Ars Electronica Linz 2010

Ready to pull the lifeline?

Ars Electronica 2010
Festival for Art,
Technology and Society
Linz, 2
nd – 11th September 2010

Repair – sind wir noch zu retten / REPAIR – ready to pull the lifeline

The Press Office of this year's Ars Electronica 2010 offers
accreditations, materials, gifts and publications, as well as a book reviewing thoroughly the 30 years of Ars Electronica, Linz. Ars Electronica 2010, named REPAIR and subtitled a Festival for Art, Technology and Society, has been wondering whether we can discover the lifeline to save the world.

There’s no time left for warnings. We’re in it up to our necks right now—in the climate crisis, Surveillance Society, the bankruptcy of the financial sector… We’ve passed the points of no return. The dramatic consequences are looming on the horizon today. And there’s no excuse for our lethargy since we already possess ideas, tools and techniques to initiate a change of course. We just have to take action! Roll up our sleeves and get to work on a job that can no longer be avoided. We have to mend our ways and get things moving in the right direction.”

REPAIR – ready to pull the lifeline

Sometimes the only way to repair is to restart

We have to change ourselves!

Repair – Rethink – Reinvent

Do it yourself – Repair it yourself!

Repair = Regeneration

There’s no time left for warnings. We’re up to our necks in the climate crisis, Surveillance Society, the bankruptcy of the financial sector… We’ve passed the points of no return. This is the message of this year's festival policy. The festival has been moved from its usual locations to halls and warehouses of a former tobacco processing plant taking up a vast space by the river Danube (where 80,000 m2 are available for exhibitions and festival events!), a bit further down the road from Bruckner Haus, whose Klangwolke, the cloud of sound, remains a festival companion.

More than 200 exhibitions and installations are arranged by topics and sections, so as to help guide the visitors as well as shape its own path through events, performances, openings and presentations, and intertwine the paths through objects and the passages between them: Opening, Repair the Environment, Design for Repair, New Work Factory, Repair our Society, Overtures – ZeitRäume, Repair Yourself, Future Factory, Featured Artist, Electrical Walks, Prix Ars Electronica, Campus, Japanese Media Art Festival, Sound Space, Klangwolke, Lange Konzertnacht, Nightline, Ars Electronica Center, Scenes & Structures.

The dramatic consequences showing on the horizon have to be contradicted and we already have the ideas, tools and techniques to change the direction. We have to roll up our sleeves and start working on what can be avoided no longer – we have to turn the current in the right direction. The pioneers of our age are no adventurers, there are no ventures into the unknown along long and unknown paths as they used to be, today we have visionaries and experts, creatives and idealists handling our future opportunities. This year, the festival imperative is Repair, to follow the visions and solutions already available.

Ars Electronica takes place in Linz, Austria, a city that thanks to the festival history dating back to 1979, thus exceeding 30 years, has been established as an international platform for digital art and media culture. The platform comprises the annual festival, Prix Ars Electronica awards, the Museum of the Future AE Center and the Laboratory for Future Innovations AE Futurelab:

  • Ars Electronica – Festival for Art, Technology and Society
  • Prix Ars Electronica – International Competition for CyberArts
  • Ars Electronica Center – Museum of the Future
  • Ars Electronica Futurelab – Laboratory for Future Innovations

This year, the unavoidable novelty of the festival was the location, as well as the exploration of industrial heritage by means of new programmes – festival events. As it is today, the Tabakfabrik was built between 1930 and 1935, its steel structure defining an industrial object of modernist style. However, the history of the Tabakfabrik goes further back, to 1850, when the Austrian national tobacco company began manufacturing cigars and chewing tobacco. Already in 1855 the factory employed more than a thousand workers, mostly women. The German architect Peter Behrens and the Austrian Alexander Popp expanded the factory complex and applied industrial architecture, which shows functional and aesthetic excellence. As the manufacture ended in 2009, the city of Linz bought the entire complex from Japan Tobacco International/Austria Tabak for about 20 million Euro, and Johannes Kepler University, Linz was selected to perform a study on further use of the complex.

Festival visitors were guided around the complex by a number of signs leading towards the main entrance, through the administration building and onwards to the application hall – then there were installations and work exhibitions before the exit to the factory complex courtyard: The Deconstruction of Ego (Tove Kjellmark, Norway) was having its head propped against the floor, its arm having fallen away, it was constantly being repaired; walls were covered in city images accompanied by sounds, at the courtyard there was a radio FM4 stall as well as food and drink stalls, a (basketball) basket high in the air, fixed on the façade (Never Ever, Benjamin Bergmann, Germany). The courtyard is closed by the multi-storey Building 1 (Bau 1) and Building 2, and between them shops and ramps, and considering the number of storeys – kilometres of paths between exhibition spaces. One could gladly use any of the bicycles or object made by students of Hamburg School for Applied Sciences exhibited at Proben (Trials). Festival venues were furnished with PappLab cardboard “furniture”: for exhibition spaces, writing tables, armchairs and three-seat sofas, wastebaskets or boxes arranged imaginarily.

Expanded Interface is an installation and presentation made by students of Darmstadt Faculty of Media and Crawford School of Art and Design, Cork, Ireland held in the so-called AE Campus Exhibition. One can attempt to keep the balance on a rocking plate, hug a tree replica, which is supposed to strengthen our awareness of ecological problems, or cook using the recipes available at the umami project touch screen. The section Interface Cultures By University of Art and Industrial Design Linz plays with interactive media and interface technologies – from artificial stupidity to one-minute shopping using a shopping trolley and the bonuses accumulated (at the exhibition Playful Interface Cultures).

The third storey of Building 1 features a double colonnade with more than fifty stone columns, arranged into two lines, concealing the exit across. Magnificent. Empty. Ready for a long gig night with the music by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Arvo Pärt, Luigi Nono (Experiencing [Listening] Spaces, Hear the Architecture / Räume hören).

The festival schedule lists discussions, lectures, presentations, symposiums, numerous openings of various programme sections, OK Cyberarts 10 also presents some award winners. Stelarc has been awarded a Golden Nica for hybrid art for his Ear on Arm project. We stand before the façade projection like voyeurs, zooming in on the happenings in each window using a telescope; then take photos of Thomas Thwaites' Toaster project, inspired by a sentence from Douglas Adams' Mostly Harmless (1992), a trilogy in four books in five parts; we stare in the reflections of Earth by the Icelandic artist Finnbogi Pétursson… – we congratulate all the award winners and Julian Oliver for his hybrid art award for the Men in Grey.

When talking to artists working and creating in Linz, the question emerges of the concentration of funds allocated to the festival and contemporary digital cyber art – yet it is an indisputable fact that AE provides Linz with its stamp and global identity. For a number of years, the awareness of the existence of industrially degraded urban environments has been featured in certain AE events. These were held in the voestalpine part of the city, i.e. the industrial part of Linz, situated in the Danube river canal, shut from the city by a ring road, thus being cut form the urban tissue. As opposed to this chemical metal processing industry, the Tabakfabrik is situated within a residential urban area. Similarly to the Ars Electronica Center in the immediate surroundings of the town hall, and Lentos art museum at Danube riverside, featuring an art collection of the period 1900–2010, and during the festival hosting the exhibition Contemporary Art in Austria within Triennale Linz 1.0, and OK Offenes Kulturhaus OÖ in the city centre, parallel to the main shopping street and connected to the neighbouring buildings by means of a wooden roof construction. This enables us to reach the open-air cinema among bell towers, situated on the top floor of the neighbouring parking garage, furnished with a screen, a seated auditorium and hammocks suspended between rooftop installations – for film screenings under the stars, for Art in a parking garage, for the Triennale film programme, for a coffee and a snack (Zur Höhenlust).

Bakeries in Linz sell the Linzer torte, sometimes also the cookies that Slovenians call the Linzer (or ox) eye. At snack time or late at night, one eats liver cheese (with spinach, onions, cheese or no extras) with a kaiser roll (and bier). And to experience this, the presence on Twitter, Facebook or Flickr is not enough. Also aware of this are the friends and participants of the Digital Commune collaborating on the project Transforming freedom, also active in the x-op network. At the festival they socialise with artists and hackers of the circle concentrated at the and digital commune locations. They invited us kindly to the Hacker Cocktail taking place nearby the Tabakfabrik and offered their help in seeking affordable accommodation and food during the festival. However, prices are not to high in Linz, a leak soup is available for 3 Euro, accommodation for 20 or 30 Euro per night, and getting from Graz to Linz by train takes less than three hours, despite having to travel a part of the route by bus due to repair work at Selzthal. It is recommended though to be an accredited journalist or a festival participant to visit the festival and other venues.

Even after the festival, the major part of venues in Linz remain active – apart from festival exhibitions, of course. At the riverbank, one can enjoy the presentation of the Museum of the Future projected each night to the AE Center façade, or join the Japanese visitors on their plunge into technological toys and equipment (which gets your pupil scanned in passing, and your eye muscle and brain activity detected as they direct you in observing the image, or gives you the opportunity to type a message on the keyboard just by directing your gaze on certain keys or letters; or gets your entire body scanned, so that you can view in a mirror your bones, veins or internal organs, including the throbbing heart muscle) – this is future lab for you – and leave your fingerprint on the sensor that based on the recording generates a city in Geo City, its buildings arranged according to your fingerprint. The AE festival is followed by Brucknerfest for music aficionados, Lentos and Offene Kulturhaus serve as places of contemporary artistic production, only the seat of the 2009 European Capital of Culture remains without a new tenant and programme, its windows gazing blindly towards the Linz main square, where a flee market is held on Saturdays. What the future programme of the Tabakfabrik complex is, shall be clear at the AE 2011 festival next September.

Will the current state of emergency be fruitful? Are we ready for new solutions?

Will cooking using solar energy be a necessity (which it already is in come parts of the world) or a conscious decision?

The work Gyre by Chris Jordan – an image of waves – is a collage of 2.4 million pieces of plastic collected from the Pacific Ocean

Snežana Štabi

Picture Gallery (Author: KIBLA)



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