C … what it takes to change

Knowledge, creativity, ideas: the raw materials of the future. Yeah, OK, granted! This undeniable insight has been making the rounds for quite a while now, and opinion leaders in politics and business are only too eager to hop on the bandwagon. Everyone’s for creativity, everybody calls for a better trained staff, and all want to profit from new ideas. So far, so good! But who’s prepared to contribute to this? Who understands that these raw materials don’t have to be depleted, they have to be maximized; that they can’t be harvested, they can only be invested? Only when we grasp the workings of the ecosystem of creativity and innovation, when we respect it and provide it with sufficient nourishment, only then can we hope to profit from it.

Creativity and innovation don’t just appear out of the blue, and they resist being conjured up, no matter how clever the design thinking and strategic innovation management methods implemented to bring them forth. Interdisciplinarity can’t mean that lots of people share the same pie and everybody gets a slice; rather, that together they bake a cake into which everyone has input a piece. Common knowledge? Of course it is! But then again, maybe you need to spend some time chatting with CEOs, R&D execs, marketing directors, cultural managers and policymakers.

So then, what is this going to take and what do we have to do? What’s actually more important: trying some new approaches or heading off in a completely new direction? Open spaces, settings for encounter and exchange, surprises and inspirations, the experience of making, designing and developing things on one’s own, the courage to fail, the fun of sharing one’s own ideas with others. Artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, leading-edge thinkers, imitators and tweakers, mavericks and team players, malcontents and co-conspirators, tinkerers and dreamers, all of us …

… or is it just an illusion to even think we can change the shape of things to come? The C in the title of Ars Electronica 2014 stands for confidence and for the craving for change, but also for creativity, for collaboration and for catalysts. When the aim is to initiate a chemical reaction, energy has to be added to the equation. But sometimes that’s not enough and what’s additionally called for is a catalyst, a material that makes it easier for the elements that are supposed to interact to engage one another and launch something new. To put this in concrete terms: a catalyst reduces the amount of free energy necessary for a reaction to occur without itself being consumed in the process.

And come to think of it, isn’t this a terrific description of the impact that art can bring to bear on social transformation and renewal projects? Artists as catalysts—a concept that’s worth considering more thoroughly.

Photo: Stadtplanung Linz, Heimo Pertlwieser

The Ars Electronica Festival Takes It to the Streets

A quintessential element of Ars Electronica since its very inception has been the Festival’s venues: a major part of each year’s lineup of events takes place at outdoor locations in the streets, squares and parks of downtown Linz. In carrying on this tradition, everything will be tweaked once again this year, as the festival proceedings take leave of the conventional settings of art and culture and boldly go forth into urban situations. This is a festival in motion, in search of new ways into the future. This year’s itinerary includes—in addition to classic festival venues such as the Main square of Linz, the OK, the Art University, the Brucknerhaus and the Ars Electronica Center itself—the Arkade [mall], Sparkassengeviert [bank atrium], Akademisches Gymnasium [high school], the courtyard and garden of the Bishop’s residence, the plaza in front of the cathedral. A Festival City extending from the Promenade to Bischofstrasse and from Landstraße to Herrenstraße. Over five days, the festival will be played out within these coordinates.

Here and there, the adjustments will be rather subtle so that only locals will know whether, for example, a tailor shop offering alterations is really a craftsman’s atelier or a staged manifestation of some aspect of the festival theme. In other instances, it’ll be pretty obvious that these are the doings of artists invited by Ars Electronica to adorn various shops and display cases, lobbies, pub gardens, courtyards, classrooms, gyms, workshops, underground garages, streets and squares with their objects, installations and sounds to thereby configure, influence and transform them—sometimes with tongue in cheek and irony; at other times dead serious and thought-provoking. All in all, Ars Electronica will be hazarding a fascinating experiment this year. But isn’t that exactly what a festival has to do when it makes change its theme? The mission: display the courage to make some changes to itself, and put itself to the test. Come with us and join our get-acquainted stroll around Festival City on our Ars Electronica Blog.

Festival Ars Electronica

Each year’s Ars Electronica Festival program features a colorful palette of event formats and offerings. The spectrum ranges from conferences and speeches to exhibitions, concerts, performances and interventions. The settings of these artistic-scientific explorations are various cultural institutions and art venues as well as public spaces throughout the City of Linz. You can get an impression of the festival lineup by visiting the Ars Electronica 2013 festival website. To view lots of vibrant images, click here.


Orchestral music and digital sounds, on one hand; live electronics and visualizations on the other — since 2002, these have limned the program of the Ars Electronica Festival’s Big Concert Night produced jointly with the Brucknerhaus and the Bruckner Orchester. Pursuant to its traditional commitment to electronic music, Ars Electronica dedicates a full program to this genre of such tremendous importance to media art. Ars Electronica Music Day staged in and around the Brucknerhaus is a platform for sound art, radio art, sound sculptures and sound installations. The concert halls and Linz’s riverside Donaupark become sound & action spaces for listening sessions, performances, speeches and conversations. Photos of the Big Concert Night 2013 and of the Ars Electronica Music Day 2013 can be found on flickr.


The CyberArts exhibition in the OK Center for Contemporary Art is one of the festival highlights each year. The works featured here were all submitted for prize consideration to the latest Prix Ars Electronica, the world-renowned media arts competition and showcase of excellence in digital creativity. At the theme exhibition in the Festival City, in Linz’s inner city, visitors encounter a diversified array of artistic takes on the festival’s theme. Photos of last year’s CyberArts Exhibition can be found here.


The centerpiece of this year’s conference program at Ars Electronica is the symposium focusing on the theme: “C … what it takes to change.” The sessions will be held in the Festival-City. Thus, during the festival, severals buildings in Linz’s inner city will serve as a venue for communication and encounter by and with an extraordinary lineup of scientists and artists. At the Future Innovators Summit, experienced professionals as well as young entrepreneurs and social activists, technicians and scientists and, of course, artists and designers will meet each other at the Ars Electronica Festival for mutual inspiration and for the exchange of ideas and know-how. Photos of last year’s symposia can be found here.

Deep Space

Deep Space delivers incomparable spectacles—nowhere else on Earth can you experience photographic images, films, animation sequences and 3D applications at such high resolution in these dimensions. A total of eight 1080p HD and Active Stereo-capable Barco Galaxy NH12 projectors let you enjoy crystal-clear, 16×9-meter images displayed on the Deep Space’s wall and floor. The ideal location of concerts, performances and presentations. Take a look at what the Deep Space has to offer. Photos can be found here.


The Ars Electronica Animation Festival screens a selection of the most outstanding animated works honored by the Prix Ars Electronica jury in recognition of their substantive and stylistic quality. This lineup impressively gets across how the genre itself has flourished of late and the extent to which it now pervades our everyday life. Once again this year, the 2014 Ars Electronica Festival lineup will include a digital animation symposium staged jointly with the Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences’ Hagenberg Campus. Photos surrounding the Ars Electronica Animation Festival 2013 can be found here.

u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD Future Festival of the Next Generation

The u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD Future Festival of the Next Generation is a setting for young people under age 19 to generate and exchange ideas, solutions to problems, concepts and experiments for the future. In a colorful festival village set up at Spittelwiese, one of the streets of the Festival-City, young artists, programmers and tinkerers can demonstrate how they see the world of tomorrow. Thus, young people aren’t just members of the audience; they’re co-producers of the Festival. Images from last year can be found here.

Gerfried Stocker (AT)

Gerfried Stocker is a media artist and telecommunications engineer. In 1991, he founded x-space, a team formed to carry out interdisciplinary projects, which went on to produce numerous installations and performances featuring elements of interaction, robotics and telecommunications. Since 1995, Gerfried Stocker has been artistic director of Ars Electronica. In 1995-96, he headed the crew of artists and technicians that developed the Ars Electronica Center’s pioneering new exhibition strategies and set up the facility’s in-house R&D department, the Ars Electronica Futurelab. He has been chiefly responsible for conceiving and implementing the series of international exhibitions that Ars Electronica has staged since 2004, and, beginning in 2005, for the planning and thematic repositioning of the new, expanded Ars Electronica Center.

Christine Schöpf (AT)

Since 1979, Christine Schöpf has been a driving force behind Ars Electronica’s development. Between 1987 and 2003, she played a key role in conceiving and organizing the Prix Ars Electronica. Since 1996, she and Gerfried Stocker have shared responsibility for the artistic direction of the Ars Electronica Festival. Christine Schöpf studied German & Romance languages and literature and then worked as a radio and TV journalist. From 1981 to 2008, she was in charge of cultural and scientific reporting at the ORF – Austrian Broadcasting Company’s Upper Austria Regional Studio. In 2009, Linz Art University bestowed the title of honorary professor on Christine Schöpf.