Review: Digital art practices in Belarusian art

Our special review of digital art practices in Belarusian art. The text is published anonymously for the author's safety.

© Alexander Mikhalkovich: fragment of the project Making the Internet Remember the Holocaust, 2016 / caption to the slide "A photo with Nikita got here by the accident, I tested out how a service accepts hacked images. What a sunset in a black frame, very symbolic... This man throws the bodies into the ditch...".

Digital art practices in Belarusian art have their own specific representation, often presented in a rather fragmented form, yet there is no reason to denote their complete absence. Among the main factors influencing this situation, one can cite the lack of educational preparation (special courses on the history of video art and separate directions of media art as a whole have only recently appeared in central Belarusian universities, while commercial IT schools mainly focus on utilitarian tasks) and the scarcity of such examples in exhibition and curatorial activities in Belarus. Understood more as the entire spectrum of technologically mediated art from to works created using artificial intelligence today, these practices nevertheless figure in one form or another in the history of Belarusian art. However, in our view, it would be erroneous and incorrect to register everything under a common heading, and, for clarity of presentation, it is worth drawing boundaries. The generally accepted theoretical division of the entire field of digital art is as follows:

1. Digital practices that use computer technologies for traditional visual forms (computer graphics, animation, digital photography, etc.). In this area, the use of technologies enhances the process of artistic creation without fundamentally altering its visual nature. However, there are examples of works where the functionality of the technical media is also conceptualized. Therefore, such forms of digital visual creativity are also considered artistic. It should be noted that it is this area that is most often understood as what digital art is in general (especially in Belarus).

2. The second group encompasses a wide range of innovative practices, typically presented in screen-based, installation, performative and mixed forms. These include: software art, information visualization, algorithmic art; "spatial" forms – installations (virtual reality, multimedia installations, etc.); performative practices – multimedia performances; network art (Net Art), NFT and others. In addition, there is a bordering and highly developed area in contemporary artistic practice that converges both technology and science – . Works created in this area are classified as digital art, as the main genetic code of this art form lies in the appropriation of scientific discourse.

The main objectives of this review, as we see them, include analyzing such important aspects as the institutionalization of digital art practices in Belarusian art, namely a series of initiatives and events that have mostly taken place in Belarus (exhibitions, forums, etc.), reflecting the interest in this area of ​​art, the peculiarities of its own developmental trajectory, as well as attempting to find innovative examples among them, as it is precisely these examples that qualitatively influence the entire artistic process as a whole. Since the first group of digital practices described above is quite extensive and primarily of an applied nature, we will focus our efforts on describing conceptually more innovative examples.

The historical trajectory of the development of global digital art is structured into the following periods: cybernetic art (1950s–1970s) – the active development of "machine creativity," early computer art; the period from the late 1980s to the 2010s – the emergence of the first communication projects, digital installations, the appearance of network art, the active formation of basic practices, etc.; from 2010 to the present day – the digital abundance of artistic forms, the emergence of NFTs, AI art.

© group – fragment of the work "Outsourcing Paradise (Parasite)" at the exhibition "SILENT WORKS. The Hidden Labor in AI-Capitalism", Haus der Statistik, Berlin, 2020 / © photo: Andi Weiland

In the context of the Belarusian artistic process, the following situation can be noted: the cybernetic period is unexplored, although it is known that Belarus had several major institutions involved in the development of early computers, including the Cybernetics Institute at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (now functioning as the United Institute of Informatics Problems of the NAN of Belarus). The period from the late 1980s to the 2010s saw the development of video art and its installation varieties as one of the dominant forms of technological artistic practices, interest in digital technologies at the level of local initiatives and international events, individual works, but overall, this did not result in the same abundance of forms as in global practice. It is worth mentioning an important point: although video art is considered a precursor to digital art as a whole, it has its own specific nature and history in Belarus and a much more pronounced character than other digital artistic forms. We believe it would be correct to consider this phenomenon separately. At the present stage, there is a certain wave of new interest in digital forms, especially in the context of the accessibility of new technologies – artificial intelligence has predetermined the movement in this area in Belarusian art as well.

Based on the fact that early examples of computer art worldwide emerged as a result of experiments in laboratory conditions (for example, by the American company BELL), while preparing material for this review, we initiated searches for similar examples in Belarus and analyzed materials from a small museum collection and library of the United Institute of Informatics Problems of the NAN of Belarus, as one of the leading institutes during the Soviet era. No documented or preserved artifacts were found (due to the fact that such experiments were generally not considered valuable or significant), however, in a private conversation with one of the computer graphics laboratory staff, it can be inferred from his recollections that such experiments mostly took place privately, were not documented and were not preserved (for example, he described experiments with visual laser effects undertaken as entertainment by the employees). We believe it is promising to continue further searches in this direction.


If we consider the representation of purely digital artistic practices in Belarusian art, it is fair, in my opinion, to distinguish numerous examples of video works, video installations, video projections and rare VJing works (such as the group ) as phenomena of technology, yet of a different (screen-based, light-based, etc.) artistic nature and principles. Perhaps this would not be a very long list of works. Despite the somewhat spontaneous and self-organized nature of this phenomenon in Belarus, we can identify a number of authors and bright, conceptually interesting artistic projects, at least partially covering various forms of innovative digital artistic practices from installations (multimedia installation, data visualization) and network art to AI and NFT forms.

© Screensaver of Ilya Andreev’s project site Hush City, 2008

One of the rare examples of networked work possessing qualities and important features of innovative digital artwork (in the form of a website, the narrative plays with the hypertextuality of the network conceptualizing user interface elements and web design) was the project by artist and designer Ilya Andreev (2008;, which received the prestigious Webby Award in 2009 in the field of network art. The project consisted of 4 parts with a prologue and epilogue and narrated, as noted by the authors (including Ilya Andreev and 15 others), a "universal, globally understandable story" of the relationship between a boy and a girl who once met on one of the streets of "hush" Minsk. Unfortunately, the work no longer exists, but a partial description of it has been preserved. In its form it presented a fairly linear narrative, where the main characters appeared sequentially: in the first part – the city of Minsk, the "narrator" (a boy with a tape recorder in his hands, starting the narration by pressing the play button), the main character and the heroine who do not notice each other yet. The second part depicted their sudden meeting and the beginning of their relationship. The third part showed their development and the fourth – the finale, in which the main heroine leaves. The parts corresponded to the seasons: the 1st part – autumn, followed by winter, spring and the concluding 4th part – again autumn. The sequential, linear development of this narrative was complemented by minimal user interactivity (selection of the viewing sequence) and the visual aspect of the work consisted of photographic material to which motion effects were applied using flash technologies, making it resemble a film (the authors themselves referred to the project as a "sketch film").

It is important to note that despite this definition, the authors maintained a certain boundary between the project's resemblance to a film and its computer (and network) nature. By alternating between "still frames" and "animated photographs" they created a unique pulsating rhythm of visual storytelling and simultaneously achieved an effect of "freezing" or "hanging" (enhanced by the musical accompaniment), emphasizing the simulation of movement (not actually captured by the camera, but its simulation). Additionally, they blended photographic objects with elements of the visual language of the internet (for example, the envelope icon representing receiving a message, a loading bar corresponding to the duration of months in a specific season, etc.), which is entirely typical for networked artistic practice.

One of the Belarusian artists working with digital artistic practices is . In his portfolio several significant digital and networked projects can be found, which need to be discussed in more detail.

One of his most extensive works, and in general, a rare example of an early multimedia project, is a 60-minute mono-opera (2006, shown three times in Cologne and Düsseldorf) for a singer performing the role of Orpheus, interacting with characters of video projection. Significant technical resources were required for its creation, editing and rendering, making it the only example in Belarusian art of such a large-scale project, which received a serious international award named after Nam June Paik.

© Questions of on -o-l-o-g-y website

The project -o-l-o-g-y is a web-based questionnaire consisting of 207 questions (in English) devised by 61 artists from different countries around the world. The title of the work – a "stretched" suffix -ology, which denotes a "field of study" (for example, technology, biology, etc.), reflects the characteristic view of the net artist on the work as a study. Upon visiting the website, users can choose from predefined answers or write their own and also discover the name of the question's author. All questions appear randomly and at any moment the respondent can pause the session and resume it. This communicative form in the guise of a simple questionnaire represents a rather speculative image of the birth and realization of any creative act, where the question serves as the idea, the answer options as possible versions of artistic solutions and the respondent's answer as its interpretation. The content of the questions and answers, their multitude, form a unique global text about the role of art, the artist and the viewer today.

© Maxim Tyminko and Alexander Komarov, Afterglow, 2016

The project (Sunset, 2016, together with ) uses special software that analyzes data from online weather services, calculates the location on Earth where the sunset is currently happening and predicts the sky color in that geographical point in real-time mode. The visual solution of the work consists of a three-part composition within a single document. In the center is the changing sky color, on the left is a "running line" with numbers of geographical and programmatic data and on the right is a satellite view of this location. Below is the control panel, where the user can zoom in on the image (satellite view), pause it, or view other data (up-down arrows). The project represents a classical form of data visualization, where the place of various data in modern human reality and our relationship to them are conceptualized and artistically interpreted as an integral part of visual and everyday culture. Therefore, alongside the view of the "real" geolocation, the "running line" of numbers, typically invisible (like computer code), occupies an equivalent place. In this project, two concepts merge – scientific and artistic. Scientific discourse (data analysis) is poeticized, while artistic gains scientific precision.

© Alexander Mikhalkovich: fragment of the project Making the Internet Remember the Holocaust, 2016 / caption to the slide “As it turned out, photos couldn’t be be published without the approval of the moderator. Status “Not yet reviewed. ”On “Google Earth” I uploaded the images from the Holocaust to Panoramio. They went up fast and allocated in the right place on the picture, i.e. my fake geotags ".

Project of represents a characteristic intervention typical of net art. The author inserted traumatizing, authentic archival images of mass executions of civilians by the Nazis during World War II into the feeds of popular websites and social networks, catching unprepared viewers. The black-and-white, highly authentic photo documents of the killings carried out in the specified "tagged" locations were intended, according to the photographer's concept, to "emerge" among typical user photos from these places. "I directly intruded into the comfortable world created by social networks and their users", Alexander Mikhalkovich describes. The artist's provoked intervention reflects not only on the theme of memory and archives but also on what such a form of network communication as a social network represents – the most common theme developed by digital artistic practices.

Separately, it is worth mentioning the digital work of the photographer and artist (Braunau-Graz-Minsk, February 2011–January 2012), which represents a conceptually sophisticated exploration of "scaling" as a crucial functionality of the digital environment. The work involves the viewer interacting with a significantly magnified (up to large pixels) image - a digital photograph of the doorstep of the house where Adolf Hitler was born. The image only shows the line of the threshold, with the adjacent sidewalk on one side and a fragment of the entrance floor on the other. The viewer doesn't know precisely where the line is located within the original image and the possibility for the viewer, who is interacting with it through the cursor, is immense. You can Cross the Threshold now and here.


The institutionalization of any phenomenon in art through specific events (publications, forums, seminars, exhibitions) within the national art process can be seen as one of the important factors determining whether certain phenomena borrowed from international practice will take root or not. Therefore, it seems necessary to outline the chronology of various events related to digital practices and related phenomena, which illustrates the process of gradually increasing interest in this topic within the Belarusian artistic community.

The first "traces" of interest in the general issues of digitization, the emergence of the Internet, problems of digitalizing art can be found in publications starting from 1998, for example, in the journal “” . These publications do not outline the process itself but rather introduce new technologies in art and have a more indirect nature. However, they serve as important evidence that, like the global art environment, Belarusian art was not indifferent to the processes of digitizing creativity, questions of digital aesthetics, the influence of the Internet and its own specifics, etc.

Following this, one of the most important events in this regard can be called the international seminar-meeting on network art – (Net-Art Meeting in Minsk, Minsk, gallery , 15.03– 03/22/2001). Among the organizers of the seminar were: the Association of Contemporary Art; scientific and practical seminar "Internet technologies, web design and computer graphics" at ; studio Oko Art 375; NOVA gallery; CRAC (Sweden). The seminar was also supported by: MediaLab (Moscow); Svaigs 99% (Riga); ; Computers and Peripherals; ISP Network Systems. The seminar lasted for 5 days, during which a round table was held on the issues of net art and art on the Internet; the potential, possible ways and strategies for the development of net art in Belarus, the systematization of artistic network resources and creative workshops for participants were also created. Unfortunately, it was not possible to find any documentary materials of this event; however, it is worth noting that such initiatives illustrate the degree of interest in innovative digital artistic practices, such as net art and their activation through such events in the artistic process almost simultaneously with global examples of the development of this practice (the first works of net art appeared in the mid-1990s). The seminar was a response to Belarusian participation in the meeting in Stockholm a year earlier, as well as in the seminar-exhibition on self-organization and networks, The Art of Organizing, at the Gallery Enkehuset also in Stockholm in 2000.

Several other events rather indicate the broad theme of digital practices in the artistic field of Belarusian art. The exhibition "Techno-art. Space of life" (Gallery , Minsk, 2006), which presented the works of 10 authors, including in the field of digital photography and 3-D animation, as well as the ongoing several years in a row, the international festival of digital art (a total of 4 festivals were held from 2009 to 2013 in exhibition spaces and galleries ) are nothing more than attempts to present the experience of working in traditional digital practices such as animation and computer graphics. However, let's not underestimate the role of such events in popularizing technologically-oriented artistic creativity in general.

Among all the events (materials of the Mastatstva journal analyzed for the period from 1989 to 2022), the majority are exhibitions where digital practices in their pure form are not featured. However, there are quite a few works of video art (including video installations) and even examples of rare science art. Among them, there are those that have significantly influenced the process of popularizing and expanding perceptions of new media (in the Belarusian context – even in the broad sense of the word, including other non-traditional media and their functionality in art).

© Fragment of the exposition of the personal exhibition of Anastasia Kolas Natural Causes, gallery Ў, Minsk, 2015

Exhibition of featured precisely and delicately orchestrated, cohesive artistic expression – a reflection on the theme of archives and archiving (video installation), on the materiality and time of its decay (one of the objects being a woman's milk presented in small plastic packets on the wall). This exhibition does not purely represent innovative forms of digital art, but rather alludes to technological and scientific discourse, which is an important aspect in shaping the ground for the perception of such art.

The most important educational event, playing the role of a workshop, in 2016 was the workshop of the Belarusian media artist Maxim Tyminko “Creative Coding. How to Become a Demiurge... in the Browser. Javascript and “living” art”, initiated by the gallery . Belarusian artists took part in it: , , , Jan Sakovich, Denis Sheka. The task of the workshop was to embody (using Javascript) the text of one of the “murals” by the classic of American minimalism Sol LeWitt, which is a kind of instruction, or a set of commands, which makes it organic for this kind of task. "On the surface of the wall, along its entire length, using a hard pencil, place fifty points freely. The points should be evenly distributed over the entire area of ​​the wall. All points should be connected by straight lines." Following the “instructions” of the American artist, the workshop participants create a dynamic virtual object (Drawing on the Wall, 2016) from graphic black lines and dots, with characteristic time loop movement, which can be stopped and resumed by the user at any time (minimal level of interactivity but conceptually significant, as the object has a different shape in each moment of both movement and pause). Such an interpretation of the text of the American classic is not only another version of embodying his idea among others but also clearly demonstrates one of the most important constructs of digital and networked artwork – time. While maintaining the "flatness" of the monitor, similar to the flatness of the wall, but using the technique of kineticizing a static (in this case, Sol LeWitt originally envisioned a drawing on the wall) abstract object, the project authors seemingly "animate" it, allowing the user/viewer to "examine" it from all sides, giving the flat image virtual volume and depth not inherent to it physically but felt virtually.

One of the key events in general for the artistic process in Belarusian art was the international residence and exhibition in the now non-existent space (Minsk, moderated by ). In his article dedicated to this project, Pavel elaborately describes what was presented at the exhibition and mentions among many projects the works of the Belarusian group Monogroup (Natalia Nemkova, Alexander Khodyakov, Yana Sukhotskaya, Artem Atrashkevich), who work at the intersection of interdisciplinary practices. In particular, together with Ekaterina Bryskina, a graduate of the program in the field of advanced technologies and design at the Architectural Association in London, they created an installation resembling a real laboratory where mushroom spores provided by the Gomel Institute of Forestry of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus were grown. They recorded the reaction of visitors using a synthesizer and sensors installed on plant leaves. This is an example of undoubtedly serious conceptual work at the border of scientific and technological artistic practices.

© Domnich and Gelfand: Rippling Invisible Fields, 2017

Among the influential events, like Anastasia Kolas's exhibition, we can mention the exhibition of in 2017 at the art gallery . However, their works primarily serve as examples of the development of science art practice and, most likely, are only indirectly associated (in the viewer's consciousness, as something quasi-technological, scientific) with the theme.

© VR object by Zahar Kudin as part of the exhibition Neurostructures, Zair Azgur Memorial Studio Museum, 2017

In the same 2017, for his personal exhibition in by , in collaboration with the Gallery of Virtuality (VIR), specially creates a park of neurostructures in VR.

Literally singular works somehow related to digital artistic practices sporadically appear even at exhibitions organized by state institutions. For example, the project (, 2019), where Alexander Mikhalkovich's net-artwork Making the Internet Remember the Holocaust was presented, which is described in more detail above.

In 2019, the Gallery of Contemporary Art Ў became a partner in the Eastern and Central Europe Calling artistic exchange project, which was conducted by a network of residencies in Austria and contemporary art institutions from 7 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The artist and curator Davide Bevilacqua (Linz, Austria), who works in the field of digital art, was selected as the gallery's resident artist. As part of this program, screenings of films about one of the oldest electronic art festivals – Ars Electronica, were held, undoubtedly expanding the range of perceptions about digital practices among the Belarusian audience.

In recent years, due to the widespread availability of artificial intelligence tools, there has been a kind of surge of interest in these technologies and the consolidation of information about digitized artistic forms in the public consciousness. For example, in 2023, as part of the Art-Minsk 2023 festival (, ZAL #2, Minsk), the project "" was presented. The text of the explication states the following: “The project is dedicated to digitalization trends in modern artistic practices and presents the searches of Belarusian artists in the aesthetics of digitalization from paintings and sculptural forms to experiments in the field of raster graphics, 3D graphics, video art, NFT, artificial intelligence, etc.”. This description again demonstrates the broad understanding of digital art in the Belarusian context, but it also highlights the emergence of, for example, the first NFT artworks. The dissemination of perceptions about new technological practices is to some extent facilitated by commercial, popular exhibitions (such as "Artificial Intelligence: Artist or Machine?" at the National Centre for Contemporary Arts) and the emergence of what organizers in Minsk call an "immersive" space (World of Illusions at Diamond City shopping center) for a wide audience. All of this has more of a fair-like character, and one could note both positive and negative roles, as it solidifies in the consciousness of Belarusian viewers a false understanding of the artistic characteristics of this area of art.

© Oleg Yushko: Portable Museum, 2019

At the current stage, the situation with digital art in Belarus is changing somewhat – there is the emergence of a new generation of artists (particularly notable projects were presented at the exhibition "", Vilnius, 2023, curated by and ), thanks to European training for professional digital tools. Their works demonstrate a high artistic skill and expand the range of artistic practices. For example, the installation , repeatedly “played” in different spaces, is an example of a classic multimedia work. Following it are VR spaces of (for example, ); installations of (); series of ; VR objects of (work as part of the exhibition , curator: ); works of – , , – which the author himself calls AR sculptures.

© eeefff group: fragment of the project Error-Friendly Networks, 2019

The group demonstrates a wide range of forms of digital practices. In their online works (, , etc.) they employ "favorite" Net art techniques – creating narrative collages with elements of web design, playing with network discourse and its lexicon. In a number of other works (including those represented as installations, for example, ) they rely on gaming techniques and activism tactics – quite characteristic and often used in digital art, prompting reflection on the peculiarities of digital culture as a whole, its visual-linguistic regularities and language.

© Sasha Velichko: fragment of the project State of Denial, 2023

In addition, artists have appeared working with AI in art: for example, the project of . The spontaneity and self-organization of this process are being replaced by professional training and the accessibility of tools, which entirely encourages the prospect of the development of such practices in Belarusian art.


  • 1

    A. Turavsky: Windows Belaruski (June, 1998); A. Yankovsky: Self-Portrait in a Computer Interior (August, 1998), where the works of the BT computer graphics studio are reviewed; Y. Barysevich: Search in the Internet (May, 2000); Yu. Borisevich: Communication Revolution (June, 2000); A. Davydchyk: The Internet as a Cultural and Social Reality (October, 2000); M. Gromika: Belarusian Artist in the World Wide Web: Full of Hope Today - Uncertain Tomorrow (September, 2000); K. Remishevsky: New Media: Pros and Cons (July, 2003); S. Smulskaya, N. Tsaryk: Web Design: Technology, Aesthetics, Communication" (June, 2003).

  • 2

  • 3

    "On a wall surface, аny continuous stretch of wall, using a hard pencil, place fifty points at random. The points should be evenly distributed over the area of the wall. All of the points should be connected by straight lines". Sol Lewitt. Wall Drawing 118 

  • 4

    Название заимствовано из проекта российского художника Сергея Катрана: инсталляция "Большое семейство чайного гриба Комбуча-Достоевский", 2013.


  • Hanna Panyutich (XYANA)
  • National Library of Republic of Belarus
  • Sasha Velichko
  • Katerina Sokolovskaya
  • Maxim Tyminko
  • Aleksander Komarov
  • Alexander Mikhalkovich
  • Igor Savchenko
  • Anastasia Kolas
  • Zhanna Gladko
  • Sergey Kiryuschenko
  • Pavel Voinitski
  • Zahar Kudin
  • Antonina Stebur
  • Anna Sokolova
  • Daria Sazanovich
  • Александра Соколовская
  • Ilona Dergach
  • Oleg Yushko
  • Anna Radzko
  • Gleb Burnashev
  • Tamara Sokolova
  • Anna Kovshar
  • Культурный Хаб ОК16
  • Aleksei Borisionok
  • an angelico
  • Domnich & Gelfand
  • eeefff
  • Mastactva
  • Mastactva (Art)
  • NOVA
  • Y gallery (Ў)
  • Zair Azgur Memorial Studio Museum
  • National Center for Contemporary Arts of the Republic of Belarus
  • Palace of Arts
  • European Humanities University
  • University of Culture (gallery)
  • Ok16
  • Арт-Минск