Ars Electronica – Save the world with bits and bytes

We must be the largest and most important innovative project of the 21st century – our image and worldview, our community, our relationship to other living creatures and nature – says Ars Electronica, which is doing this year, programmatically in press documents. he doesn’t deal with the little things, but he asks some really big questions: “Welcome to Planet B – Another life is possible! But how?” is the title and motto of the festival.

The Linz Media Art Festival sees itself as a kind of laboratory where representatives of science, technology and art meet to initiate an interdisciplinary, global discourse. Thousands of interested parties from all over the world will gather in the city on the Danube from Wednesday 7th to Sunday 11th September. The program brochure contains hundreds of activities on nearly 100 fine-printed pages. From 10 a.m. to midnight all kinds of things are offered non-stop: workshops, for example in artificial intelligence, guided tours that introduce neuroscience, “immersive experience” – for example in the art of silence of the Greek media artist Georgios Tsampounaris – also sounds promising – of course discussions and Lectures special issue.

robots and bacteria

The Lentos Art Museum shows “A Parallel (R) Evolution” – media art from Central and South America, and the Ars Electronica Center Tech Museum shows the exhibition “There is no planet B. Global Warming and Human Responsibility”, which is based on energy generation coils, organizers the exhibition seems to have preceded the current explosiveness of the topic. The collaboration with the Vatican is also unprecedented: in Deep Space 8K, the exhibition space at the Ars Electronica Center, two works by Pietro Perugino from the Sistine Chapel are shown as gigapixel images. This is the first collaboration between Ars Electronica and the Vatican Museums, moreover, the Mona Lisa da Vinci is designed as immersive visual experience; The “Wiener Zeitung” is the media partner of the high-caliber news event (Friday, September 9, from 11:00 to 12:00).

One of the crystallization points of the Ars Electronica Festival is, of course, the Johannes Kepler University campus. The main building, which also houses the canteen and the Science Center, presents exhibitions selected by international jurors.

All the projects that received the media art award “Złota Nica” can be seen at the CyberArts exhibition. This year, over 2,000 works from 88 countries were submitted. In this abundance lies the true creative potential of Ars Electronica.

American artist and musician Laurie Anderson (77) was deservedly honored this year as a “visionary pioneer”; On display is the singing bowl “Bowl and Blade”, one of her early works from 1966. A common feature of most of the exhibited objects is that they are not only about an aesthetic approach, but rather the question of how the world is changing. by means of art can improve.

For example, in the “Interactive Art” category, “ Resist likebacteria” was selected. Artists Jung Hsu and Natalia Rivera transformed the yellow umbrella, symbolizing the Hong Kong demonstrations, into an independent WiFi system complete with a mini server and router. The high-tech umbrella works like an independent network. From now on, the demos cannot be disconnected from the network. Resistance to mobile connections.

The “Avatar Robot Café” from the Japanese lab Ory also deals more with social issues than aesthetic theories: with a mini-robot that looks like a shiny white electronic children’s toy, people can start talking to each other who would otherwise. never meet. The avatar robot is touted as an “instrument against social loneliness”, has long been used in Japan as a digital waiter in coffee shops, and in Linz, several prototypes are used during the festival.

The Sleep Study project, which is not meant to be deadly serious, explores the critical potential of the late risers to capitalism. “The current model – eight hours of work, eight hours of free time, eight hours of sleep – does it really have to be?” Asks Australian media artist Tega Brain.

One floor above, the “S + T + ARTS” exhibition honors the exemplary collaboration between artists and scientists. In “Antarctic Resolution”, brought to life by the artist Giulia Foscaria, about 150 researchers of Antarctica have their opinion in an encyclopedia of over 1000 pages, asking for saving the continent.

“Optimism does not mean simply believing that everything will be better,” says Ars-Electronica director Gerfried Stocker, “but an unconditional will not to give up and continue working for a better world.”

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