Where have we come and where are we going?
We find ourselves at a time when the world has already undergone significant change. Nature and everything that happens in it inevitably shape our lives and our perception of both us and our environment. However, it is not solely natural disasters that change us; rather, we change ourselves. Nature merely serves as a reminder of our past actions.
With this, perhaps, poetic title and introduction, I would like to recall a time that has passed – a time when the International Festival of Computer Arts (MFRU) in Maribor was just beginning to grow. As it now approaches its 30th anniversary, it (perhaps) portrays a more mature image. However, it is certainly a period that allows us to reflect earnestly upon all it has done, presented, communicated, conceived, encouraged, and changed up to the present day. I hope it has also made a difference, even if modest, on the understanding of computer, digital, and electronic art. Furthermore, long before that, it influenced the direction in which contemporary society would evolve. Under the title Periodization of Space and Time Through the Intermedia, this year's edition of MFRU conveys the message that it is time to look into past historical facts critically and impartially, and to establish new frameworks and plans that follow fundamental social discourses and the present intermedia. The main focus, therefore, is on Mark Ornik, one of the most prominent intermedia artists and music producers. As a Maribor resident, he designed and managed this festival from 2008 to 2012, subsequently attracting numerous artists from the fields of contemporary electronic music and audio-visual production to the city through his production space, Centralna postaja (Central Station), on Koroška cesta in Maribor. Mark Ornik has consistently connected different fields and, as an eternal enthusiast, created his own visual, video, and sound works.
As usual, the festival will provide insight into the current creative output of the younger generation of intermedia artists. It will showcase the works of local artists Eva Smrekar and Aljaž Rudolf, Dalea Kovačec and Marko Damiš, Jaka Waldhütter, as well as international artists Dmitry Morozov and Abiral Khadka. The latter will be featured in two sound events. It is worth mentioning that Nejc Trampuž has already created his largest artwork with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), displayed on the façade of the house located on the main square. This print reveals his vision of both the present and potential future life.
On the other hand, the 29th MFRU will focus on established artists and authors from Maribor and this part of Slovenia, such as Jože Slaček, OR poiesis (Petra Kapš), and Robertina Šebjanič. Igor Štromajer, Zoran Srdić Janežič, and the duo Nika Oblak & Primož Novak will showcase their work within the windows of the shop Modna hiša. The accompanying program will also feature the presentation of the Videopoezija MKC project. Furthermore, the festival will showcase works from renowned international artists, such as Brad Downey and Jan Vormann, Mirjana Batinić, Isidora Todorović, and others. Among the highlights will be the sound creation by Rob Canning.
The discourse program will include lectures by Tomaž Grušovnik, PhD, from the University of Primorska and Wolfgang Ernst, PhD, from the University of Berlin. Additionally, there will be a panel discussion moderated by Irena Borić and Renata Sparada in collaboration with the /'fu:bar/ festival in Croatia.
The collaboration will continue with Radio Slovenija's Ars program, during which we will present Simon Whetham's work in their evening time slot.
For the younger audience, two workshops will be organised under the guidance of Marko Luka at the Cultural Incubator on Koroška cesta. The accompanying program will also feature a presentation of the work son:DA _ »now/zdaj« at the Street Gallery (Židovska ulica).
I believe that the MFRU festival has achieved a remarkable level of quality and maturity over the years, which is widely recognized by the people who enthusiastically meet again and again at exhibitions, events, talks, and sound performances.
– Aleksandra Saška Gruden