RAM. Early Estonian Computer Art 17/02/2016 – 04/09/2016

Kumu Art Museum
Adult: Kumu Art Museum
  • Family: Kumu Art Museum
  • Discount: Kumu Art Museum
  • Adult ticket with donation: Art Museum of Estonia
Renee Kelomees. Geom I (detail). 1994. Autori omand

RAM. Early Estonian Computer Art

Location: 4th floor, Project Space

RAM. Early Estonian Computer Art
17 February to 4 September 2016

>     RAM (random access memory) is the main memory of a computer.

>    If we could look inside a computer’s main memory (RAM), we would see a colourful picture of data from different programmes and processes, stored as fragments: small pieces thrown all over the place.

>    The exhibition space can be viewed as RAM and computers as storage locations. The works displayed are dispersed data fragments stored in RAM and the visitors to the exhibition act as different programmes that turn to RAM to access data.

>    The exhibition RAM is the story of computer use in the Estonian visual culture. The development of computer technology encouraged many people in the late 1980s and early 1990s to exploit its potential. This gave rise to a number of animations and multimedia programmes; computer graphics were produced to be displayed as art exhibitions; somewhere in the computing centres of universities, research data were being visualised in computers; the computer classes of schools witnessed busy game development on Yamaha MSXs….

>    The exhibition includes original equipment, which forms a harmony of multiple voices, with their lit faces and sounds, reminding us of the computer classes of the late 1980s and bringing us solitary signals from the contemporary creative industry. There are also some examples of naive computer art. Due to their exotic nature, computer animations of that time were free of any aesthetic standards regarding the used images, and fell outside the sphere of criticism. The majority of electronic art remains distant from traditional aesthetics, focussing rather on technology. When putting together the exhibition, we did not consider whether a phenomenon fell into a category or not, but rather looked at how the computing environment was reflected in the inner world of the created works.

>    In the middle of all of this, we have Rauno Remme’s work Wanna play?, which was inspired by technological chaos and is allowed to cut into the sounds of other displayed creations. Wanna play? is a game which as early as 1992 served as an ironic commentary on the supposed omnipotence of media technology and its subjugation to human control.

>    When new data are read into RAM, the old data are deleted. Important data need to be kept in RAM: they need to be recalled constantly, for when the data disappear, they cannot be restored.


Curator: Tuuli Lepik
Exhibition designers: Tuuli Lepik, Juhan Soomets, Tõnis Jürgens and Siim Kuusemäe

We thank:
Orbital Vox Studios, Tallinn University of Technology Library, Estonian Public Broadcasting, The University of Tartu Computer History Museum, Laserstuudio, Ajar Studios, Pixmill Estonia OÜ, Ott Aaloe, Räni Meister, Tanel Raja aka Pronto, Olav Osolin and Jaan Laugamõts