Ars Electronica 2001
Festival-Website 2001
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Festival 1979-2007


onScreen (digital:video:art&design)

'Joachim Smetschka Joachim Smetschka

The series of exhibits at the new Ars Electronica Gallery for Digital Video Art & Design presents the latest developments in the field of visual media: computer-based video art, screen design, graphics and animation.

In the wake of rapid developments in video hardware and software over recent years, gaining access to the world of high-quality digital video production and processing has become considerably easier, and not just for artists. Today, any well-equipped PC is capable of processing digital video in practically loss-free quality and turning out end products in tolerable rendering times. Thus, users can go as far as their technical and creative capabilities take them, and are limited only by the formats and norms prescribed by the video industry and not, as was the case just a few years ago, by the difficulty of accessing expensive studios and equipment way out of a typical consumer’s price range.

These developments form the basis for the emergence of a new type of production environment: ideas are implemented quicker and job processes are considerably simplified by reduced organizational efforts. These factors and the relatively limited financial risk involved have made production on an everyday basis more hassle-free than ever. The results are experimental video clips, music videos, works of graphic and 3-D animation, jingles and commercials—that is, the entire spectrum of video and motion picture segments in the so-called new media.

The producers, graphics experts, designers and artists come from a wide variety of backgrounds: photography, traditional graphics, advertising, music and various different currents and fields of art.

Due to the indispensable interplay of picture and sound and the important similarities to the working circumstances, approaches and methods of new electronic music, an intensely close relationship now exists between these two fields. Such forms of synergy in production processes and end products give rise to enormous creative potential. In light of this, the concept of onScreen focuses on joint presentations with Ars Electronica Quarter events at which international protagonists from the contemporary electronic music scene are presented four times a year.

The task of onScreen Gallery is to comb this terrain in search of new currents and ideas beyond the purview of conventional artistic clichés in order to offer those producing them a public platform which not only displays and provides access to these works but also constitutes a sort of knowledge-base and forum for the discussion of specific issues. The chief criterion used in selecting the works to be shown is the direct link to the medium —digital processing and an intensive encounter with the described material. And room will also be made for projects that are still works-in-progress or were developed as design studies and experiments. This undertaking is meant to juxtapose to the high-end awards like the Prix Ars Electronica an additional level, one that indeed does not conceive of itself as a low-level entry but rather deals with the creative work of artists and designers in a way that is true to actual practice.

A key component of the gallery—along with the permanent exhibit in the lobby of the Ars Electronica Center—is a video-on-demand archive in the Internet. At www.aec.at/onscreen, users can access the videos and video stills as well as information about the works and their producers.

The gallery opened on June 22, 2001. The basic setup consists of non-stop videos running on two plasma screens which, during hours when the museum is closed, can be swiveled to face the sidewalk so that passers-by can view the program and the public realm is thus integrated into the gallery, as well as a website featuring basic information and eight videos from the first presentation entitled onScreen01. The development of the gallery and the website will be flexible in order to accommodate adjustment to the extent and the nature of the works presented.