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Volks stöhnende Knochenschau
The Volks stöhnende Knochenschauproject, video newsreels that were shown as part of the 1980 Vienna Festival (Project group: Ali Aydin, Gerda Lampalzer, Manfred Neuwirth, Alfred Schwarz, Ferdinand Stahl, Andi Stern, Susa Zahraditsch)

The video newsreel project put together by the Medienwerkstatt Wien (which was called Verein Medienzentren at the time) was the first participatory media project in Austria to reach a wide audience, »on the street« so to speak. A decisive factor in making this possible was the use of a video bus for presentations in the countryside around Vienna (on village squares, in pedestrian zones, etc.). Vital to understanding the significance of this project is an understanding of the media landscape in which it existed. In 1980 Austria had two publicly owned television channels, ORF 1 and ORF 2, and there were no alternatives in the form of cable television or privately owned stations. The dominance of state-owned television lay primarily in its unlimited
power to determine which topics were dealt with. Whatever did not appear on television did not receive any attention at all by the media, and a public forum for fringe groups, opposing opinions, special-interest topics, etc., now provided by a diversified offering of channels, did not exist. These conditions, one of the motivating factors behind the foundation of the first video initiatives in Austria in the late 1970s ­ including the one launched by the Medienwerkstatt ­
were the source of the great symbolic value possessed by public showings on monitors. Reports that were at odds with what viewers were accustomed to seeing, in both form and content, were shown »on TV«, as the video screens were regarded. As can be expected, the onsite reactions were diverse and often intense.
(Gerda Lampalzer)
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