Prix Ars Electronica


ORF Oberösterreich

Jury Statement

Thomas Kessler

The most important event in this year's Prix Ars Electronica competition in Linz was - as we must state - that after a short one-year break entries for the Computer Music category were accepted again. Computer music is maybe not only the oldest of the computer arts, but also the one where the artists have been waiting for the machine and its results, and not the machine for a user. On the spiritual ground of the serial music of the 1950's, quite a few composers were searching for a suitable tool for computation and for rendering audible shape and sound structures never heard before, and they did so quite a while before such a machine was actually invented.

We owe it maybe to this one-year break that entries were so numerous. Some 350 works demanded the maximum of the five jury members' concentration. The members apologize for the fact that in the three days available the entries could not be as thoroughly evaluated as one might expect for a fair decision. As a result, several organizational proposals have been made to the organizers concerning the years to come. A considerable increase in entries by female composers was also noted. It seems easier for women to gain access to experimental electronics than to electronic entertainment, the latter seeming to be reserved for their male counterparts. What also increased was the number of entries from so-called Third World countries: a surprisingly high number from Brazil (compare, for instance, Switzerland. ..).

At last, after intense deliberations, the jury composed of the most different personalities with different backgrounds almost unanimously were able to agree on the award winners.

The jury was pleased to award the Golden Nica to the Argentinian composer living in London, Alejandro Vinao, whose composition "Chant d'Ailleurs" embodied a unique marriage between artistic and technical brilliance. This overtly beautiful work features a human soprano singing with Mongolian and European baroque vibrato techniques, juxtaposed with computer-generated vocal-like sounds which subtly interact with the human original.

The jury also awarded two Distinctions. Francis Dhomont, an elder statesman of electroacoustic music who was born in Paris hut resides in Montreal, was honored for his "Chiaroscuro", in which everyday ambiant sounds are mixed with musical effects m a striking non-linear narrative.

The Austrian improviser Wolfgang Mitterer was singled out for his sensational improvised work "Reluctant Games" in which the free improvisation mode was merged with the most energetic aspects of computer music abstraction.

Many interesting works could not he considered and all the composers ought to be mentioned whose work contributed to the overall increase in the quality of entries. We are certainly excited at the prospects of next year.

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