Universcity TV (1990-1994)

“Universcity TV” was a project by Ponton to test new possibilities for the artistic use of electronic media. According to a statute drawn up at a Hamburg notary’s office on 11 May 1993, the purpose of the association was to carry out “artistic projects in Europe, especially with pupils, students and trainees in the field of new media. The association shall also organise projects and exhibitions in Europe and rent or acquire appropriate facilities. The association is a cultural institution that is especially intended to compensate for the horrendous deficit in aesthetic education that has arisen in schools”.

The statutes not only emphasise the international character of Universcity TV, but also the aspect of training: “Each project realised by Universcity TV must consist of 50% trainees. 50 % of all participants must be foreigners in accordance with the country in which the respective project is realised. Possible forms of events are “international media events, project projects, symbioses and publication of documentations”. Christian Vanderborght, Baiba Ripa and Philippe Coeytaux, three organisers of Piazettas during “Piazza virtuale”, were elected to the board. The statutes repeatedly emphasise the separation between Ponton and Universcity TV; the project seems to have been primarily a project of Salvatore Vanasco and Mike Hentz.

Universcity TV’s first, larger action took place in November 1990 during the Interface conference in Hamburg. Here the group, which included many students from the Hochschule für bildende Künste, but also other interested people, created an installation for the Hamburg Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, where the conference was held. It also organised its own symposium and broadcast programmes on the Offener Kanal Hamburg where viewers could call in. Such interactive television formats were also tried out in follow-up events. Some of the participants – such as Christian Wolff, Ole Lütjens, Silke Mauritius, Axel Roselius or Katharina Baumann later collaborated on “Piazza virtuale” in Kassel, others – such as Janine Sack, Hans Wermelinger or Ronald Gonko – set up “Piazzettas” in their home cities. During Piazza virtuale, participants from various European countries were invited to Kassel as part of Universcity TV.


Documentation: „Universcity TV. Das Projekt“, Hamburg 1991
Universcity TV, ars electronica catalogue 1990 (German)

Universcity TV Workshop, Hamburg Art Academy 1990 (Foto: Silke Mauritius)