The Dada Movement - Russian Avant-Garde on the World Wide Web
Russia witnessed an artistic revolution during the turn of the 20th century that attempted to overturn art's place in society. Today, we are witnessing a new revolution that is growing at an alarming rate and attracting a variety of people every day. This phenomenon is known as the Internet. The World Wide Web is more than a medium for education and research, but serves as a tool for preserving and glorifying the treasures of art. This paper will argue that through the Internet, society still inhabits the world created by the Russian avant-garde whose legacy lives on in art, dance, music, and social groups. Members of the Dada movement in Pre-Revolutionary Russia found themselves unable to communicate the excitement of the avant-garde, however, with the Internet, that excitement is once again re-lived.
The International Dada Archive of the University of Iowa is an example of the how the Internet is used as a tool to immortalize the works of the Dada movement. The purpose of the archive is to preserve and spread the written word of the Dada movement. Unlike contemporary art, the artist and writers of the Dada movement did not aim to create eternal works of art and literature (Shipe 2). Tristan Tzara and Hugo Ball, leaders of the movement, reacted against World War I and wanted to open the way to a new art and a new society. Though Dadaists published books and displayed their work, the real spirit of Dada was in events: cabaret performances, demonstrations, confrontation, distribution of leaflets, and small magazines (Shipe 2). These documents exist but can only be found within diaries, audiences, newspaper accounts, and throwaway leaflets. The documents are made available to scholars through the Internet and Iowa University. The Dada Archive is a tool for scholars and researchers; however, it does not utilize the avant-garde capabilities of the web. There is no evidence of artistic expression or portraits of Dadaists available on the web site. Rather than pushing the envelope of artistic expression to its limits, the Dada archive preserves, and tries not to limit the amount of information regarding the Dada movement.
Unlike the University of Iowa Dada Archive, the Mital-Underground web site utilizes the avant-garde capabilities of the Internet. The title, Mital-Underground is itself avant-garde, using the Internet as an underground tunnel to spread messages and ideas that would otherwise be censored. In pre-Revolutionary and post-revolutionary Russia, underground publications were censored and writers were clandestine. Today, underground publications are easier to access via the Internet. Mital-Underground has an ample amount of information regarding the Dada movement and artists such as Richard Huelsenbeck and John Heartfield. There is a work of art by John Heartfield that uses the montage technique consisting of fragmented pieces of photographs pasted together on a surface....