Research Project: The Media Art Agency 235 Media and its Impact on the Production Conditions, Economisation and Internationalisation of Media Art (2015-2018)


With the support of the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the imai foundation has initiated a two-year-long research project which will for the first time systematically explore and ground in the media theory the role 235 Media played in the history of video and media art. 


Since its beginnings in the early 1980s, the media art agency 235 Media has had crucial influence on the national and international development and distribution of the then emerging genres of video and media art. These did not evolve from within the established art scene but rather from the subcultures, growing out of media utopias, and were closely linked to the music culture of the 1970s and 1980s. Since then not only has media art found its way to the museum, it also initiated various economisation processes. Since its beginnings it has brought forth numerous innovations in the area of art production as well as in regard to the forms of presentation, placement and dissemination, which remain influential to this day. These influences can be traced particularly well using the example of the history and activities of 235 MEDIA, as it accompanied the central developments in media art ‘from the inside’.


Among its activities were – to name just a few – circulation of media art via television, editing of the video art magazine Video Congress, establishment of international distribution structures, participation in festivals and exhibitions (VIDEONALE.5; etc.). Additionally, with Electronic Café International 235 Media managed to implement artistic network strategies even before the existence of the internet (documenta IX, Biennale di Venezia etc.). By partaking in and even initiating the production, distribution and curatorial processes and by operating, in the spirit of Walter Benjamin, with the goal of the ‘democratisation of art’ in mind, 235 Media became a substantial part of media art history.


The research project will systematically analyse these developments and ground them in media theory. The imai is the perfect site for this ambitious undertaking as it inherited 235 Media’s vast archive of video and media art, documentation of exhibitions and other audiovisual formats and various previously unpublished materials when it was founded in 2006. As such, the media art archive of the imai foundation offers an incomparable and hitherto little explored basis for the realization of the project.


Research team: Dr. Renate Buschmann (direction), Dr. Jessica Nitsche (postdoctoral scholar), Hiroko Myokam (research fellow), Angelika Gwozdz (research assistant)


Funded by:

Electronic Café International (documenta IX), copyright: 235 Media