History

Launched in September 1979, Ars Electronica rapidly achieved a level of success that attracted worldwide attention. ART, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY remain the philosophy of this platform. Its specific orientation and long-term continuity make it internationally unique.

1979 / ARS ELECTRONICA FESTIVAL

It all began in September 1979 when the very first ARS ELECTRONICA was staged. Initially a biennial event, the FESTIVAL has been held annually since 1986 and each one has focused on a specific, timely theme. In this growth phase, two factors were key determinants of the FESTIVAL’s subsequent development: on one hand, establishing a solid regional basis by producing large-scale open-air projects like the annual Klangwolke in Linz’s downtown riverside park and the Stahloper on the Main Square; on the other hand, establishing an international profile by collaborating with world-renowned artists, scientists, and experts—for instance, by hosting the first Sky Art Conference held outside the USA. Read more

1987 / PRIX ARS ELECTRONICA

The international notoriety that Ars Electronica garnered as the first conclave of its kind was taken to the next level in 1987 with the premiere of the PRIX ARS ELECTRONICA, a yearly competition in several categories that received submissions from around the world and quickly made a name for itself as the trend barometer in the global media art scene. Read more

1996 / ARS ELECTRONICA CENTER & ARS ELECTRONICA FUTURELAB

The next milestone was reached in 1996 with the opening of the first ARS ELECTRONICA CENTER, a year-round platform for presentation and production. The facility soon became an integral part of Linz’s urban cultural landscape and its bold modern architecture a highlight of the downtown cityscape. Accompanying the debut of the Museum of the Future was the setup of the ARS ELECTRONICA FUTURELAB, a prototype media art lab that was originally conceived to produce infrastructure and content for the CENTER and FESTIVAL but has become increasingly active in joint ventures with leading universities and private sector R&D facilities. Read more

2009 / ARS ELECTRONICA CENTER new

The latest chapter in the history of Ars Electronica opened in 2009. During the lead-in to Linz’s year-long stint as European Capital of Culture, the CENTER was architecturally enhanced and reoriented with respect to both content and presentation. In going about this, the principle of interaction was expanded into comprehensive participation. In designing exhibits and getting material across, the accent is placed on the shared presence of artistic and scientific pursuits. The substantive focus is on the life sciences. Read more

FOUR DIVISIONS

Ars Electronica’s four elements—the FESTIVAL, the PRIX, the CENTER and the FUTURELAB—provide it with a well-balanced structure that is conducive to its international orientation while still enabling it to meet the needs of the local community. Thus, more than any other institution, Ars Electronica represents a comprehensive approach to confronting techno-cultural phenomena.