Ars Electronica 2006
Festival-Website 2006
Back to:
Festival 1979-2007


Ars Electronica Animation Festival

'Dietmar Offenhuber Dietmar Offenhuber / 'Christine Schöpf Christine Schöpf

“I waited for technology to catch up with my vision,” is a frequently quoted line from George Lucas, one of the great masterminds of the cinema. Early works turned out by Lucas’ special effects factory, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM)—films like Young Sherlock Holmes, Abyss, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park—are all examples of the pursuit of this course. Each film was the outcome of the next step in software development, advances in the depiction of, for instance, light, natural materials, motion and facial expressions. And in each one, the proportion of digital imagery grew steadily longer: from only 6 minutes in Jurassic Park to, a couple of years later, a full 40 minutes in Casper (also from ILM). Parallel to this development, pure computer animation was also making rapid progress; the 1995 release of Toy Story by Pixar Studios meant that the first such feature film had reached the big screen.

At that time, it was no doubt also a keen interest in technology that led to the reception of the film's story being supplemented in many cases with publications providing highly detailed descriptions of the various hardware and software used, as well as documentaries chronicling the “makings of.”

And today—12, 15 years later? Aside from specialists in the field, who’s interested nowadays in “how’d-they-do-that” and “what’d-they-use”? One describes in and with images and not with techniques. Our communication is defined by digital imagery, and our perception of the real worlds that surround us is based on an almost endless world of images. All the facets across the board of everyday life—politics, social phenomena, statistical data, lifestyle, gaming, shopping, fashion, entertainment, etc.—have their place in a descriptive catalog of different languages of forms. Even the imagining of unreal worlds and creatures is subject to hardly any limitations—“merely” ones imagination, that’s all.

Approximately 1,000 films—major Hollywood productions, creative TV commercials, shorts, experimental videos and individual motion picture miniatures from 71 countries around the world, as well as works by Austrian youngsters age 19 and under that were submitted for prize consideration to the 2006 Prix Ars Electronica, illustrate the entire multicultural bandwidth of contemporary animated filmmaking.

Each year, the 15 best works will be singled out for recognition with prizes and awards of recognition.

Plus, with 11 hours of selected films, the Computer Animation Festival will provide a comprehensive look at the current state of cinematic creativity on both a commercial and an artistic level.

Translated from German by Mel Greenwald

  • Generative Animation

  • A program of current artistic examples of processual, program-controlled image design curated by artists Lia (A) and Miguel Carvahais (ES).

  • Prix Selection: Small World Machines

  • The world as a fantastic machine whose mechanism does not always obey laws we are capable of grasping. The inhabitants of it are sometimes grains of sand and sometimes tiny gears. A mix of poetic, absurd and occasionally furious miniatures.

  • Prix Selection: Exquisite Monsters

  • The world of computer animation is inhabited by many different species of monsters—friendly ones and menacing ones too, those that are mechanical, animalistic and human. The computer becomes a genetics lab in which the engineers’ inventiveness knows no limits.

  • Prix Selection: Narration

  • Storytelling has always been one of filmmakers’ main motivations. Recollections emerge from out of a photo album; roommates discuss some problems that have arisen and encounter the unexpected; an car race charged with tension and excitement; and even discarded alarm clocks, which also have their stories to tell—these narratives relate common and uncommon situations from everyday life!

  • Prix Selection: Time in Motion

  • Movement, rhythm, speed and standstill are the ingredients of this program. The spectrum ranges from a chase cartoon to suggestive visual music in which image, color, movement and sound blend together.

  • Prix Selection: Visual Effects and Commercials

  • There’s hardly a feature film or ad spot made today that doesn’t utilize special effects. The most common ones are high-speed or highly unusual tracking shots, utopian scenery and death-defying stunts. In some films’ credits, the FX crew takes up more footage than all the other technicians combined. This program is a “greatest hits” compilation from recent films and commercials.

  • Prix Selection: Music Videos

  • With the revival of analog trick techniques, the retro look has become totally hot in the music video production field. Rarely in the past has this genre included as much animation as it has in the last two years.

  • Prix Selection: Monochromatic/b/w

  • Color reduction and a language of graphic forms are the characteristics of this program. The content is a highly diverse mix of short stories.

  • Prix Selection: Late Night

  • A program for night people with a dark sense of humor: offbeat situations, stirring flashes of inspiration and trashy aesthetics assure a thoroughly tolerable chill-out.

  • Freestyle Animation u19

  • Participants in the Prix Ars Electronica’s annual competition for young people show how it’s done. The choice of tools and media is open-ya know, freestyle computing, just like it sez. And the stuff these talented young animators and up-and-coming directors have come up with is really cool. This “best of” lineup was curated by Sirikit Amman, member of the u19 jury.

  • Japanese Animation

  • Visual imaginativeness and unconventional narrative forms characterize animation made in Japan. This program curated by the Media Arts Festival Tokyo showcases a cross-section of artistic productions from recent years.