becoming kosmoplovci

written for mustekala, finland
in december 2008
by dominator of kosmoplovci
a.k.a. domin8r / corrosion
a.k.a. speaker for the dead
a.k.a. igor djordjevic

to start a short story on how kosmoplovci became is first and foremost an
impossible task. a multiplicity of events and complex correlations with
supposingly different scenes have made it quite hard to catch a full view of
what and why happened, and how exactly did it influence on our path, especially
considering the situation that caught us here in serbia, growing up in one of
the darkest age of local history, one that is still not finished… in the
beginning of nineties, while i was trying to keep up with the newborn
techno/rave scene and just discovering computers and music on amiga 500, our
country has involved us in the real war that was going on just a few hundred
kilometers away. while we were supposed to hone our skills and prepare for our
future in peace, everyday life has provided nothing more than pure survival
atmosphere, a daily image of collapsed society with no vision for any future…
in this situation, where money is getting worthless between morning and evening
of the same day, and getting fuel is a smuggling operation, there was really
nothing and no one who was willing to open up for new people and ideas,
especially if your interests are not mainstream, and even more especially if
your interests are so distant and abstract to your environment…

in this situation, the only logical way to get out of the survival loop was to
seek out for close-minded people and build strong relationships. those efforts
eventually led us to teaming up to combine our knowledge and resources for
common goals, whatever those would be. so, corrosion was formed somewhere in
1992 to aggregate our interests in computers and networking, developed between
close but dedicated group of friends. in a genuine effort to dig deep into
computers, but to stay out of the prototypes, we found a special place for
computers in our lives, a non-separative part of our everyday life. however,
even if we did spend decent amount of time with the machine, we were always
quite active in creating, organising and visiting real places for socialising
like festivals, pubs, clubs, parties, raves and concerts, and in the same time,
corrosion was our socializing point, a place for all our everyday problems. with
this approach, the idea of creating something together was like a social glue in
our lives, a creative focus that held close our vast interests in technology and

kosmoplovsi performing at the alternative party 2008

not being genre or style defined, corrosion became a notorious hacker group, a
group of swappers, traders, network explorers, pioneers in bbs modem. however,
aside from it’s quickly acquired cult position in the bbs world, soon after
discovery of amiga demoscene, corrosion starts to expand by joining some coders
and graphicians, fullfilling the requirements for our next level, our first try
to join up with the creative part of demoscene. being young and non-conforming,
we bravely took the responsibility of being the local flagship of things to come
– in 1993 we released our first demoscene production, in 1994 we were first to
make live concert in techno club directly from our computers, in 1995 we were
making serbian demoscene/music related diskmag, in 1996 we were first to
accompany our music gigs with video projections, and in 1997 we were first to
put out a major 5 day computer art related event which included our first
demoparty which quickly became reference for well organised and large
demoparty, something that still remains unmatched in our local community.

what kept us quite different than anyone in local scene is the fact that our
goals were not related to local scene – it was too easy to be the greatest in
your village, so, our eyes were focused on global scene which we were hoping to
become part of with our own work and ideas, rather than being copycats (which is
a usual local attitude towards new ideas). regardless the fact that we had no or
very little resources to keep up with the global scene, our fight to become
worthy enough to be noted of was always our primary driving force – long term
goals that looked unreachable at the time are now becoming a reality, a reward
which comes at the price of patience and persistence… it took us a lot more
time than anyone outside this country, thanks to massive distractions coming
from political and economical turmoils that are making even the smaller things
quite complicated…

fortunatelly, 1997 was the year when we made our first contacts to ‘art’ scene
and have found the technical and logistic support for our demoscene projects.
it was the time when local media house B92 was quite different than it is
today, at that time it was an independent guerilla radio station that was
really supporting new ideas and efforts, especially if they were not
politically alligned with the regime – at that time there was no other place
where you could do any non-political or underground art, so they created Cinema
Rex cultural center which has become a place of creative intellectuals which
gathered people from different scenes (not only computers). on top of providing
us with free location with needed hardware and logistics (video beams, sound
system, even some specialized computer hardware…) this was also a place where
we met other selforganised scenes – underground comic scene and low-fi video
scene. the bonds, relationships and cooperations that we started there led us
to many things, including todays kosmoplovci.

from here on, our position was more or less close to local art scene, but there
was always distance from both sides. from our side, we didn’t want to become
conceptual artists so we intentionally ignored hints that would give us better
position in ‘art establishment’ because it meant we would need to change what
we do and adapt it to someone else’s goal. from their side, we were probably
too much of enigma – a group of chaotic, unpredictable and new ideas that
required some technology which was unknown to them, so they didn’t quite know
where to put us. however, we didn’t go into flaming wars and fights against
artists, in our eyes they were doing different things, and we sometimes even
liked some of it, but still, we decided to keep on our path and continue
developing ideas alone, collaborating with art scene if and when we had some
common goal. so, we did took part in some art festivals, we did accept
invitations for performances, concerts, workshops and exhibitions, but we
always fight hard to stay ourselves, even before kosmoplovci came, we have
established ourselves as avanguarde computer artists. our technical background
was also giving us an opportunity to do some work for art world commercially,
so we did make numerous cdrom and dvd presentations, and also some websites,
some of which are still major and important part of the serbian cultural scene.

although the period we spent in Rex was quite short, it has brought us quite a
bunch of good and important events in 1997 and 1998 – first major event was a 5
day computer art festival called CREATIVE TECH WEEK, which included our first
SCENE STRIKE demoparty and our first concerts with musicians from local
electronic music scene. also, CTW has been place for cyberpunk/fantasy
illustrators, CG animators and contemporary artists interested in new media
technologies, especially the potential of audiovisual expression and internet.
following success of CTW, we had received wider support which gave us
opportunity to make 2 more SCENE STRIKE demo parties, more than 10 monthly
demoshowdowns called UPDATE and it also gave us chance to go out of country to
represent serbian computer art scene at hacking convention called ‘Hacking in
Progress’ organized in 1997 by xs4all in some open air camp somewhere in
holland. this was our first international appearance, not directly related to
demoscene, but we did go there anyway and we did held a small seminar about
demoscene in general, not only our local scene.

by residing in cinema rex, we have also helped them to build cyberrex project,
one of the first attempts for creating digital media lab… however, just when
things were looking well and we were preparing a major demoparty in april 1999
(scene strike 4), NATO appears with planes and bombs all over serbia, and in
next few months B92 and Rex collapses, in a way that after bombing, suddenly
only interest for new B92 and Cinema Rex was for politically engaged projects
that were focusing only on literal promoting of western culture and western
democracy, which gave room only for swarm of ‘nu media’ contemporary artists
who were just using the subjects to get some money and do some ‘art tourism’.
we took part in few international events that got us to prague and graz, but
soon we split from them, since their interest has becoming narrowly focused in
political direction. in our eyes it was the same as totalist regime, only with
different subject. and it still is – local ‘art scene’ is mostly filling it’s
predefined slots, rather than supporting new ideas and forms…

so, after realising that our future doesn’t have anything to do with new Cinema
Rex and B92, 4 major groups with 90% of programme left Cinema Rex to try to
find it’s independent place on the scene. one of those groups have created an
independent association of contemporary artists – remont, other 3 groups –
corrosion, striper and low-fi video, found themselves in close thinking and
soon afterwards formed ZADRUGA (COOP), first supergroup or project that brought
different underground arts under one name – it was STRIPER with serious
community of underground comic authors, it was LOW-FI VIDEO which was another
major community supporting and collecting amateur shortfilms production, and of
course, there was CORROSION, a demoscene forefront. together we used our skills
and network to organise more public events – most important achievemnts of
ZADRUGA include the full-year of RECYCLING TOUR, which was our project to visit
as much of serbian cities (especially small ones) and bring out our mixed event
of shortfilms, videos, demos, comics and music to people that are otherwise
unable to find about it. RECYCLE TOUR was happening in different locations, not
always related to usual cultural joints – our events were often located in some
local restaurant or cafe because of our outsiders politics approach – we
cooperated only with organisations that were not connected to government nor
B92, but we still managed to make about 10 events, one of them being ZADRUGA’s
peak, when we were invited to participate in net.congestion festival in
Amsterdam, Holland in 2000, where we were honoured with the chance to make an
opening ceremony at De Balle… the last event created by all ZADRUGA people
was SFEF (serbian festival of electric films) in 2002. after that it was
obvious that low-fi video is loosing it’s breath, and that was the time when
kosmoplovci have already emerged (and did full production of SFEF, including
SCENE STRIKE 6 demoparty) and decided to continue on on our own later with
NOMAD platform/festival that would again provide a place for everyone…

aside of our events, we supported and took part in many other events throughout
serbia, one of the especially important being JFJF festival (Yugoslav Festival
of Cheap Film) that fullfilled our lives 4 times, each summer from 1997 to 2001
in Subotica, where we took place in shortfilm/animation competitions with our
demo works and in concert programme with our pioneer live music projects like
LTK (lo-tek kings) and CODEX which remains even today as a leading force on the
drum’n’bass scene.

i could use even more of your time documenting what else and when happens, but
there is just not enough space and time to gather all that in one text file…
we were simply keeping active everywhere we could find the place for our work
and intests – being it demoscene, clubscene or art scene. the idea of demoscene
was always central to our role and existence, we never even tried to hide it and
are very proud to have roots in it. even more, we were always trying to transfer
our knowledge and practice that we learned from demoscene in our collaborations.
that is how ZADRUGA happenned, led by idea to put our different works and
interests in relaxed and open atmosphere that is common on demoscene, it grew
on and brought us to many new forms of cooperation, which ultimatelly led us to
creation of kosmoplovci in 2001 – a group that took on the building blocks of
ZADRUGA, but without LOWFI VIDEO project which decided to leave on it’s own,
and soon afterwards was discontinued… some of LOWFI video legacy is kept
inside kosmoplovci work, some of it is transformed to festival form, so in some
way, lowfi video, at least as a concept, is still there, as we will always pay
attention to good shortfilm or experimental video, regardless of it’s demoscene

so… we finally come to kosmoplovci. as you see from our history, it is not
something new that was created from the scratch, it is a result of many years
of efforts and events that led us to try different things and search ourselves
in it. the lack of proper definition for our wide interests and knowledge has
always been a trademark of our work, being it corrosion, zadruga or
kosmoplovci, but it was always clear that we are not someone to be ignored and
have even lot more to say than we did so far… in a way, our own work has
become our definition, so we finally managed to become something which is truly
ours. and we feel we have only started… one of our internal saying is that we
have always around 100 projects in the works, around 1000 in preparation and
about 1000000 that are yet to become. certainly lot more than we can achieve
during our lifespan, but the idea is not to build the monument for ourselves,
but to bring out new ideas and inspire other people and next generations to
continue our research – and that is exactly what it is – our work is primarily
a research project where our knowledge is surfacing as a message in sound and
vision and in all kind of media – whatever is on our disposal and whatever we
have mastered so far. the technology is also important, but we have to master
it in order to be able to create our own ideas and not just reproduce some
(software designers’) pattern. understanding the technology on philosophical
level is one of the most important goals that kosmoplovci explore, and our
ever-growing ‘interdisciplinary team’ is in state of permament development
towards it.

and maybe this is the most important legacy of kosmoplovci after all, dedication
to search for a new ways to develop atmosphere of openminded exchange,
collaboration and communication towards creating new forms of expression and
communication. and not neccesarily on computers. our drawing section is treated
the same as our computer works and vice versa – as long as they comply with the
high goals that we strive to achieve in absolute level.

thanks to our persistence, we are slowly becoming a known and respected name
which has it’s position and meaning both in music scene, demoscene and art
scene, where we take part whenever there is a mutual goal that moves us a step
closer to improve. among many other positions and places involved, our three
main position towards those scenes can be summed up like this…

1. musicscene
in music scene, we have managed to create strong relations to underground and
experimental music scene, where we originated and still play an important role.
we are supporting and network with people of all ages – both older and younger
than us – in a ultimate effort to create an independent music scene – something
that still doesn’t exist in serbia, but also to find our place on global scale,
not just local. however, since our country has a serious problem with
communication channels with broadband internet just now slowly coming in our
homes (and at the same time being hugely overexpensive), we are now focusing on
searching and networking with other groups and communities, to prove that
serbian electronic scene is not dead at all, it’s just extremely scaterred and
unconnected, and it’s actually full of interesting people and work – even more
than our greatest optimism had us thinking… as with other our work, our
involvement in the music scene is also not closed to a certain style – as much
as we create and support experimental and avanguarde scene, we are also
strongly connected to rave and clubscene, both in music production and

2. demoscene
we always keep close and even insist on demoscene for being our main community
and form of function. this is where we find ourselves most suitable to function
and operate, celebrating it’s non-confroming uncensored self-organised freestyle
and expanding it to make room for all kind of artists – we are always on lookout
for new people and try to help and support them as much as we can, many of
todays active members learned about computers inside our community, some of
them had even their first contacts with computers inside kosmoplovci and now
they are making their own illustrations, 3d models and animations. so, being a
workshop and a kind of school is another thing that has been there with us all
the way. today we strongly believe that internet is becoming a new tissue, an
important system that can finally provide entities to function outside of it’s
geographical or cultural bonds – this oportunity is bringing us more closer to
reaching our global goals as a species, and this is where we are focusing now,
networking and expanding outside of serbia.

3. artscene
thanks to our multitude of contacts and collaboration with art scene and
instituions, which is primarily a result of our pioneering efforts in bringing
out computers as an artistic platform before anyone else, we were and still are
cooperating with them in many ways. aside from using their spaces and resources
in order to make exhibitions, performances, seminars, workshops and
demoparties, we have been producers for many websites and multimedia projects
that are running the serbian art scene, some of them already becoming a
wide-known reference which led us to other projects and people. one of the
direct benefits from collaborating with art scene was certainly the
possibillity to travel outside country, during times where that was rather
impossible for a common man around here. so, thanks to our positition, we had a
a chance to take part in art expeditions where we traveled together with
contemporary artists and presented our work in form of concerts, live
performances and projections which took place in slovenia, austria and czech
republic. this has led us very close to the art scene, but their interests were
just to narrow for us, so later we continued to work on international coops on
our own – which led us to creating NOMAD, an international multimedia
collaborative platform that had it’s physical incarnations in graz/austria,
krakow/poland and belgrade/serbia during 2004 and 2005. later on, we have again
tried tried to pull long-term cooperations with some cultural institutions, in
order to create a proper media lab – a place that would be able to provide
learning space for new people, but not much of those really picked on, because
serbian art institutions are not quite what they say they are (especially the
government ones)… the reasons may be many, and most obviously there is a
wide-spread corruption which prevents people to actually get the support for
project unless they are in ‘proper circles’ (and allow part of it to be
‘lost’). since this is a political problem and require us to choose sides, we
keep away from it and continue to seek out the partners that are able to work
with us without forcing us to take sides based on daily politics. although
slow, changes are hapenning, so i think our cooperation with art scene will
continue to evolve. currently, after a few years break, we are preparing NOMAD
demoscene/art/music festival in cooperation with CZKD (Center for Cultural
Decontamination) which seems like a possible new home for us and our projects.
although it may look like serbian art intitutions are supporting us, it is more
a result of our good negotiation skills, persistence, patience and our
capability to explain same things in many different ‘languages’, especially in
‘art’ language.

4. finland
one thing that should not be left out unmentioned is our continous following of
the demoscene – we were always striving to keep up with the current ongoings by
getting fresh releases, mags, music, whatever is released in the scene and
distributed through bbs and later internet – getting and distributing demoscene
stuff was actually one of the reasons for our ‘trading’ section to exist in the
first place. although we did follow the complete scene, for some reason finland
became a landmark of our interests in audio/video explorations on demoscene and
especially during 90’s when groups like jormas, cncd, embassy, koma, tpolm,
mfx, orange, halcyon were on top of our daily inspiration. maybe it was
something in their attitude that was close to us, maybe because of their
kung-fu ‘street meets hi-tech’ style which was also quite close to our
understanding, maybe because of the brave experiments of sound and vision that
was put into their work, who knows exactly why, but the finnish part of
demoscene was, at least to us in corrosion and later in kosmoplovci, very
important in our hearts. i can even say that probably more than half of work
that we ever played was created by finnish sceners… therefore, finland became
our most desired destination and source of inspiration, a place that we felt
close as our own home and destination that was high on our fictive routes,
waiting for some better times when we would be able to actually visit and meet
the people, a task which is still hard and complicated to a moderate serbian
citizen… fortunatelly, our notorierity has managed to help us somewhere, so,
after many virtual appearances, in 2008 we were finally able to visit finland
physically, to participate in demoparty (altparty that was) and finally meet
the people we highly respect – just to find out that in years respect has
become mutual – an unexpected but quite rewarding score, especially considering
the whole history about our wishes, goals and roots of inspiration. even more,
our visit to finland demoscene has not only brought us close to people we
admire, but it has also gave us an oportunity to start a new communications,
fortunatelly bringing new stuff into our lives in near future. now, with even
higher goals and expectations, and after 4 years of organizing break, we are
now working on prepations for NOMAD 2009 event in belgrade, where we will work
on providing another hotspot for artistic and experimental sides of the
demoscene, with kosmoplovci as hosts, with hopes of having international
guests, and hopefully with reviving some of non-kosmoplovci serbian scene, if
there is anyone still around.

at the end, how can i make a conclusion over something that has just begun… we
have already been in many different situations and places, that it is now hard
even to remember and connect them all, but still this is just a small part of
things that happened and that will happen. in this attempt to write down our
history path (for the first time in this scale) i’ve tried to put down in
perspective some of our key moments in hope someone will be able to comprehend
and see the bigger picture that makes us what we are. however, if i would still
have to choose the most important thing that builds kosmoplovci, it would be the
same thing that was there in the beginning of corrosion back in 1992 –
dedication to friendship and ever evolving open mind, vibrant exchange of both
finished and unfinished works, materials and ideas, and each ones personal
dedication to the project. without those foundations, and without our embedded
need for communication and socializing, most, if not all of our ideas would be
much smaller and less significant (if realised at all). and if someone asks, we
didn’t not invent anything, we are merely researching and learning the path
already started by great people of the past and with highest respect to their
work, we try to build up, enhance and evolve ideas, to bring them on next
level, the one that would be understandable to future generations. and anyone
interested to join up in this quest is free to contact and take part in it.

peace out
dominator / kosmoplovci
belgrade, serbia

further research:

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STUDIOSTRIP (comics/illustration releases)
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KOSMOPLOVCI.NET (main portal)
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KOSMOPLOVCI.COM (secondary portal)
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