Early Approaches to Medium in Hungarian Art of the 1960’s
Marshall McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media appeared in 1962 and 1964 respectively. In comparison, the medial approach became popular (media as an equivalent of new art genre or technique) among Hungarian avant-garde artists only in the second part of the 1970’s. McLuhan enumerates around thirty media, such as telegraph, telex, television, radio, spoken language, money, postcard, slide, play card and other plays, typography (and visual or concrete poetry), comic strip, poster…sport, traffic vehicles, weapons, etc. We try to present avant la lettre early medial works as a comparison between spiritist séances and happenings or ‘indigo (carbon paper) drawings’ by Miklós Erdély, the animation film Pencil and Eraser (1961) by Gyula Macskássy, actions for telephone and radio by Gábor Altorjay, creative use of the typewriter by Gyula Pauer, books assembled from cut-outs from magazines by István Erdély, etc.
Based on these preliminary thoughts, exhibition suggestions and ideas, we have selected works and documents from a Budapest private collection that are both representative and provide a particular artistic and anthropological context. In the choice it is noticeable that graphic design and objects from everyday life correspond in a spontaneous way to the international trends in media highlighted by McLuhan, while many of the self-consciously artistic objects exceed in their creativity McLuhan’s examples (despite the fact that the artists did not known the book that is referred to). In the half century that has passed, memories have taken on new significance, while their documentary, reliquary and even fetishistic character have strengthened.