(St)Age of Participation 2011

Between 2011 and 2015, under the scientific direction of Christopher Lindinger, the Ars Electronica Futurelab and media artist, choreographer and composer Klaus Obermaier have been jointly investigating innovative forms of audience involvement in stage-based media art. (St)Age of Participation was the project’s title, a reference to the contemporary paradigm of social media, user-generated content and the culture of collaboration in the digital domain. In late 2010, the FWF–Austrian Science Fund’s PEEK arts development program granted funding for this project to the Futurelab, the only non-university research facility to receive such a subsidy.


Apparition – An interactive dance and media performance – the first collaboration between Klaus Obermaier and the Ars Electronica Futurelab in 2004.


The artistic research process going on in conjunction with “(St)Age of Participation” focused on achieving exemplary conceptualization of dynamic interaction dramaturgies. This effort was based on the analysis and enhancement of useful technologies such as tracking systems, laser scans, ambient devices, 3D avatars and augmented reality apps. Moreover, the project staff was designing three settings for dramaturgical experiments and testing them in cooperation with professional performance artists in multiple trials with live audiences. Each trial was being assessed according to artistic, technological and social-scientific criteria as well as from the audience’s perspective. The ultimate aim was to impart a new quality to the audience’s emotional and social involvement in artistic experiences.

With “Letterbox”, the first series of micro performances had been successfully conducted at the Ars Electronica Center’s Deep Space. A test audience of more than 150 people participated in these events, exploring multi-media, interactive and three-dimensional technologies for stage performances of the future. After a period of reflection, a second micro performance was developed for 2013, based upon „Letterbox“.


With “Letterbox”, the first series of micro performances has been successfully conducted at the Ars Electronica Center’s Deep Space.


With “Take a Number, Leave Your Head. A Cellar Club Piece with Drinks and Dada”, a second series of micro-performances was conducted in the frame of Ars Electronica Festival 2014. Klaus Obermaier and the Ars Electronica Futurelab recoursed to an anti-art movement that still packs a punch even as it nears 100: Dada with its predilection for the anarchic and absurd. 98 years after the first Salon Dada in Zürich’s Cabaret Voltaire, the experimental piece takes the Dada mentality that once rained down abuse on the bourgeoisie and lets it loose on our high-tech present.


Klaus Obermaier (right) during the rehearsals with the performing artists Barbara Vuzem (left) and Katharina Pfiel (middle).


Kurt Schwitters’ famous sound poem Ursonate (1923-32) gets transformed into an interactive dance performance by dancer Barbara Vuzem


Artist & Concept:

Christopher Lindinger, Klaus Obermaier

Project Team:

Roland Aigner, Roland Haring, Martina Mara, Benjamin Mayr, Otto Naderer, Veronika Pauser, Erwin Reitböck


Michael Gross, Katharina Pfiel, Malwina Stepien, Olga Swietlicka, Barbara Vuzem,  Olga Swietlicka

Stage Design:

Jakob Illera, Max Helbig