The spring issue of The Odessa Review is dedicated to the theme of technology and it is one that we are very proud of. The Ukrainian technology market and technological capacities are booming, expanding with ferocious speed. Innovation is the strength of this growing sector. The country is quickly becoming a hub for technical innovation. Yet if the country and the region are changing very quickly, some things remain as they have been and there has been some continuity with past celebrations of technological prowess. In fact April 12th, which had previously been marked as the Soviet holiday “International Cosmonautics Day” has been renamed “International Day of Human Space Flight” by the United Nations in April of 2011. That is the charming sort of decommunization that we can get behind!
In thinking about the role that technology and technological policy plays in the development of contemporary Ukrainian and world culture, we have tried to be as broad minded as possible in the sorts of social processes that we wish to explore. We are proud to have had a conversation with the very thoughtful technology investor Yegor Grebennikov, the founder of Hub Odessa and the Green theater. We explored the workings and ambitions of the Hub in a profile. The very promising Ukrainian artist Sophia Bulgakova, now based in the Netherlands, attended the cool technology and art festivals in Berlin this year so that the rest of us could read about minimalist techno raves. The Hromadske television journalist Maria Romanenko wrote about Blockchain innovation in Ukrainian fashion technology and what it means for the future of fashion.
The British journalist David Patrikarakos — whom I am proud to call a dear friend —
has recently published his “War in 140 characters”, which is a brilliant and lively study of the manner in which information war is weaponized within contemporary social media networks. Patrikarakos has written an opinion column explaining the way that ideological battles within social media are now more important than tank battles in real life to the pursuit of military victory. Sadly, those techniques of meme oriented political warfare were perfected on Ukrainian soil and used against the Ukrainian state. Which however, if nothing else, proves yet again that Ukraine is ground zero for technological innovation — even when it is the sort that we would prefer to have much less of.
Lastly, our intrepid theater critic Larissa Babij returns this issue with an extended meditation on the troubled legacy of the concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk, whose complex and troubled life has been turned into a controversial play. Babij also continues her conversation with the American historian Mayhill Fowler, whose
masterful recent book on 1920’s Ukrainian cultural policy “Beau Monde On Empire’s
Edge”, she reviewed for us last month. Their conversation about the history of the
avant-garde theater in Ukraine, including the legacy of the great director Les Kurbas,
and the way in which that same history isnow being explored by a new generation of
young theater people and scholars, is of critical importance. I hope that you enjoy it.