Machinista was founded in 2003 as an “international internet-based festival of contemporary media art” in Perm City, West Ural region, Russia, by the public organisation Avtorskiy Dom, media artist Sergey Teterin, and Permian Regional Administration (Youth Committee).

A larger team of media artists and cultural activists from Perm / Moscow / St-Petersburg / Sydney & Helsinki formed the basis for the Machinista workgroup, collaborating to help realise the aims of the festival. This small team used a web-based curatorial strategy to attract worldwide interest, with only a small budget to support them. Biographies of those involved
can be found at www.machinista.ru.

The main subject of Machinista 03 was
Artificial Intelligence in Art: Faces of Machinic Ingenuity“,
and was themed according to the following categories:
– “Machine as the artist’s co-author
– “Machine in place of the artist
– “Vj’s vs. visualizers

An open submission policy was adopted, and media art works without genre limitations were accepted: video-art, music and sound, vj demos, multimedia installation, net-art, software art, graphical / 3D experiments etc. Works were uploaded on the Machinista website and published automatically. Each category was assigned its own online curator who could supervise work submission and give preliminary assessments.
Machinista received around 200 works from Russia, Australia, Germany, Sweden, USA, Belarus, Portugal, Hungary, Holland, Italy, Canada, France, Yugoslavia and UK. The most interesting entries, in the opinion of the category supervisors, were selected to receive prizes and each featured on the Machinista 03 CD-ROM. This was released in conjunction with the festival, and served as a directory for an emerging network of exciting new digital artists.

Machinista 2003 festival took place on April 12-13 2003, in Perm and Moscow, and consisted of a conference, presentation of shortlisted works and programme of events. The programme featured video screenings, varied media installations, and concerts / performances by media artists, VJs and musicians. Machinista 2003 attracted enthusiastic audiences and attention from international press.
Based on this success, and the versatile nature of an ONLINE curatorial policy, a decision was made to convert the OFFLINE element of Machinista into a migrating festival held in a different location every year, organised as an international collaboration between the original Russian team, and with the ONLINE element serving as the static base for submission of work.

The attendance of Pointless Creations from Glasgow at Machinista 2003 has led directly to the decision by the original organisers to choose Glasgow as host for the first Machinista festival outside of Russia.
An article was published in Sleazenation Magazine documenting Pointless’ trip to Machinista in Perm.

A year long project of open calls for organisers, supervisors, curators and helpers was set up to prepare for the 2004 events, Machinista’s official launch partytook place at The Chateau, Glasgow in November 2003.

In future years, Machinista will be held in various other cities across the world, continuing to exhibit its own uniquely diverse mixture of international art and technology.