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 7 to 11, 2017. Read interviews with artists, curators, scientists, and get some inspiration around the theme that moves us this year: Artificial Intelligence.


“K-9_topology”: On Humans, Dogs and Bioethics

“K-9_topology,” a series of works by Slovenian artist Maja Smrekar, won last year’s Golden Nica in the Prix Ars Electronica’s Hybrid Arts category. In this interview, Maja Smrekar explains what’s behind these four projects, how dogs and wolves characterize her work, and which ethical questions she investigates.
Hello Machine!

Who or what is on the line? Find out via “Hello Machine”!

The "Hello Machine" is an installation connecting the Ars Electronica Festival Linz, Science Gallery Dublin and Volkswagen Berlins Drive Exhibition, has been developed with the assistance of the Ars Electronica FutureLab, by way of vintage or obsolete pay phones from Hanlon’s collection. The Hello Machine’s ‘Hello Machine - Hello Human’ feature touches on the playful moments that are shared between man and machine.

Day 5: ‘Til We Meet Again at the Ars Electronica Festival!

Sad but true—the fifth and final day of the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival has come to a close. Amazing how time flies when you’re having fun at so many absorbing events! We sincerely hope you checked off everything on your to-do list. Here’s a brief retrospective look at Day 5.

Day 4: Jam-Packed with Highlights

The 2017 Ars Electronica Festival is already four days old. And Sunday as well lived up to high expectations with a great lineup of conferences, workshops, media art, performances and much more. The most noteworthy event was undoubtedly Markus Poschner’s premiere as chief conductor of Linz’s Bruckner Orchester. But let’s take this one step at a time! So here we go on a lavishly illustrated summary of Day 4.

Day 3: Starting the weekend with Media Art

Our festival Saturday made an exciting start into the weekend: With the Helper's Conference, the final hours of the Hackathon, an organic farmer's market, the Expanded Animations Symposium, the Prix and STARTS Forums, and of course countless exhibitions full of state-of-the-art media art, the festival was once again filled to the brim with wonderful events. Let's have a look!

Day 2: Impressions without an End

Thinking together, celebrating together. From conferences to ceremonies, from exhibitions to workshops, from VR glasses to brain-computer interfaces. Another inspiring impressions from the 2nd festival day.

Day 1: Welcome to the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival

The big day has finally arrived—this year’s Ars Electronica Festival is underway! The preparations had been going full speed ahead for months now to once again make this huge celebration of media art something absolutely extraordinary. And that’s exactly what has come to pass! Here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few impressions of the first day of the festival.
Everything_02 © David OReilly 20172

From Atoms to Entire Galaxies: “Everything”

This year’s Golden Nica in the Computer Animation/Film/VFX category goes to David OReilly for “Everything,” his game that literally lets you play with everything—from the tiniest atom to the biggest galaxy. In this interview, the artist and game developer tells more about his work.

Ars Electronica Festival 2017: The Technology behind the Scenes!

The Ars Electronica Festival annually transforms the mini-metropolis Linz into the global hotspot of media art that attracts tens of thousands of visitors. Karl Schmidinger, technical director of the Ars Electronica Festival, tells us in this interview how he and his crew make it possible for this big show to go on!
Rock Print

Rock Print: Building with Cable and Pebbles

The idea seems so simple—Rock Print, a STARTS Prize honoree, demonstrates how to build a large structure out of only gravel and wire. But behind the seeming simplicity is the difficulty of implementing the concept in real life. In this interview, Matthias Kohler and Fabio Gramazio of ETH–Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich tell why the joint project with the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT was such a surprise to both the construction industry and the STARTS Prize jury.

Feminism and Climate Change: UCLA at the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival

The Campus exhibition that Linz Art University has hosted during the Ars Electronica Festival since 2002 extends an invitation to an art college from a foreign country to come to Linz and showcase the work being done there. This year’s guest is the University of California at Los Angeles. In this interview, Professor Victoria Vesna gives us a preview of UCLA’s exhibition, FEMINIST CLIMATE CHANGE: Beyond the Binary.

RADICAL ATOMS: Rethinking Materials

A fresh update from the Tangible Media Group, an interdisciplinary research facility at MIT Media Lab in Cambridge MA, USA, is the latest attraction of the RADICAL ATOMS exhibition in the Ars Electronica Center. These three programmable materials are presented in this interview with Prof. Hiroshi Ishii, the director and founder of the lab.

Markus Poschner’s 1st Big Concert Night Is Entitled “Departure”

The Bruckner Orchester’s new chief conductor, Markus Poschner, is not only making some significant changes at Linz’s Brucknerhaus concert venue; he’s also giving a creative makeover to the Big Concert Night at the Ars Electronica Festival. The first such event on which he’s made his mark is set for Sunday evening, September 10, 2017. He tells us more in this interview.

Dynamic Technology at the Festival: How Brain Power Can Drive an Earthmover

Visitors of this year's Ars Electronica Festival will be able to actually take command of an earthmover with their eye movements and mental powers. Read what it takes to participate and how this mind-melting experiment came into existence.

“Corpus Nil”: A Performance by Man and Artificial Intelligence

Man meets artificial intelligence in a performance entitled “Corpus Nil.” Depending on the tension and posture of artist Marco Donnarumma’s body, an artificially intelligent algorithm modifies the light and sound on stage. Festivalgoers will be able to experience this spectacle live at the Big Concert Night on Sunday, September 10, 2017. In this interview, Marco Donnarumma goes into the background of his impressive performance.

Artificial Intelligence and Spirituality: Zenbo Hidaka

A monk who’s also an expert in artificial intelligence is one of the speakers at the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival’s Opening Symposium as well as the artificial intelligence Theme Conference. Zenbo Hidaka will discuss the latest technologies, artificially intelligent machines, and spirituality on September 7th and 8th. Here, he provides some initial insights into his field of expertise.

As if in a Trance: Maki Namekawa and “20 Etudes for 20 Etudes”

An Austrian premiere concludes the Festival on Monday, September 11, 2017. Maki Namekawa will perform all 20 of Philip Glass’ piano etudes accompanied by artist Cori Olan’s real-time visualizations. The duo will also present a daily demonstration of their virtuosity in Deep Space 8K. Maki Namekawa tells us more in this interview.

ZusammenKommenLab: Innovative Integration Projects and More

Networking, meeting new people and exchanging ideas with experts—that’s what’s up at ZusammenKommenLab [ComingTogetherLab] at Ars Electronica 2017. On all five days of the festival, ZusammenHelfen in Oberösterreich [HelpingTogether in Upper Austria], your go-to source for ways to help refugees, will be showcasing projects by, with and for immigrants and refugees.

“Technology is human”: How Culture Shapes Technology

Mark Coeckelbergh, a philosopher of technology, will deliver a speech on intelligent machines and art on Friday, September 8, 2017 at the symposium limning the Ars Electronica Festival theme, “Artificial Intelligence – The Other I.” In this interview, he goes into how culture shapes technology and what characterizes our dealings with artificial intelligence today.

WE GUIDE YOU through the 2017 Festival

There’s a lot happening at the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival! But with so many exhibitions, concerts, performances, events, workshops, film screenings and awards ceremonies, it’s easy to get lost. That’s why we developed WE GUIDE YOU, a comprehensive lineup of guided tours that make things clear—especially for festivalgoers who speak neither German nor English.

Festival Tours: Thanks to WKOÖ UBIT

The WKOÖ [Economic Chamber of the State of Upper Austria] represents the interests of the regional business community. The UBIT, its group for business consultants, accountants and IT specialists, is sponsoring the guided tours at this year’s festival. We talked to Chairman Markus Roth to learn more.

Spaxels Research Initiative – Swarms of the Future

How to deal with networks of intelligent, autonomous robots raises many questions that the Spaxels Research Initiative aims to formulate and pose.

Theater & Digital Media: One Topic, Two Perspectives

Theater & Digital Media is debuting as a focal-point topic at Ars Electronica this year. September 7-11, 2017, this conclave is hosting encounters of, among others, traditional institutions such as Linz’s Landestheater and performative experiments like “Breaking the Wall” by Chris and Didi Bruckmayr. In this interview, we found out how digital media are changing both classical theater and experimental performances.

Comically Inefficient: Joseph Herscher’s Machines

New York artist Joseph Herscher uses everyday objects to build Rube Goldberg machines that are as inefficient as can be. At the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival, he’ll be involved in three projects that illustrate his playful approach to creativity. In this interview, we found out what exactly awaits us.

How much globalization can humankind stand?

This is the second year that the Ars Electronica Festival is hosting a “Perspectives on Political Education” symposium. This series of events under the aegis of Pädagogische Hochschule OÖ [state teachers college] is set for September 7-8, 2017. This year’s theme: “The world is my world. How much globalization can humankind stand?” Stefan Giegler told us what’s in store.
Beyond Humans

Beyond Humans: Artificial Intelligence, Yawning Wide

Artificial intelligence is the theme of this year’s Ars Electronica. The 2017 media art festival’s encapsulating motif is provided by the “Beyond Humans” research project. The respective roles played by the android and the chimp depicted in this image were elaborated on by the project’s scholarly director, Ramiro Joly-Mascheroni.

Consummate Electronic Music: Ars Electronica Nightline 2017

Night owls and music fans are in for a real treat at the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival. The Opening extravaganza on Thursday, September 7th and the Nightline on Friday, September 8th offer highly danceable riffs conducive to high-energy nights. We sat down with the Salon 2000 curatorial team to find out more.
Not Your World Music

Not Your World Music: In Search of Traces in Southeast Asia

A project entitled “Not Your World Music: Noise in South East Asia” by artists Dimitri della Faille and Cedrik Fermont is one of the very few works about noise & sound art in Southeast Asia. In this interview, the 2017 Golden Nica winners talk about how they got involved in such a huge endeavor and their experiences during this journey of discovery.

BR41N.IO Hackathon: On Your Marks, Get Set, Hack!

This event is the first of its kind at the Ars Electronica Festival—the BR41N.IO Hackathon demands high performance from hackers and designers, who’ll have 24 hours beginning at 11 AM on Friday, September 8th to conjure up projects based on brain-computer interfaces. To find out how this Hackathon will happen, what sort of stuff will come out of it, and who can register, read on.

CyberArts 2017: Excellence in Media Art

The CyberArts exhibition running during the Ars Electronica Festival September 7-11, 2017 once again showcases this year’s Prix Ars Electronica prizewinners. In this interview, the exhibition staff tells us about the show and the accompanying program of events including OK Night.

CREATE YOUR WORLD 2017: Adventure Playground of Media Art

An annual feature at the Ars Electronica Festival, CREATE YOUR WORLD, the future festival of the next generation, shows young people the ideas and technologies they’ll be using to change our world. Hans Christian Merten, director of CREATE YOUR WORLD, told about all the great stuff youngsters will be seeing, trying out and exploring September 7-11.

Framing Media Art: The Festival Architecture

Configuring the 80,000-square-meter interior of POSTCITY Linz with lucid structures conducive to exhibiting media art is no easy task. But the architects at ANY:TIME took up this challenge and are working out a suitable framework for the artwork at the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival. Here, they discuss their approach.

Ars Electronica Festival 2017: The Innovations

One thing the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival definitely won’t be is boring! Lots of fascinating new features await festivalgoers September 7-11. Ars Electronica Artistic Director Gerfried Stocker told us about what’s new on this year’s lineup.
Light Barrier 2nd Edition 3rd Edition@Kimchi and Chips (Mimi Son and Elliot Woods)

Computer Animation +++: The 2017 Ars Electronica Animation Festival

Screenings, symposia and hands-on adventure with virtual reality installations—there’s a lot doing at this year’s Ars Electronica Animation Festival September 7-11, 2017. We met up with the production team to find out more about the program, the participating artists and their works.

The Essence of Human, Machine and Data: POINT ZERO

POINT ZERO, the exhibition elaborating on the Ars Electronica Festival’s theme, “Artificial Intelligence – The Other I,” (September 7-11, 2017) takes on big questions. What is the essence of a human being? Of a machine? Or, for that matter, of data? We sat down for a chat with Ars Electronica Artistic Director Gerfried Stocker to get a few initial clues.

Sound Art at the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival: Sonic Saturday and Music Monday

With Sonic Saturday on September 9th and Music Monday on September 11th, the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival now features two days dedicated to sound art. What can we look forward to this year? We found out!

“Integration concerns every one of us”: The 3rd Helpers Conference in Linz

A Helpers Conference organized by ZusammenHelfen in Oberösterreich (Helping Together in Upper Austria) will once again be held during the Ars Electronica Festival. Volunteers who work with refugees will gather for an exchange of information and ideas on Saturday, September 9, 2017 in POSTCITY Linz. Nicole Sonnleitner of ZusammenHelfen in Oberösterreich told us more.

European Cooperative Projects: Innovation through Diversity

Taking advantage of this continent’s diversity—that’s what Ars Electronica has been doing in a broad spectrum of collaborative projects clear across Europe. In this interview, Festival Director Martin Honzik and Producer Veronika Liebl told us about them and what role they’ll play at the Ars Electronica Festival September 7-11, 2017.
FEAT_boredomresearch_Robots in Distress_simulation (2)

FEAT: Arts and Technologies of the Future

The FEAT Project staged seven nine-month residencies in which artists worked together with scientists at the interface of art and technology. At the FEAT interview panel on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at the Ars Electronica Festival, panelists will discuss why this collaboration can occasionally be difficult but is rewarding nevertheless.
Lisa Buttinger

Nonvisual Art: Novel Images of Magical Beauty

Lisa Buttinger displayed meticulous attention to the most minute details as she went about completing her graduation project at Linz’s High School for Artistic Design. In this interview, she talks about what she calls nonvisual art, an innovative artistic medium that has garnered her twofold honors—the Golden Nica in the 2017 Prix Ars Electronica’s u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD category and an Honorary Mention from the 2017 STARTS Prize.
The Sung Portrait_Alexandre, Isadora

Interface Cultures’ Campus Exhibition: Made in Linz, Guaranteed

The Campus Exhibition at this year’s Ars Electronica Festival showcases Linz Art University’s Interface Cultures program. “Made in Linz” includes recent works of media art by undergraduates. The program’s founder and director, Christa Sommerer, offers some pre-show insights.

Décor that really grows on you: Linz’s Municipal Gardens Are Greening the Ars Electronica Festival

POSTCITY Linz, the festival location, has been vacant for several years now. The gray halls seem deserted, cheerless. Linz’s municipal gardeners have been assigned the job of giving a friendly makeover to this interior in time for the Ars Electronica Festival September 7-11. The upbeat greenery got off to an auspicious start in mid-summer, and we were on hand to capture it.

u19 Exhibit: Youngsters Design Their Own Exhibition!

Once again this year, the young honorees in the Prix Ars Electronica’s u19 category will decide for themselves how their prizewinning projects will be displayed at the Ars Electronica Festival, September 7-11 2017. They’re coming up with some initial ideas at an exhibition design workshop. The plans emerging now will become a reality by September.

Fallout Shelter, Conveyer Belts, Spiral Packet Chutes and Lots of Media Art: Highlights of the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival in POSTCITY

September 7-11, 2017, POSTCITY Linz will once again morph into a sprawling playground of media artists from all over the world. The theme of this year’s Ars Electronica Festival is Artificial Intelligence – The Other I. We recently sat down with Festival Director Martin Honzik to get a sneak preview.

Turnton Docklands: Walk-through Environmental Dystopia and Possible Vision of the Future

The Linz-based artists’ collective Time’s Up builds walk-through worlds, physical narratives, in which every object tells a story. At Ars Electronica Festival September 7-11, 2017, festivalgoers will be able to experience one of them: “Turnton Docklands.” We talked to Time’s Up about this mix of environmental dystopia, social utopia and disturbing future scenario.
Farmer's Market BIO Austria

“A as in apple, B as in broccoli, C as in cheese …” The Organic Farmers’ Market at the Festival

The Ars Electronica Festival is dedicating an entire day to sampling organic delicacies of the highest quality in POSTCITY Linz. Once again this year, BIO AUSTRIA is staging a farmer’s market amidst all the media art. Here, BIO AUSTRIA’s Marlene Wolfsteiner tells us about all the healthy goodies festivalgoers will be enjoying, and why organic farming is so essential.
STARTS Prize 2017 Projects

2017 STARTS Prize: Innovative Projects That Cross the Boundaries of Disciplines

Dealing with complex issues calls for marshalling insights and skills from numerous fields, cultures and perspectives. Excellence in accomplishing this is precisely what the European Commission aims to honor with the STARTS Prize. Here, we present 2017’s best projects and what the jury’s statement has to say about them. Many will be featured in a special exhibition running at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz.
Prime Meridian Zero Degrees by Lita Albuquerque

UCLA Making a Guest Appearance at Ars Electronica Festival

A top foreign university will once again be featured in the Campus Exhibition at the 2017 Ars Electronica Festival. This year’s special guest is UCLA–The University of California at Los Angeles. Here, Professor Victoria Vesna gives us a preview of the “Feminist Climate Change” exhibition and an account of how media art gained admission to college.
Future Innovators Summit

Future Innovators Summit 2017: A Creative Think Tank for Big Questions about the Future

Embedded in the inspiring setting of the Ars Electronica Festival in POSTCITY Linz, the Future Innovators Summit is once again inviting motivated individuals from the worlds of art, technology and science to exchange ideas and thereby formulate questions of central importance to humankind’s future. FIS project director Hideaki Ogawa offers some conceptual points of departure for a stimulating encounter with the big issue: artificial intelligence.

The Wandering Artist Project

For her proposal to send a robot with artistic skills into outer space, robotics engineer Sarah Petkus was the recipient of an Honorary Mention from the 2016 art&science@ESA. In this interview, she talks about her plans for her upcoming residency at the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Ars Electronica Futurelab, about humane robots, and the essential elements that actually constitute a robot.
Prix Winners 2017

The 2017 Golden Nicas

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Golden Nicas! 3,677 entries were submitted from 106 countries for 2017 Prix Ars Electronica prize consideration. We would like to introduce you to the award-winning works now.
STARTS 2017 winner

STARTS Prize: The 2017 Prizewinners

This year’s STARTS PRIZE recipients come from Japan and Switzerland. “I’m Humanity” garnered the Grand Prize for Artistic Exploration for Etsuko Yakushimaru; the Grand Prize for Innovative Collaboration goes to Gramazio Kohler Research at ETH–Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT for their “Rock Print” installation.
Gerfried Stocker

Artificial Intelligence – The Other I

September 7-11, 2017, POSTCITY Linz will be the setting of a stimulating, comprehensive confrontation with the reality and the vision of artificial intelligence. We talked to Ars Electronica Artistic Director Gerfried Stocker about this year’s festival theme.