Liquid Views 1992


Monika Fleischmann, Wolfgang Strauss

A horizontal screen displays the shimmering surface of a body of water. The sounds made by the water are audible. Coming closer, the observer sees his image reflected in the water. Touching the sensitive screen with ones finger produces waves and causes the image to dissolve. The harder one presses, the more the image disintegrates. When the waves subside, the virtual image appears intact again. Artificial nature is brought to life by artificial intelligence.

At the same time, the surface of the water can be seen to be a large-scale projection. As if through a magnifying glass, the observer sees himself there as an observer of himself. His virtually reflected countenance looks out from there into the space. Thus, the introverted glance beholding ones self seemingly becomes a glance at the Other. At the same time, the intimate act of observation becomes an act of putting an image on public display.

The interactive installation depicts Ovid’s parable of Narcissus as an act of reflection of and on oneself, and translates this into a visual and intellectual process of reflection about image and likeness. Digital virtuality and physical presence blend into a mixed reality experience.

Liquid Views summons up the metaphor of water as mirror in which the observer sees himself confronted by himself, and in which the digital universe is reflected. The interface as such is not consciously perceived. The real situation is sensorially interlinked with the virtual one. The real image of the observer in the fictitious image of the water surface accentuates the duality of our observation of the world and of our self as the basis of our construction of reality.

“Liquid Views” (the 1992-93 version with Christian Bohn) was on exhibit over the course of six years (with three processor replacements) at more than 50 different cultural venues. It brought out the cultural differences among the protagonists. The installation was part of the exhibition staged for the opening of the media museum at the ZKM–Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe in 1997. Since 2008, the reproduced work is being exhibited again.


Life Writer

Christa Sommerer, Laurent Mignonneau

“LIFE WRITER” is an interactive typewriter that produces artificial life. The input text functions like genetic code and translates into visual creatures that follow their own internal rules of metabolization and reproduction.

The artificial life forms appear on the real paper of the typewriter as if emerging directly from the machine. The creatures run around frantically, trying to find text to eat. When users type some more letters, the creatures quickly snap it up. Once they have eaten enough text, they reproduce and fill the whole page.

The whole process of writing text through “LIFE WRITER” becomes a process of giving life to thoughts and having the thoughts evolve, escape and reconfigure.

“LIFE WRITER” applies new technologies to sculptural form. Art becomes fused with “artificial life” forms and begins to evolve towards a “living” art form.

Sommerer and Mignonneau’s artwork raises fundamental questions about human interaction with increasingly “intelligent” machines and possible levels of human-machine symbiosis.

Max Brand Synthesizer 1957


The first wiring diagrams for the Max Brand synthesizer by Bob Moog are dated 1957. Over more than 10 years, Moog, then a young engineer, built this unique apparatus on the basis of Max Brand’s ideas. The sole traces left by the composer are in the interface design: two keyboards, 2 band-manuals and four foot pedals! The core components are the two frequency dividers, each with 20 sub-frequencies and a adjustable matrix of 3 blocks, each with 4 x 20 sub-harmonic modules including the first voltage-controlled modules Moog ever built (VCA, VCF, VCO).

This musical engine is the outcome of collaboration between a visionary composer and an ingenious inventor. It challenges us to take it seriously as a piece of machinery: to hammer out its mighty sounds and to summon forth its subtle vibrations.

Within the “Große Konzertnacht” a performance takes place on this unique machine:

Elisabeth Schimana: Infernal Machine (composition for the Max Brand synthesizer)

Operators: Manon Liu Winter, Gregor Ladenhauf

A journey inside the one-of-a-kind machine that is the legacy of composer Max Brand. This mechanical monster, the outcome of decades of development, is the distant ancestor of the Moog Synthesizer. Operated by an outstanding pianist, it snorts its sub-harmonic frequencies and spews them forth into the ether.

A trip to hell with no return ticket.

A Parallel Image 2009

a parallel image

Gebhard Sengmüller, Franz Büchinger
Sponsored by: Fels-Multiprint

In 1880 the French engineer Maurice Leblanc defined for the first time the principle for transmitting images with electricity, which is still valid today.

The basis for this was the idea that an image to be transmitted is broken down into lines; the light impulses are transformed into electrical currents; the sender and receiver of the image must be synchronized; the transmitted electric signals are ultimately transposed into light values on a screen again; and that the picture lines are then recomposed synchronously in time.

The breakdown of images already proposed at that time first became practically possible with the conception of the Nipkow disk by Paul Nipkow in 1883. This was successfully employed for the first time in 1926 by the Scotsman John Logie Baird in an electromechanical television system, the Televisor.

Electronic television is also based on this principle idea of breaking down images into image lines and the therefore requisite time synchronization between sender and receiver.

“A Parallel Image” starts from the assumption that the development just described never happened.

With this claim Gebhard Sengmüller attempts to develop a television format that is useless in its efficiency, but nevertheless technically entirely feasible. His format chooses a parallel transmission of every single pixel, which makes a technically elaborate synchronization in time between sender and receiver superfluous.

Taking this idea to its logical conclusion, this leads to an absurd system that connects a grid of 2500 photoconductors on the sender side with 2500 small light bulbs on the receiver side, pixel by pixel, using a total of 2500 copper wires.

Unlike most media systems today, a direct experience is possible with “A Parallel Image”. Visitors can intervene directly in this interactive sculpture: the outlines of their bodies appear without delay on the monitor. It is possible to play with this image by changing the distance to the camera, etc.

Swivelling the photo lens (or projecting a film onto the camera surface) also makes it possible to render bodies and objects in their gradations of brightness and their plasticity. The starkly reduced resolution of this camera obscura leads at the same time to an image that clearly indicates the process it is based on in its quality.

In memoriam Zelko Wiener. Teil II



The nearly thirty years of Zelko Wiener’s career reflect a whole chapter of media art history. He was interested in emotional sensibilities and changes taking place in our media-saturated society, in the dynamic relationship between proximity and (mediated) distance, as well as between interior and (mediated) exterior worlds, and he also dedicated himself to exploring the masculine image. His work always took a multidisciplinary, including pieces in both traditional and electronic media as well as hybrid analog-digital forms. His oeuvre covers a spectrum from video works to computer animations and computer graphics, from digital photography, video and computer installations (some in real time) to works in the public (telematic) space.

Ursula Hentschläger

Buzz Bubbles 2009

Buzz Bubble

h.o + Dentsu
h.o is: Taizo Zushi, Hide Ogawa, Mizuya Sato, Yuichi Tamagawa and Emiko Ogawa
Dentsu is: Naoto Oiwa, Makoto Teramoto, Yasuharu Sasaki and Tsubasa Kayasuga

With the advancement of information technology, the environment in which we live, our actions and the ways of the market are all rapidly changing. It would seem that information search technology, such as Google’s, has provided efficient means of bringing together people and information. Instead of passively receiving and sifting through a flood of information from sources such as television and advertisements, we are able to obtain only the information we seek through proactive search.

However, this seemingly efficient way of acquiring information has deprived us of opportunities to come across “unexpected encounters” with information and products. Confined in the information space of our interest, we are less likely to meet and discover new items and information previously provided by mass targeted advertising.

Therefore, in this project, targeting the 2009 Ars Electronica Festival catalog, we will create a prototype of a new advertisement system that will provoke interest in artists and works one has previously been unaware of, motivating them to pick up a catalog.

The Ars Electronica Festival catalog contains page-by-page information on participating artists, works on display, projects, conference information and scheduled performances during the festival. What would happen if we tie together this physical catalog with activity from a virtual space like the Internet?

We designed a system where “Buzz” is extracted and generated based on people’s interests and activities on the Ars Electronica web site. We then map the extracted Buzz to information on the pages of the Festival catalog and convert it into physical output. At our installation site, every time there is access to the web site, Buzz is translated into output to a physical bookshop.

P.xx seems to be popular in the Asian region. (access region data)
P.xx has suddenly gained attention this week. (change in access count)
People who like P.xx seem to also access P.yy. (page movement history)

Also, based on the same system, we will print real-time designed bookmarks and paper bags to promote the sales of the festival catalog.

Through this installation, we express the social image of Ars Electronica in real time by tying together talk collected from the web with actual pages of the catalog. Visitors to the festival will be able to bring home “advertisements” generated from voices on the web. In this new bookstore, the catalog is not just a product but also a new advertisement medium. We create active physical encounters that advertisements used to provide, against today’s mechanically streamlined and closed advertisement system provided by information acquisition technologies.

Google says they will digitize all books and make them searchable. In the process, books will be dismantled and the physical element of “pages” will lose its meaning. On the other hand, the way we discover information is likely to expand beyond online search into interactions with the physical world. When we look at things from both this “cloud” and “ground” viewpoint, how can we provide discovery of new products and information in a simple and straightforward manner? Ads are definitely an effective means to accomplish this. There should be an attractive method of communication that brings together people and products—unlike yesterday’s ads which some consider a nuisance. In the process of pursuing this new form of advertisement, we believe we will be able to gain insight on human nature.

This project is a product of a joint project between the artist group “h.o” and the top Japanese advertising agency “Dentsu”, which started in 2008. Continuing from last year’s “A New Cultural Advertising Project (T-shirt project)”, it is an experiment on new forms of advertising staged at the Ars Electronica festival.

h.o is: Taizo Zushi, Hide Ogawa, Mizuya Sato, Yuichi Tamagawa and Emiko Ogawa
Dentsu is: Naoto Oiwa, Makoto Teramoto, Yasuharu Sasaki and Tsubasa Kayasuga

Auracle 1966

Max Neuhaus August 9, 1939 – February 3, 2009
Special Mention of the Jury

“Auracle” is a networked sound instrument, controlled by the voice. You play and hear “Auracle” with other people anywhere in the world in groups of up to five players called “Ensembles”. All members of an ensemble are able to hear each other’s gestures. Listen to the active ensembles in “Auracle” by clicking on their names. Stay with a group that you like, or create a new ensemble yourself and invite others to come and play.

“Auracle” is an instrument, not a piece; it is a system, not a musical composition. It has an internal structure, but it does not define or control the interaction of its participants.


ART+COM has been closely connected to Ars Electronica throughout its 30-year history-including many important submissions to Prix Ars Electronica and going all the way back to work on the concept for the first Ars Electronica Center. This presentation gives an overview of how the creative use of media technologies has evolved over the years.

Zerseher 1992


At the first sight, Zerseher looks like a traditional oil painting on a wall. With closer inspection, one realises that the painting is deforming at exactly the same place where it is looked at. The viewer’s gaze affects the image, which is never seen in the same condition twice.

A framed rear projection on a canvas shows the painting. An eye-tracking system is analysing the spectator’s gaze, from which the exact co-ordinates on the canvas can be calculated. The co-ordinates are then sent to the graphics program that distorts the picture in reaction. As soon as one looks at the picture, it begins to distort. The image is reset to its original condition if nobody is looking at it for 30 seconds.

The project was developed as a reaction to the general attitude to computers as tools rather than a medium, still prevalent at the end of the 80s. The painter swapped brush for a mouse, but used it almost exactly the same way. This installation was to promote one of the most crucial qualities of computers as a medium, its interactivity or mutual dialogue. The painting chosen for this installation, “Boy with a Child-Drawing in His Hand” by Giovanni Francesco Caroto, shows the first documented child drawing in art history – an appropriate metaphor for the state of new media art in late 1980s.

Invisible Shapes 1995 – heute

invisible shapes

The Invisible Shapes of Things Past are parametric translations of movies into space. Single frames from a film sequence are lined up in space, according to the camera movement with which they were shot. Through this translation of single frames consisting of single pixels (picture elements) into space, objects of voxels (volume elements) are generated.

Background and motivation:
Influenced by the emergence of film and multi-exposure photographs, cubists and futurists disintegrated the linear representation of space and time in their pictures and sculptures. They aimed at finding ways to represent movement and introduced the display of multiple times and perspectives of one object.  At the same time, artists like Fischinger, Ruthmann and Eggeling developed the “absolute film”. Its mission was to free itself from the display of everything representational, to produce abstraction with cinematic means according to abstract painting. Next to many other techniques, thin slices were cut off from a ball of modelling clay, and the continuously changing cutting plane was then filmed with a film camera, image after image. The result was a decomposition of this object into single frames that when put together, presented a tracking shot through the object.

In the middle of the 1990s, the project The Invisible Shapes of Things Past was developed to reverse this system and to generate objects and sculptures from pre-existing single frames. The work was motivated by the wish to manifest a counter position to the mania of the then widespread hyper-realism in computer graphics. Another goal was to introduce a method of finding an architectural or sculptural form based not on manual modelling but on generative processes.

Screen based application (1995):
In a virtual representation of a city these film objects are positioned according to the place and time they had been shot in the real city.

Augmented architectural model (1999):
With the help of a Pepper’s ghost technique (semi-transparent mirror projection), a film object was augmented onto a physical architectural model.

Film based sculptures (2006):
With the advent of 3D printers making it possible to print virtual objects as material ones, these immaterial film objects left hard drives and screens and are presented as physical sculptures.

Virtuelle Oper 2002

Virtuelle Oper

The goal of the project was the enhancement of the traditional static stage setting into a reactive and dynamic stage design that plays its own vital role in the narration.

On the stage, large planes were arranged onto which architecture, generated in real-time, was projected. The projection screens formed clipping planes through an imaginary virtual architecture positioned on stage. Machiavelli’s – the opera’s protagonist’s – movements and gestures were camera-tracked, and the virtual architecture moved according to his movements and gestures. This concept allowed linking the staged action and the architecture closely: Machiavelli, as a powerful and dominant character in the play, has power over the stage (and consequently over his co-actors) through the possibilities of interaction given to him.

In addition to the architecture, the costumes of the actors were also augmented with digital media. Via a tracking system developed especially for this opera, digital masks were generated in real-time, according to the silhouettes of the actors. Textures were then pasted onto these masks, and the ensuing “media costumes” were projected to fit exactly onto the singers. This way, it was possible to depict the characters’ conditions and feelings with dynamic textures on their bodies.

Despite the complexity of the software and hardware developed for this project, technology was never at the forefront. The exclusive aim was to generate new ways of expression for the director and the actors.

The project was commissioned by the Opera Biennale Munich in 1999 and premiered in 2002. Composer: André Werner, libretto based on the novel by Christopher Marlowe. The project is a co-production between ART+COM and bureau+staubach, supported by ZKM Karlsruhe. Co-authors and developers: Nils Krueger, Bernd Lintermann, Andre Bernhardt, Jan Schroeder, Andeas Kratky.

Mapping the Archive: Prix Ars Electronica

Mapping the Archive: Prix Ars Electronica

Ludwig Boltzmann Institut for Media.Art.Research.

Evelyn Münster, Jaume Nualart, Dietmar Offenhuber, Moritz Stefaner, Gerhard Dirmoser

This project presents the results of an interdisciplinary investigation of the Prix Ars Electronica archive in the form of interactive and static visualizations of information. The archive is examined on three levels: total submissions since 1987 as a quantitative analysis, the jury process as a social network analysis, and the winning projects and their context in accordance with art scholarship.

The project is a collaboration between the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research. and Ars Electronica.

fhSPACE. Social media environment teaching and documentation

fhSPACE. Social media environment teaching and documentation

Fachhochschule St. Pölten / Studiengang Telekommunikation und Medien, Medientechnik und Soziale Arbeit: Alois Huber, Thiemo Kastel, Hannes Raffaseder, Markus Seidl, Markus Wintersberger in Zusammenarbeit mit Kerstin Blumenstein, Johanna Burgstaller, Martin Grubinger, Edin Karadza, Alexander Kiflom, Olivia Mayrzett, Christian Müller, Rene Reiter, Sarah Rosenwald, Elisabeth Schneider, Thomas Tröger, Isabella Wagner, Andreas Wimmer, Arthur Wranik u. a. / /

A walk-through Weblog environment will shed both real and virtual illumination on—and constitute a real and virtual reflection of—the 2009 Ars Electronica Festival.

This work is the outcome of collaboration among students in the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences’ Media Technology (bachelors), Telecommunications and Media (masters) and Social Work programs.

The St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences’ transdisciplinary-integrative approach to education is reflected in the complex, interwoven tasks of research, documentation, depiction, transparency and propagation of content in the real world and in an expanded medial environment. The learning sphere is opened thereby up to reality; the discrete institutional realm is merged into the public sphere and made accessible and understandable thereby.