Ars Electronica Blog

On our Ars Electronica Blog we supply you with background information about the Festival Ars Electronica. We will give you a taste of what you will expect in Linz from September 8 to 12, 2016. Read interviews with artists, curators, scientists, and get some inspiration around the theme that moves us this year: RADICAL ATOMS and the alchemists of our time.

The Recap

“RADICAL ATOMS and the alchemists of our time” was the theme of the Ars Electronica Festival staged September 8-12, 2016 at multiple locations in Linz. The prime venue was, once again, POSTCITY, the former Austrian Postal Service logistics facility adjacent to the train station. It provided 80,000 m2 of exhibition space for conferences and speeches, exhibitions and projects, concerts and performances, animated films and awards ceremonies, guided tours and workshops. Here are some motifs conveying impressions of this year’s festival.

Day 5: One last day of festival fever

Even the most amazing festival has to come to a close at some point - the fifth and last day of Ars Electronica 2016 has visitors looking back on an incredible weekend. With the Music Monday Program, the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival comes to a musical end.

Day 4: Recap of Another Eventful Day

In only a few more hours, the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival goes down in history. In the meantime, let’s take a retrospective look at the highlights of Day 4—the Mini Maker Faire Linz, another interesting lineup of speeches and workshops, and, to wrap things up, the musical crescendo of the entire festival, the Big Concert Night.

Day 3: From Farmer’s Market to Drones Show

The third day of the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival continued with conferences and talks by international artists and scientists – but it also offered the opportunity to meet the winners of the Prix Ars Electronica personally. The POSTCITY welcomed the guests on that day with an organic farmers market. In the evening, Intel and Ars Electronica presented the European premiere of DRONE 100.

Scalar Fields – Each step has an Importance

“Scalar Fields” visualizes the pressure field around the soles of shoes. By using the fluid simulation software developed by the artist, the propagation of pressure in air is visualized in 8K video. During the Ars Electronica Festival 2016, the visualization can be seen as floor and wall projection at Deep Space 8K with a marvelous sound experience.

POSTCITY Linz: From Postal Service Logistics Center to Event Venue to Transit Camp

POSTCITY in Linz debuted as the Ars Electronica Festival venue in 2015, and the former Austrian Postal Service logistics facility is reprising its role as a setting for media art events this year. Between these two deployments, POSTCITY served as a transit camp for refugees. Paul Reinthaler, regional director of the Red Cross, gives an account of the challenges the past year posed.

That Was Day 2 of the Festival!

The second day of the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival was dominated by the annual symposia. But the Friday of each Ars Electronica Festival is also traditionally the day of the awards ceremonies of the Prix Ars Electronica. While the kids of the category u19 – Create Your World received their prizes already at noon, the adults became their Golden Nicas in the evening at a festive gala. What else has been going on on Day 2 of the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival, you can read in this blog post.

“River of Knowledge” – Klangwolke 2016

The Klangwolke [Cloud of Sound] is an autumn highlight of Linz’s annual calendar of events. Conceived as a blend of music, performance, art and spectacle with a different theme each year, it’s been a crowd-pleaser ever since its launch in 1979. The 2016 edition is entitled “River of Knowledge.” We recently had a chance to talk about the upcoming event with producer Uwe Buhrdorf and Rica Blunck and Tilo Nest of the cast and crew.

Day 1: The festival has started!

The first day of the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival started with a lot of exhibition openings - from the Alchemists at POSTCITY to the CyberArts opening at OK Center for Contemporary Art, there was lots to see. In the evening, the grand Opening set the musical tone for the coming weekend.

The Finishing Touches

It’s already dark outside, but the light is still burning in the POSTCITY. All involved artists and the team of the Ars Electronica Festival are to complete their final preparations. Here are some impressions, a few hours before the first festival day.
Festival After Preparations

Festival Countdown: The Curtain Goes Up in 24 Hours

It’s less than 24 hours until the grand opening of the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival. Needless to say, the preparations are going full speed ahead. Here, we take one last tour before the exhibitions, conferences and performances begin on September 8, 2016.

Spaxels over Linz: Test Flight in Mühlviertel

Before the 100 Spaxels make their European public debut above the Danube on Saturday, September 10, 2016 just before the opening act of the Klangwolke, they’ll be subjected to a rigorous physical exam. The first two test flights already took place this week—the quadcopters lifted off from a secluded field in Mühlviertel, the rural area north of Linz, and put on quite a show (that not too many people got to see).

POSTCITY: The Countdown is On

There are less than 60 hours left until the opening of the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival! Just before the POSTCITY, the central location of the festival at the Linz main trainstation, will be transformed into a venue for large exhibitions, conferences and performances, we took a quick look in the imposing halls.

Linzers Look beyond Their Own Backyard: Cooking Events by and with Refugees

Immediately after last year's Ars Electronica Festival, the POSTCITY venue was converted into a transit camp for refugees. Since last September, over 50,000 men, women and children have spent a night in Linz during their flight. In remembrance of them, we’re adorning the premises with the same number of flowers, which festivalgoers can buy and take home in return for a donation. The proceeds will go to a local community named Über den Tellerrand [literally: beyond the edge of ones own plate]. To find out who they are, read on!

Working Together on Behalf of Refugees: The 2nd Helpers Conference in Linz

This is a conference organized by ZusammenHelfen in Oberösterreich (Helping Together in Upper Austria) to provide support to, show appreciation for and foster networking among the many volunteers working to aid refugees. Volunteer helpers will be gathering on September 10, 2016 at the Ars Electronica Festival. Nicole Sonnleitner of ZusammenHelfen in Oberösterreich told us more.

WE GUIDE YOU through the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival

Exhibitions, concerts, performances, events, workshops, film screenings and awards ceremonies—there’s a lot happening at the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival. But if you’re not so fluent in German or English, it can all get a bit daunting. That’s the reason for WE GUIDE YOU. Three types of guided tours provide insightful overviews in no fewer than 10 languages.

Sonic Saturday: Acoustic Virtual Worlds

September 10th is Sonic Saturday at the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival. Anton Bruckner Private University will stage an extensive electronic music program including concerts and speeches, and the Computer Music Studio is hosting an open house in its recently opened Sonic Lab featuring state-of-the-art audio technology and extraordinary acoustics.

Future Innovators Summit 2016: Creating Agendas for Tomorrow

Since its inception at the Ars Electronica Festival in 2014, The Future Innovators Summit (FIS) has grown and developed into a reputable frame and a new model for creative discussions about the future. This year is the culmination of 3 year’s experience and collaborative partnerships which has led to an expanded format and a significant increase of applicants for the open call.

Die Entscheidung: A Matter of Life or Death

“Die Entscheidung” (The Decision), a computer game about life-threatening cancer, greatly impressed this year’s Prix Ars Electronica jury and garnered the Golden Nica in the u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD category for 17-year-old Jonas Bodingbauer. At the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival he will not only receive the award in POSTCITY during the u19 ceremony – here you will also have the chance to chat personally with him about his computer game. For the blog, he told us about his game.

Second Story: Old Objects, New Stories

Aoife van Linden Tol takes printed objects that are endowed with emotions and gives them a new start. In her performance “Second Story,” she blows up old photos, passports, love letters, etc. in controlled explosions. Here, she tells us how her first test detonation went, what we can expect in her September performance, and how we can submit stuff to get blown to smithereens!

Campus Exhibition: Media Art from China

China’s history is awesome, full of tales and traditions passed down from time immemorial. How do students at Tsinghua University deal with this monumental cultural heritage when they approach it in terms of media art? In this interview, Prof. Wang of the Academy of Arts and Design tells us about his college. We also get a sneak preview of the Campus exhibition.

Black Hole Horizon: Sounds into Soap Bubbles

Thom Kubli’s work “Black Hole Horizon” turns sounds into three-dimensional objects. Big black horns emit deep tones that form soap bubbles. The work can be seen live at the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival. We recently had a chance to chat with the artist about his work.

100% Organic: The Farmers Market at the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival

Saturday is go-to-market day at the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival. A whole day long, festivalgoers in POSTCITY will be able to taste and purchase organic wares produced by regional farmers, all of them members of BIO AUSTRIA. We talked to Marlene Wolfsteiner of BIO AUSTRIA about the farmers market at the festival.

Politics meets Social Media: Participation in the Age of New Media

The emergence of Facebook, Twitter & Co. in recent years has opened up new options for the exchange of political views. How these digital platforms are changing the political discourse, what new forms of sociopolitical participation are resulting from them, and which challenges they confront us with will be discussed at “Participation & Political Socialization in the Age of New Media,” a conference being held in conjunction with the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival.

Around the World via Quadcopter

A spectacular Spaxels show will be the lead-in to the 2016 Klangwolke, Linz’s annual outdoor extravaganza. The DRONE 100 crew has already made a name for itself worldwide; now, the record-setting quadcopter formation of the Ars Electronica Futurelab and Intel™ Corporation is making its European debut. Here, Chris Bruckmayr and Andreas Jalsovec talk about some of the exotic airspaces they’ve flown through over the course of their Spaxels career.

DRONE 100 in Linz: A Behind-the-Scenes Look

This will be the first public appearance in Europe of the world’s largest autonomous drone swarm. Just before the Visualisierte Klangwolke in September 2016, the Ars Electronica Futurelab’s 100 Spaxels will display their aerial artistry in Linz. Here, Chris Bruckmayr and Andreas Jalsovec of the Spaxels crew talk about all the preparations and work that goes into such a performance.

CyberArts 2016: The Best of Media Art

One of the highlights of each year’s Ars Electronica Festival is always the CyberArts exhibition, a showcase of the works singled out for recognition by the Prix Ars Electronica, one of the most important awards honoring creativity and pioneering spirit in the digital media genre. Here, Genoveva Rückert, the curator of CyberArts 2016, tells us about this year’s show.

Presenting: The Alchemists of Our Time

The theme of the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival is RADICAL ATOMS – and the alchemists of our time. But who are these people, actually? In the theme exhibition, you’ll find out all about the artists, scientists, activists and entrepreneurs whose unorthodox approaches and inspiring projects are bound to make an impact on our future. In so-called Artist Labs, 12 of them are each presenting several of their works. Learn what awaits you here.

P2P Foundation: Concentrated Knowledge for All

Who has access to knowledge and information online? Who controls this exchange and who can profit from it? These issues of decisive importance to our digital future are the P2P Foundation’s bread and butter. In recognition of their committed work, the non-profit organization is this year’s recipient of the Golden Nica in the Prix Ars Electronica’s Digital Communities category.

A Festival Goes Green: A Visit to Linz City Gardens

The 2016 Ars Electronica Festival doesn’t kick off until September 8th but the preparations are already running at full speed. Not only does our in-house production crew have their hands full; our associates have been busy too. The staff of Linz City Gardens, for instance, has been cultivating thousands of flowers to adorn the festival’s prime venue. In our photo story, you can watch the plants grow … before beholding them in all their glory on site at Post City.

Post City, Pre-Festival: A Tour through Our Festival Location

The former Austrian Postal Service logistics center at Linz’s main train station is scheduled for demolition. But before it’s taken down, it will serve, one more time, as an extraordinary event location—Post City, the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival’s prime venue. Martin Honzik, director of the festival, recently took us on a little preview tour of the (still) vacant premises.

U19 – Create Your World: Youngsters Join the Curatorial Staff

The Prix Ars Electronica’s u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD category is an annual opportunity for young people to garner recognition for their creative projects with great future promise. And once again this year, the prizewinning works are being honored and exhibited at the Ars Electronica Festival September 8-12, 2016. The new wrinkle this year: the young participants themselves are determining what the exhibition looks like and how it works.

2016 STARTS Prize: Art as Catalyst

The first STARTS Prize competition was conducted by Ars Electronica on behalf of the European Commission this year. The mission: recognizing excellence at the nexus of science, technology and art. Here’s an overview of the winners as well as a few very interesting runners-up and nominees.

RADICAL ATOMS: When Visions Become Tangible

Prof. Hiroshi Ishii is the director of the MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group. His team’s mission is to envision new forms of human-machine interaction and to enable us to experience and grasp the ideas of tomorrow today. His vision of RADICAL ATOMS also inspired this year’s Ars Electronica Festival theme.

STARTS Prize to “Artificial Skins and Bones”

The Artificial Skins and Bones project seminar conducted by Prof. Mika Satomi and Prof. Wolf Jeschonnek is one of this year’s two recipients of a STARTS Prize awarded by the European Commission. Here’s a briefing on the Berlin Weißensee School of Art and work being done there.

Hello spies, can you hear me?

“Can you hear me?” was a temporary network that artists Christoph Wachter and Mathias Jud set up above the rooftops of the German government district in Berlin to downright force intelligence agencies to listen in on what they and thousands of other people were saying.

2016 Ars Electronica Festival at the PostCity

Mind the date: From September 8 to 12, 2016, the PostCity, the former former postal service’s letter & parcel distribution central railway station in Linz, again will be a central point of the Ars Electronica Festival.

Rhizome: Everything Is Interconnected

We zoom into a world that’s incessantly in motion, one in which everything is connected to everything else and the figures are constantly morphing. This animated film by Boris Labbé has been singled out for recognition with a Golden Nica by the 2016 Prix Ars Electronica.

RADICAL ATOMS: The Machine Becomes Material

In this interview with Gerfried Stocker, Ars Electronica’s artistic director elaborates on the theme of the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival and provides some impressive examples illustrating it. Here’s a preview of what awaits festivalgoers in September 2016 in Linz.

MAXON: “Creativity engenders visual trends”

MAXON, a Germany-based software developer, has been creating 3-D graphic tools since the mid-1980s. Cinema 4D is one of them. In association with Maxon, the Ars Electronica Animation Festival will showcase prizewinning works of computer animation in September 2016.

Why Linz was elected as UNESCO City of Media Arts

As the birthplace of Ars Electronica, Linz has been one of the world’s trailblazers at the interface of emerging technology, art and society for decades now. On December 1, 2014, UNESCO recognized these pioneering achievements by bestowing a great honor on Upper Austria’s capital: induction into the Creative Cities Network.

Quadrature: “We feel a bit like explorers ourselves”

And indeed, their concept was a great discovery for the jurors too. Under the aegis of the European Digital Art & Science Network, an artists’ collective named Quadrature will spend several weeks at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile and then at the Ars Electronica Futurelab, and present the results of their work at the 2016 Ars Electronica Festival.

The Essential Challenge of Interactive Art

What does interactive actually mean? We touch something and then experience the upshot of that act? Or does interactivity already come about when we view an image? Victoria Vesna, a 2016 Prix Ars Electronica juror, talked to us about defining interactive art, and elaborated on something she learned about it from media artist Roy Ascott.

Networking, do it the right way

By the time we set up our own Facebook account—by then, at the very latest—many of us are very much aware of the advantages and disadvantages inherent in our digital coexistence. Marleen Stikker founded her first Digital City all the way back in 1994. Now she’s one of the five Prix Ars Electronica jurors who are evaluating this year’s entries in the Digital Communities category.

“Animation is like cooking”

You need to know how to balance the flavours. Mari-Liis Rebane, a juror in the 2016 Prix Ars Electronica’s Computer Animation / Film / VFX category, recently talked to us about the ingredients that go into an animated film that makes for tasty viewing.

“Nurture contrarians rather than mainstream thinking”

March 13, 2016 is the deadline for entries to Ars Electronica’s search conducted under the auspices of the European Commission for innovative projects at the nexus of science, technology and art. Alexander Mankowsky, a futurist on the staff of Daimler AG and a STARTS juror, recently talked to us about the trailblazing role of art and the framework conditions for an innovative Europe.

A Large Window to the Unknown

Night after night, the European Southern Observatory’s huge telescopes in Chile peer deeply into the unknown expanses of the universe. Fernando Comerón, the ESO’s on-site chief-of-staff, recently talked to us about possible ways in which art and science can engage in mutual inspiration at these locations and what this postulated ninth planet in our solar system is all about.

Karl Markovics: “I’m looking forward to being pleasantly surprised once again”

Actor, director and screenwriter Karl Markovics will soon be reprising his role as juror in the Prix Ars Electronica’s u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD category. In this interview, he talks about new media as well as kids and young people in 2016.

Prix Ars Electronica: The 2016 Juries

Who selects the recipients of the Golden Nicas to be awarded by the Prix Ars Electronica in 2016? We hereby present the jurors who’ll be convening in Linz just a few weeks from now to deliberate on these matters.

STARTS Prize: New Prospects Are Emerging

Two €20,000 prizes honoring innovative projects at the nexus of science, technology and art! What’s this very generously endowed competition all about, and what’s the European Commission’s take on the increasing digitization of our world? We recently had a chance to chat with the initiator of the STARTS program, Ralph Dum.

CERN: Exploring the Language of Science

In autumn 2015, the English artist duo Semiconductor started a two-month residency at CERN. Here, they are providing us a visual progress report of their research at the world’s largest particle physics research facility in Geneva.

Best of Ars Electronica Festival 2015

POST CITY – Habitats for the 21st Century. 92,000 visits, 482 individual events featuring 946 artists, scientists, activists and other protagonists from 42 countries. This retrospective look at the 2015 Ars Electronica Festival is an amazing sight to behold.

Semiconductor wins Collide@CERN Ars Electronica Award

The English artist duo, Semiconductor, will begin a two-month residency at CERN. Then their next stop is Linz, where they will spend a month at the Ars Electronica Futurelab.