kinema ikon – multimedia atelier was founded by George Sabau in 1970. The group underwent several periods of activity throughout the years. During the experimental film phase (1970 – 1989), 62 experimental films and 62 documentaries were produced; the experimental films were made in synchronicity with Western practices, and included: kinetic abstractions, animation, scratching on film, Surrealist exercises, non-figurative dynamic forms painted directly on film, juxtapositions of fragments of everyday material reality, etc. Within the context of the Communist regime, these works can be interpreted, almost exclusively, as forms of “samizdat.” In 1990, ki became a part of the Arad At Museum.
A new generation of artists began producing mixed media and video installation work; after the fall of the Berlin Wall, kinema ikon was finally able to respond to an invitation to show a selection of experimental films at the Centre Pompidou/ Cinéma du Musée. Between 1994 and 2004, the group was one of the main promoters of digital art in Romania; interactive work on CD-ROM or net.art was made during this period, authored by individual members and as a group, shown in exhibitions and festivals around the world. In 2003, kinema ikon represented the Romanian Pavilion at the Venice Biennial.
Since 2005, once with the emergence of a group of young artists around KF Arad, kinema ikon returned to the production of hybrid works. Since 2012 the group has had its dedicated gallery space at the Art Museum in Arad, where it has developed several projects: Wunderkammer (3 exhibitions, 2012 – 2016), kinema ikon: serial / 4 seasons / 50 episodes-installations (2013 –2022), internet of ki (2017), screens (2017), 49.*files (2019). kimæra (2021-2023). Since 2014, kinema ikon has been the main organizer of MAFA - Media Art Festival Arad. The group has edited the magazines Conversația (1990 – 1993) and Intermedia (1994 – 2011).
Since 2012, ki publishes a yearly catalogue to accompany its main projects [and exhibitions], and edits the catalogue for MAFA. Calin Man is the group’s current coordinator.