Plzeňské sympozia

Kateřina Svatoňová

The Media Varieties of Czech Modernity

pp. 270–282, summary pp. 282–283

This article focuses on the environment of Czech modernity, framed by two crucial events of the end of the century organised in Prague – the first completely Czech General Land Centennial Exhibition: In Celebration of the Jubilee of the First Industrial Exhibition of 1791 in Prague (1891) and the Exhibition of Architecture and Engineering: Combined with an Exhibition of Motors and Auxiliary Machines for Small Entrepreneurs, with an Associated Exhibition of the Inventions for Entrepreneurs and with a Professional Exhibition of Tinsmiths of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown (1898), which may be perceived as a demonstration of the upcoming century, in which not only the medium of the cinematograph but also the existence of an independent state would fully develop. On the grounds of the exhibitions, fascinating spaces creating the visual experience of modernity and at the same time interdiscursive, intermedial and interdisciplinary displays of images-attractions, it is shown how the coaction of the individual innovations influenced the definition of the medium and the form of some images. In Czech milieu, however, these images are to a certain degree affected by the overlap of the struggles for the national revival and Austro-Czech compromise with the progressing technological-industrial revolution. Audiovisual inventions, optical toys and imaging had to fulfil a political function as well and therefore arose from the tension between modernistic progressiveness and nationalistic traditionalism. At the time of the celebration of progress, technology and modern inventions, even much more traditional procedures, media and images were adored in the Czech milieu, which were to strengthen the patriotic spirit. The treatise analysing the period discourse asks how the organisers coped with this tension between the new and the old, between the modern and the traditional, the ahistorical and historicity and what images were required, preferred and attractive in such a contradictory media as well as national situation.

Key words: Bohemian Lands, 19th century, cultural history, international exhibitions, Czech modernity, Prague, General Land Centennial Exhibition

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