Ars Electronica 2007
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OVERTURES Environmental Office

There is hardly an issue of more pressing and decisive importance to mankind's future than Earth’s natural resources. Indeed, there are ecological as well as mental aspects involved in how society is dealing with this.Then again, the growing scarcity of our essential raw materials is not the only item on humanity’s agenda that requires urgent attention; at the same time on a meta-level, the process of coming to terms with our resources addresses the future potential of human intelligence expanded via artificial and technological means.

OVERTURES, a series of projects launched in the year 2000, deals with a complex of issues having to do with water. From its very inception, this has been designed to entail close cooperation among artists, curators, technologists, scientists, economists and media experts. From the consequences of climatic change, the details of which are still unforeseeable, OVERTURES derives designs for alternative food for thought and points of view in order to provide society with options for action that are artistically accented and thus intentionally left open. For example, artists are currently collaborating in various interdisciplinary partnerships to develop works whose field of resonance is centered on the problematic issue of the changing role of water in the future.

The preconditions for exploring and commenting on global manifestations of nature and the environment are physical experience and a process of confronting local situations. Accordingly, OVERTURES 3 is planned as a long-term north-south expedition in several cities and countries (2006: Iceland; 2007: the Alpine Region and Turkey; 2008: Spain).The aim is to engage in an open process in which to formulate scenarios for a global approach to the subject of resources. The North: rich in water and energy; the South: land of sun and drought; at each stopover of this interdisciplinary caravan, the travelers will investigate the local conditions of water in a global context.

At the 2007 Ars Electronica, artists will stage an Environmental Office for environmental information, monitoring and control. Furthermore, three selected projects revolve around this year’s festival theme,“Goodbye Privacy.”After all, the increasing freedom and mobility that result from the telecommunicative act simultaneously open the door to control of the private sphere.


Silver & Hanne Rivrud introduce an avatar into the real public sphere. Via a cellphone’s command keys, the user can issue all kinds of orders to an initially unidentifiable action figure. But there’s a nasty wakeup call awaiting at the end, when the display shows the amount of CO2 emissions that were caused by the interaction.


Ecological wear and tear is illustrated here using the example of the Toefrafoss waterfall, which is also threatened by destruction from the construction of a hydroelectric plant. Icelandic artist Rúrí uses three screens to document how industrial interests are bringing about the flooding of a unique highland ecosystem in her country.

Calling the Glacier— A Mobile Elegy

Sound researcher Kalle Laar has set up the first direct telecommunications hook-up with European glaciers. Microphones set up on site provide users with an up-close-and-personal auditory experience: the actual sounds—hissing, streaming, creaking, grunting and groaning—made by these melting ice-giants. This inexorable glacial process will be transmitted directly in real time to cellphones, and allow us to witness a matter of fact that has an impact on all of us.

Translated from German by Mel Greenwald

OVERTURES: A project by artcircolo in partnership with Vodafone Group R&D Germany
Calling the Glacier—A Mobile Elegy: A project by artcircolo in partnership with Vodafone Group R&D Germany and with the support of the Commission for Glaciology of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Munich, and the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, Vienna
Intrigue_E production crew: Martin Havnør, Hanne Rivrud, Petr Svarovsky, Johan Sæther, Christian Tviberg.
Developed in cooperation with Vodafone Group R&D Germany and Atelier Nord, Oslo, Norway
Flooding: In cooperation with Kvik Film Productions; Fridthjofur Helgason: Camera