Abstract- María José Monge, José-Carlos Mariátegui

Between a ‘new media hub’ and an unknown history: new media art in Costa Rica

The landscape of new media in Costa Rica, may be seen interesting yet complex. With 4 million inhabitants, Costa Rica is one of the most developed and active countries in Central America. Costa Rica is seen, particularly in the new media art scene, as one of the main activators of experimental work in
Central America. Therefore, new media art production in Costa Rica has acquired a significant role in the last years (mainly since early 2000). Is inevitable to associate this phenomenon with the promotion platform developed from within the Contemporary Art and Design Museum (Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporaneo, MADC). As the main hub of Central American new media art scene, Costa Rica is also strategic: there might be little interest in the world to what is happening in Nicaragua, Honduras or other narrow land-strips of the world, but clustering several countries together does gives much more possibilities for international visibility. Nevertheless, the relation between the current artistic production and the past works done in Costa Rica is still fairly unknown. For example, there were works during the late 70’s and early 80’s, such as the ones of video-performative nature
by Otto Apuy, or during the decade of the 90’s with media installations by Manuel Zumbado or video art works by Joaquín Rodríguez del Paso and Priscilla Monge that were produced with a much more elaborated language. The visibility of these of works was limited in its initial moment due to its ‘hybrid’
nature. From there to today’s current momentum there is an increase on the number of people that participate in the new media creative practice, which immediately triggers an increase in the quantity of production. This situation also
generates a new small portion of artists motivated by the world of possibilities and malleability of the technological artefact.
The paper centers its research on the use of video and new media in the early ‘new media’ history of Costa Rica (70’s to 90’s), focusing in an interpretative case study based on the works of some of those artists. We also seek to analyze,
from a historical view, two clearly defined processes that are found as part of this history: the process of institutionalization and the malleability of the technological