Art, technology and society – Ars Electronica wants to bring it all together and show the effects. In 2021, the festival took place from September 8 to 12 under the slogan “A New Digital Deal”.
What’s missing: In the fast-paced world of tech, it’s often time to rearrange the many news and backgrounds. On weekends, we want to take it, to follow the sidewalks sheltered from the current, to try different perspectives and to express nuances.
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At the opening, Gerfried Stocker, longtime artistic director of the festival, deepened the motto: A New Digital Deal. It’s about finding procedures and rules that we can get or keep under control about how we live together digitally and whether the internet will contribute to a more just world. Exactly what “us” he means and what the other side would be like, we would have liked to know, because the festival partners largely cover Austrian society and the European institutions are also well represented. But of course, an opening ceremony is not the place for such deep deliberation.
Media art in times of pandemic
Giving insight into the state of the art media – this is the aim of the festival and it is regularly redeemed. The so-called thematic exhibition is hosted at Johannes Kepler University (JKU) and is fed by submissions to the Ars Electronica Prize, the European STARTS competition and exhibitions from cooperation partners.
For the first time, the visitor is able to fully understand the works. Usually, one is overwhelmed by the abundance and diversity of the offer and leaves the field with the certainty that many important things and perhaps even the best have been overlooked. But Corona changed the format of the event. JKU is just one of 86 gardens in the world. The ‘garden format’ was invented last year when the program in Linz was reduced to a minimum due to the pandemic. What was once in a hurry in the halls, corridors and basements of the disused mail distribution center is now distributed around the world. A remarkable response to the evolving situation and we look forward to seeing what will be left of it after the pandemic.
The selection is worth the detour. Many exhibitions manage to combine with humor current subjects, new technologies and aesthetic approaches. Typical for example “How to Strand Astronauts on the Moon” by Halsey Burgund (United States) and Francesca Panetta (United Kingdom): we see Richard Nixon’s televised speech, which he never gave, just in case the moon astronauts would not return. The wording of the speech prepared at the time is returned to the mouth of the president of the time by means of a deep scythe. The visitor sees the speech on an old tube television with the picture and sound quality of the time and sits in the typical 1960s cocktail chairs. Whether media, conspiracy theories , criticism of technology, whatever the angle from which one approaches, the visitor can immerse himself in the most varied angles of association.
Or “Made to Measure – I is a Search Engine” by Laokoon, a label under which Hans Block (DE), Moritz Riesewieck (DE) and Cosima Terrasse (FR) are dedicated to artistic and cross-media projects on the digital and the society . Here, a well-known subject is covered, namely what Internet companies know about us. But the educational index isn’t lifted to educate the helpless user on how the evil data octopus is plundering him. Instead, a captivating and highly informative experience is achieved. Laocoon takes a specific person, a woman, and tries to recreate that person’s life with an actress. You can see how more and more specific personality traits are revealed and how the actress penetrates deeper and deeper into the role. If the observer does not follow the action on the big screen, but on the screens of the gallery, he interacts with the software and notices how it in turn observes him.
The winning works of art in the competition can be found, as always, in the “OK”, the open cultural center in the commercial area of Linz. The winners of the different competition categories are displayed here. In the meantime, half of the categories are presented every two years, a restriction due to the sharp increase in the number of entries as well as the expansion of the award categories themselves. This year, the “Computer Animation”, “Artificial Intelligence & Life Art” and “Digital Musics & Sound Art” categories. There is also the annual STARTS (Science + Technology + Arts) competition, an initiative of the European Union with a prize of 2 x 20,000 euros.
Focus on the content
It should be noted that the main Twitter hashtags such as gender, racism, trans or climate are strongly represented. It stays open here.
Animation, like digital music, is one of the oldest categories. Gone are the days when unknown visual experiences could be admired through technical innovations, as CGI productions have become obvious in Hollywood. In this regard, content comes to the fore. The film “When the Sea Sends a Forest” by Guangli Liu (CN) received the Golden Nica. It deals with the Chinese in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge era. It is a forgotten fate, because they were brutally persecuted and killed, surprisingly, because Mao’s China also called itself a communist. There are hardly any picture recordings, so Liu managed to integrate the few cinematic documents with propaganda films into a computer game animation. The narrator tells in the first person the fate of a family in the turmoil of this time.
Bulgarian Veneta Androva also uses computer game technology in her work “AIVA”. She talks about the painter AIVA, a robot with “artificial female intelligence” whose works of art generate high income for the gallery owner who created them. The created figure caricatures the cliché of the male artistic genius. She lets her muse, a naked man of course, pose until she is gripped by the inspiration as the penis has struggled so powerfully against gravity in the pear tree. Well the result is a bunch of chalkboard-like cock images. The whole thing makes the viewer smile endlessly, especially whether it is the narrative voice in the typical intonation of a female museum guide and the whirlwind of “International Art English” which enters one ear as well as leaves the ear. ‘other.
It can’t be described as “OPERA” by Erick Oh (US), a visually stunning opus, which illustrates the entire world and the course of this world and its inhabitants in one moving image. You don’t want to come off even after the third time around, you would find out more details the fourth or fifth time that reveal power, religion, class, racism, war and terror.
Disclaimer: This article is generated from the feed and is not edited by our team.