editor of the INFERMENTAL journal Gábor Bódy and the Oscar Prize Winner of 1983, Zbigniew Rybczyński, represent a radical artistic attitude. Both use technology to produce something that, hitherto, had been neither visible nor audible.

“The arts and the techniques of presentation are not only capable of doing it; they exist so as to add to life something which, of its own accord, it is incapable of realizing. An imaginary dialog between the Hungarian and the Pole commences, and the extent to which the diverse scenes in the West are indebted to media arts in the East becomes evident. [...] It is time that we give something back of what we have acquired in the past.” (Siegfried Zielinski)

Curators: Piotr Krajewski (WRO Art Center, Wrocław) and Miklós Peternák (C3 Center for Culture & Communication Foundation, Budapest) Rybczyński’s film and video works make space and time experiences experienceable, which the familiar media world does not offer.

Zbigniew Rybczyński (born 1949) director, camera man and scriptwriter. He studied camera work at the Film Academy in Łódź and is author of experimental animated films and innovative video works. Those of his films produced in Poland between 1973 and 1981 gained him many international prizes, one of which was an Oscar. For political reasons, he immigrated to Austria in 1982, before moving to the USA. In 1985 he established his own studio in New York in which he created his video and HD film Steps (1987), The Orchestra (1990) and Kafka (1992), as well as numerous short productions which exerted an influence on the music videos of the eighties. In 1994 Rybczyński moved to Berlin, where he cofounded the Center for New Image Design. Following this, he took up a post in Cologne as Professor for Media (1998–2001). In 2009, Rybczyński published his Traktat o obrazie (Treatise on the Picture), in which, based on his own artistic practices and long-year research in the field of optics and perspectives he formulated a fundamental critique on their contemporary condition. Today, he lives in Wrocław, where he built up a modern studio according to his own design at the Production Company for Feature Films, the aim of which was to research artistic work with the moving picture.

Gábor Bódy (1946–1985) was filmmaker, artist, theorist and innovative author in the field of pictorial thinking. From 1964 to 1971, he studied philosophy and history followed by film and television production at the Academy of Theater and Film in Budapest. His graduation film Amerikanische Ansichtskarten won first prize of the City of Mannheim in 1976. As member of the Béla-Balázs Studio, he organized the series “film language” and the experimental film group “K3”. He directed the Vier Bagatellen and the computer film Psychokosmos, and worked for television. His second film Narziß und Psyche (1980) won several prizes and was shown internationally. In 1982 he was guest at the DAAD, funded Berlin artist program, after which he lived some of the time in Germany. He worked with video art and his multimedia-initiative Infermental, the first international journal on video cassettes, became a new network of communication and distribution. Bódy taught in Hungary and also at the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin, authored a study with the title Bedeutungszuschreibungen in der Kinematografie and shot his third long film Nachtlied des Hundes (1983), in which he himself played the leading role. He worked in Vancouver, where his film Entweder-oder in Chinatown (1984), the script Der feurige Engel and the novella Psychotechnikum were produced. He completed the triology “Philo-Mytho-Lyric Clips”: De occulta philosophia, Eurynomes Tanz and Novalis: Walzer. In 1986 he posthumously received the FIPRESCI prize at the Berlinale for his life’s work.

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Media pioneer Zbigniew Rybczynski and Gábor Bódy in an exhibition at the ZKM Media Museum

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