The Media Are With Us

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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 a video Mediology which contains interviews with five of the conference speakers. 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 quit 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 'pyama 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.
The video is embedded from the C3 Video Archive and Media Art Collection (contains more information).


  • Tjebbe van Tijen, "A context for collecting the new media", in Next 5 Minutes Video catalogue, eds. Bas Raijmakers and Tjebbe van Tijen, Amsterdam: International Institute of Social History, 1993.

See also[edit]