2018 Ars Electronica Festival

POSTCITY Linz, September 6th-10th, 2018

Ars Electronica is one of the world’s premiere showcases for media art; it’s a digital music festival, a trade fair for creativity and innovation, a discussion forum, a platform for networking, and a playground for the next generation. Ars Electronica is an internationally unique festival at the interface of art, technology and society.

The Spirit. Ars Electronica is a meeting place of communities that tend to be a bit insular. They convene here to participate in a process of exchange that draws inspiration from domains beyond the boundaries of individual disciplines, genres, sectors, cultures and countries, that opens up alternative points of view and raises new questions, that forges out-of-the-ordinary alliances and brings forth alternative future strategies. That all of this takes place neither in closed circles not in the temples of art and science but rather in the public sphere and amongst the general public—in parks and city squares, in shops and malls, in churches and harbor docks, on roofs, underground garages and cellars, and even in fallout shelters—is what endows Ars Electronica with its extraordinary spirit.


The Experiment. Every Ars Electronica is different. Its components are constantly evolving. A big reason for this is that each annual festival is dedicated to a specific theme. And because, every year, there are new and unusual locations and a lineup of events custom-tailored to these settings. Because, in addition to the established formats, experiments with open outcomes are repeatedly being tried. Every Ars Electronica is one-of-a-kind because the festival always intentionally puts itself to the test and examines its own role. Thema ERROR – the Art of Imperfection is the 2018 Ars Electronica theme. There are individual focal points on each of the festival’s five days.

Impressions of POSTCITY

Day 1: Innovation. And the Festival Opening.

On Thursday, September 6, 2018 Innovation occupies the center of attention. For businesspeople in Upper Austria, there’s a forum—planned as an annual event—dealing with the innovation potential of errors, and constructive ways to deal with them. Keynote speakers at the GET INSPIRED Symposium Keynote speakers at the GET INSPIRED Symposium include Sophie Lamparter (Associate Director, swissnex San Francisco) and Robert Bauer (Department of Innovation Research, University of Linz); appearing at the GET INSPIRED Presentations are Lindsay Saunders (Chief Innovation Officer, Mozilla), Hermann Erlach (COO & Digital Transformation Lead Microsoft Österreich), Maya Pindeus (Co-Founder, CEO Humanising Autonomy) and Alexander Mankowsky (Future Studies & Ideation, Daimler AG). This inspiring conclave is produced under the aegis of the Upper Austrian Economic Chamber. Innovative also describes the strategies that Japanese telecommunications giant NTT and the Ars Electronica Futurelab are deploying to turn public viewings into extraordinary experiences. The principals will present initial results and prototypes that utilize swarm intelligence, interactivity and robotic organisms to conjure up a new kind of public viewing experience. The Future Innovators Summit (FIS) is a creative think-tank developed by Ars Electronica Futurelab and Hakuhoda, bringing together artists, scientists, designers, established players and young entrepreneurs, technicians and activists. As always, the Opening festivities highlight the first evening of the festival. POSTCITY’s spacious halls, corridors and ramps provide diversified settings for performances, DJ sets and concerts running way into the early morning – like Martin Messier, Marco Donnarumma, Chicks on Speed and many more.


On Friday, September 7th, 2018, the festival theme takes center stage. Speakers at the ERROR Symposium include such renowned experts as Thomas Macho (Director of the IFK–International Research Center for Cultural Studies, University of Art and Design Linz), Meredith Broussard (Assistant Professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute) and Ernst Hafen (Professor at the Institute of Molecular Systems Biology, ETH–Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich). The wide-ranging catacombs of POSTCITY will provide a suitable exhibition venue for international artists’ provocative, ironic and poetic takes on ERROR and The Art of Imperfection. Friday is also STARTS Day featuring a full program of inspiring talks about innovation at the nexus of science, technology and the arts, and an extensive exhibition of prizewinning best-practice projects elaborating promising strategies for interaction among the worlds of art and industry. This year’s STARTS Prize recipients will be on hand: Gijs van der Velden & Joris Laarman (NL; Amsterdam’s 3-D Printed Steel Bridge) and Giulia Tomasello (IT; Future Flora). STARTS Day is produced in cooperation with the European Commission.

Day 3: Art. CREATE YOUR WORLD. And a Challenge.

Saturday, September 8th, 2018 is all about media art. The CyberArts Exhibition The CyberArts Exhibition at the OK Center for Contemporary Art showcases the year’s best works of media art and the Prix Forums offer opportunities for up-close-and-personal encounters with many of the artists singled out for recognition by the Prix Ars Electronica in 2018: Boris Labbé, Mathilde Lavenne, Mary Flanagan, Kohei Ogawa, LarbitsSisters, Farah Salka, Bess Lee & Chihhao Yu and Eliot Higgins. Leonardo, one of the oldest and most respected platforms for art, technology and society, has been honored with a Golden Nica this year. The Network for Art, Technology and Science is turning 50 this year – reason enough for Ars Electronica to hold a Birthday Party as part of the festival! “Hidden Alliances,” an exhibition by Elisabeth Schimana (AT) at the LENTOS Art Museum, treats the influence exerted by artists on the development of electronic music in the past and present. The musician and composer is this year’s Ars Electronica Featured Artist; her show features portraits of 10 pioneering women in the history of media art, their trailblazing art projects and their respective networks. What challenges confront a gallery specializing in media art; what’s the current trend in that market; and what’s it like to work amidst the tension and interplay between art and commerce? In Gallery Spaces in the catacombs of POSTCITY, various protagonists will go into exhibiting and collecting media art, the difficulties inherent in those activities, and their future potential. Supplementing these presentations will be Art Talks at the Media Art Market Symposium in the OK. Surprising perspectives and unexpected brainstorms are the upshots of Himatsubushi. Festivalgoers can practice this playful, inspiring waste of time on the spacious roof of POSTCITY amongst all sorts of prototypes and works of art.

While the international media art scene is meeting & greeting at the OK, the LENTOS and Gallery Spaces, the CREATE YOUR WORLD village in POSTCITY welcomes families who’d like to attend the festival together. The young and young-at-heart can have educational fun playing, building, tinkering, drawing, filming, doing photography and programming. Giving free rein to your imagination isn’t merely permitted; you’re positively encouraged to get active and bring your ideas to fruition! And for all those who need an energy boost during all these endeavors, there’s an Organic Farmers’ Market right next door proffering tasty treats provided by sustainable, regional producers. And once the lunch break is over, it’s time for a matinee the likes of which you’ve never experienced before: volunteer fire departments from throughout Upper Austria will gather in POSTCITY and face off in a thrilling Emergency Error Battle!

Day 4: Science. And a Truly Big Concert Night.

Sunday, September 9th, 2018: The focus is on the intersection of art and science. Best-practice examples from throughout the world will be on display at Ars Electronica Campus, where 14 universities will showcase and discuss outstanding works by their faculty members and students. At the head of the class is Hexagram, North America’s largest network for research and creation in media art, design, technology and digital culture—this huge show has been curated by two Montreal institutions, Concordia University and the Université du Québec; other exhibitors are the Academy of Fine Arts Prague (CZ), University College London (GB), Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing (CN), Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (DK), University of Tsukuba (JP), King’s College London (GB), University of the Arts London (GB), Roy Ascott Studio, Shanghai (CN), Queen Mary University of London (GB), the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (US) and Shantou University (CN). The BR41N.IO Hackathon under the auspices of g.tec neurotechnology is another exercise in art and science. Participants will put on their thinking caps to consider brain-computer interfaces and how they’ll be used in the future. The engineers, programmers, designers and artists assembled in POSTCITY have 24 hours to design and build a BCI headset that can measure brain activity in real time in order to carry out some form of interaction. The Academy of Error follows up on the ERROR Conference on Friday; the subject is the act of erring, considered this time from a personal point of view. Experts in science, technology and industry will leave their most brilliant achievements out of consideration and instead discuss their most productive blunders and the projects and ideas they spun off. The speakers include Michael Doser (Physics Department, CERN) and Hiroshi Ishii (Jerome B. Wiesner Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab).

An extraordinarily exciting evening program is on tap! Ars Electronica and Markus Poschner (AT), chief conductor of the Bruckner Orchestra, cordially invite you to attend the Big Concert Night in the Gleishalle at POSTCITY. Leading off the lineup is Hector Berlioz’ “Symphonie fantastique,” the musical account of a passionate episode in the artist’s life, and a work with a correspondingly ecstatic dramaturgy. Electric Indigo opens the second part of the evening with the Austrian premiere of their latest album, 5 1 1 1 5 9 3, a quadraphonic journey in sound particles and sparse, powerful rhythms. Then, featured artist Elisabeth Schimana will casts an acoustic glimpse into the past. Her performance will be followed by a brilliant duet by Dutch sound poet Jaap Blonk and Austrian sound artist Josef Klammer. Finally, Ursula Neugebauer brings one of her kinetic sculptures to life and stages an enchanting dance. In short: Whoever has experienced a Big Concert Night is hooked for life; and anyone who’s never attended one should remedy that situation ASAP!

Day 5: Music Only. And One Last Highlight.

Monday, September 10, 2018, is Music Monday. As always, the last day of Ars Electronica is dedicated to music. Festivalgoers can look forward to a parcours of countless sound installations arrayed in and among the festival venues, and interspersed with talks, presentations, performances and concerts. The evening highlight is a concert by Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies in Gleishalle. Part 1 is a world premiere—Maki Namekawa’s performance of the piano version of Philip Glass’ “Mishima.” In Part 2, Maki Namekawa will be joined by Dennis Russell Davies, her husband, fellow pianist and playing partner of many years, to conclude the 2018 Ars Electronica Festival with “Piano Music Meets Digital Images.”

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