The Media Are With Us

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Peter Weibel and Suzanne Mészöly at the symposium. Photo: János Sugár. (Source)

The Media Are With Us!: The Role of Television in the Romanian Revolution [A médiumok velünk vannak! A televízió szerepe a romániai forradalomban] was an international symposium held on 6-7 April 1990 in Mücsarnok, Budapest, curated by Keiko Sei and organised by Media Research Foundation. The speakers included Vilém Flusser, Peter Weibel, Margaret Morse, Ingo Günther, Geert Lovink, the staff of Romanian television, and others. It was the first event to analyze and theorize a political event from the perspective of the media to take place in Hungary. Following this, the MRF, in a cooperation with Balázs Béla Studio, produced the video Mediology which contains interviews with five of the conference speakers (Kriesche, Lovink, Weibel, Fargier, Flusser). Later the Merve Verlag, Berlin, published a collection of the lectures presented during the event, Von Bürokratie zur Telekratie.

"The media are with us" is a slogan inspired by the calls in the streets of Bucharest "armate e cu noi" (the army is with us).

Tjebbe van Tijen about the symposium[edit]

"The video material shown there consisted of recordings of the historical TV transmissions in Rumania itself and comparisons with coverage of the same event elsewhere in the world from France and Spain to Japan and the United States. There was also video footage and some documentaries of the same event by professionals and amateurs from different countries and commentary by those directly involved in the live broadcasts from Bucharest and the handling of these events by international television networks. The conference was a unique opportunity to compare how the showing of the same event (the fall of the Ceaucescu regime) on television can have different meanings in other contexts. Hailed in the beginning as a revolution set in motion by television, it soon was seen in a different perspective as the 'pyjama revolution' where most people stayed passively at home day and night glued to their television set. As Vilém Flusser said during the conference 'the effect of the information revolution consists of the fact that we have to stay at home when we want to be informed'. The video material shown during the conference in Budapest by the different speakers came from all parts in the world, and was taken 'home' again afterwards. There were at that moment no opportunities to make copies and so constitute a permanent collection for further reference and research. I was also not able than to make arrangements for the forming of such a collection and to tackle all the possible copyright barriers involved in such an undertaking. Afterwards the organizers of the conference, Keiko Sei, Suzanne Mészöly, László Beke and János Sugár, made a publication with a selection of the lectures. While rereading this book I found some observations which linked the impact of the Romanian television events in a nice way to much earlier developments in the media, like a statement by the Rumanian art historian Magda Carneci: '..during the Rumanian revolution television for a moment became innocent again: it was only the medium for an elementary human need, to communicate and to participate directly with others in the theatre of the world'. The Austrian media artist Richard Kriese points to the creative clumsiness and spontaneity which links the world wide broadcasting of the Romanian television events to the first experiments of 'guerrilla television' and 'community video' twenty years before: 'what the Western world has seen, was what they could have seen with the media artists of the sixties an seventies long before'." (Source, 1993)

Video documentary[edit]

The Media Were with Us!, dir. Miklós Peternák, Balázs Béla Stúdió, 1990, 133 min.
Source: C3 Video Archive and Media Art Collection.


Symposium committee
Chairperson: Suzanne Mészöly
Program director: Keiko Sei
Romanian correspondent: Andrei Schwartz
Committee members: László Beke, Miklós Peternák, János Sugár, Nina Czegledy-Nagy, Judit Kopper (Hungarian TV), György Durst (Béla Balázs Studio)

Friday, 6 April

  • Dr. László Beke (art historian, HU): The Media Are With Us! - But With Whom?
  • Béla Barabás (historian, HU): Brief Chronology of the First Few Days of the Romanian Revolution
  • Mihaela Cristea (Bucharest TV, RO)
  • Judith Georgescu (Bucharest TV, RO)
  • Radu Popa (art critic, historian, RO)
  • Magda Cârneci (art critic, RO)
  • György Szűcs and Zsolt Nagy (HU): Reconstruction in the Video Documentation of the Ceaușescu Trial
  • János Tölgyesi (media expert, HU): Computer Link-Up Between Romania and Hungary
  • László Pesty (HU): Hands Up!
  • Mike O'Dwyer (editor, Foreign News Pictures, La Cinq, FR): Thoughts on Romania, the Media and Authority
  • Margaret Morse (assistant professor, Critical Studies, Cinema, TV, US): Distant Soundbites: The Romanian Revolution as Mediated by American TV
  • Dr. Kazimierz Sobotka (professor, Theory, Literature, Film, PL): The Role of Mass Media in the Political Life of So-Called Socialist Countries
  • Dr. Ryszard Kluszczynski (professor, Theory, Literature, Film, PL): The Romanian Revolution in the Polish Mass Media
  • Screening: Czechoslovakian Coverage of the Revolution. Filmed by: Pavel Stingl (FAMU, film and TV director, CS)
  • Dr. Heidi Dumreicher (radio director, ORF, AT): Information Explosion in Romania
  • Paolino Accolla (Tokyo correspondent for the Italian newsagency Ansa, IT): Unreal Estate: Tokyo's Manila, Bucharest and Panama City
  • Dieter Daniels (art critic, west-DE): Looking East and Looking West on German Television

Saturday, 7 April

  • Béla Cselényi (television director, HU): Documentary Home Video
  • Isabella Raventos (television director, ES): Live Television and the Romanian Revolution: Mediated Realities and the Use of Life Coverage During the Romanian Revolution
  • Erkki Huhtamo and Ari Honka-Hallila (media experts, FI): Crime and Punishment? The Finnish TV Representation of the Romanian Revolution
  • Tjebbe van Tijen (archivist, NL): Projecting the Television Image Back in Time: An Iconographic Study of Three Centuries of Revolutionary Moments
  • Vilém Flusser (philosopher, CZ/BR/FR): Television Image and Political Space in the Light of the Romanian Revolution. Video. Video (hi res). Transcript.
  • Geert Lovink (editor, Mediamatic Magazine, NL), Morgan Russel (editor, Mondo 2000, US): Reality Time-Gaps in the Real-Time Media
  • Richard Kriesche (media artist, AT): Revolution: Reference from Electronic Images to People
  • Jean-Paul Fargier (video artist and critic, FR): Image of the Hostage / Hostage of the Image
  • László Kisbali (aesthete, HU): Cloud of Witnesses
  • Vintilla Ivanceanu (theatre director, RO/AT): Revolution Theatre on Television: Dramaturgical Forms
  • Miklós Peternák (art historian, HU): What is the Event?
  • János Sugár (artist, HU): Television Camera in the Black Hole
  • Gábor Bora and László L. Révész (art historian, artist, SW, HU): Méd(e)ia
  • István Csörögi (lecturer in Aesthetics, HU): Electronic Angels of History: The Screen of Politics
  • Peter Weibel (artist, director Media Center, AT): The Media as Mask: The Sublimation of the Revolutionary Gaze
  • Ingo Günther (media artist, west-DE): Post Political Technology: Media Replaces Materials




  • "A televízió velünk van!", Jel-Kép 11:2, Budapest, 1990, pp 75-88. [1] (Hungarian)
  • Tjebbe van Tijen, "A Context for Collecting the New Media", in Next 5 Minutes Video Catalogue: Catalogue of Videotapes Shown During the Festival on Tactical Television held in Paradiso Amsterdam, 8-10 January 1993, eds. Bas Raijmakers and Tjebbe van Tijen, Amsterdam: International Institute of Social History, 1993, HTML.