Prix Ars Electronica 2015: The Juries’ Verdicts Are In!

The 25 international experts have concluded their deliberations and named the recipients of the five Golden Nicas and other honors. Here’s a look back at the 2015 Prix jury meetings, one of the most exciting weekends in the Ars Electronica year.

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xVOG_3059-EditThe jurors and staff of the 2015 Prix Ars Electronica. Photo: Florian Voggeneder

This is a competition with a long tradition. The Prix Ars Electronica has been honoring excellence in media art since 1987. In 2015, entries could be submitted in five categories. Finally, the 25 jurors convened April 16-19, 2015 at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz. At their respective meetings – sessions held simultaneously and in private – the five juries chose the artists who will be singled out for recognition with the coveted Golden Nicas this year.

x20150417_HIM78505_himThe Golden Nica, here the output of a 3-D printer in the Ars Electronica Center’s FabLab. The real deal will be bestowed on prizewinners at the awards ceremony in early September 2015 during the Ars Electronica Festival. Photo: Martin Hieslmair

Public Announcement at the End of May 2015

This was no easy job – nearly 2,900 submissions from over 75 countries had to be evaluated and discussed in a series of sessions. Each round further winnowed down the list of contenders; nevertheless, that didn’t ultimately make it much easier to reach a final decision and come to a unanimous agreement on a single grand prize winner. In addition to the Golden Nicas, the juries also chose the recipients of the Awards of Distinction and Honorary Mentions. All prizewinners will be officially announced on May 26, 2015 at a press conference and at

x20150417_IMG_3669_himOne of the deliberation sessions in the Ars Electronica Center—here, the jury in the Hybrid Art category. Photo: Martin Hieslmair

Get-together at the Ars Electronica Festival

The honorees will receive their awards at a gala held in conjunction with the Ars Electronica Festival September 3-7, 2015 in Linz. This year’s theme is POST CITY – Habitats for the 21st Century. And not only the prizewinners will be on hand at the festival; many of the jurors will also be returning to Linz, where members of both groups will engage in the fine art of conversation at Prix Forums. Another annual festival highlight is the opening of the CyberArts exhibition showcasing the prizewinning works of media art in the OK Center for Contemporary Art.

x20150417_IMG_3780_himThe Ars Electronica Center’s seminar space morphed into a screening room for expert cineastes to select the Golden Nica recipient in the Computer Animation / Film / VFX category. Photo: Martin Hieslmair

Five Categories, Five Juries, 25 Jurors

The juries in the respective categories – this year: Computer Animation / Film / VFX, Digital Musics & Sound Art, Hybrid Art, u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD and [the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant—are constituted anew every year. Aside from providing the organizational framework, all that Ars Electronica does is to place its infrastructure at the disposal of the five juries. The jurors themselves are the ones who select the Prix Ars Electronica prizewinners.

xVOG_3132Yeah, keeper. No, next. Following intensive deliberations, the jurors—like those charged with assessing entries in Digital Musics & Sound Art—finally arrived at a consensus. Photo: Florian Voggeneder

International Experts

Like every year, the works submitted for prize consideration came from all over the world. And so did the jurors who gathered in Linz over this long weekend. They traveled from Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Russia and the USA, as well as from many cities throughout Austria. Their ranks included filmmakers, musicians, professors, programmers, sound artists, curators and scientists.

x20150417_IMG_3732_himThe jury in the u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD category evaluating submissions. Photo: Martin Hieslmair

xVOG_3187Discussing who’ll receive [the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant. Photo: Florian Voggeneder

A Foretaste of the Ars Electronica Festival

Two outings to fascinating locations were arranged for this year’s jurors. One was a tour of the voestalpine Stahlwelt [The World of Steel]. The other was a visit to the former postal service letter & parcel distribution center at Linz’s main train station, a 100,000-m2 facility that will be the 2015 Ars Electronica Festival’s prime venue. There was enthusiasm in the air as jurors reconnoitered the mothballed premises that will serve as this year’s festival grounds.

x20150417_HIM78537_himPrix Ars Electronica jurors and staffers on their way through the former letter & parcel distribution center. Photo: Martin Hieslmair

x20150417_HIM78577_himA tiny portion of the 2015 festival grounds. Photo: Martin Hieslmair

x20150417_HIM78547_himThere’ll be no shortage of space! Photo: Martin Hieslmair

x20150417_HIM78551_himBeneath the blue slides. Photo: Martin Hieslmair

Nevertheless, the space isn’t entirely empty. All logistics infrastructure—for instance, the blue letter & parcel slides—is still in place where postal workers left it. September 3-7, 2015, it can be admired by astounded festivalgoers. And, indeed, it didn’t take long for the sound artists among the jurors to start checking out the acoustics of these huge slides and giving some thought to how they could best be played. Within the next few weeks, the Ars Electronica Blog will take a close-up look at this amazing location.

x20150419_HIM98628_himSunday: Time for the running of the Linz Marathon, and Decision Day at Prix Ars Electronica 2015. Photo: Martin Hieslmair

The Home Stretch

Sunday at 4 PM was the deadline for arriving at verdicts and submitting the jointly composed jury statements elaborating on the projects selected for honors. Friday had been dedicated to narrowing down the field of candidates; who got short-listed was determined on Saturday; then, on Sunday, the final details were worked out. Before noon, while thousands of marathon runners were making their grueling way past the Ars Electronica Center, the Prix jurors were approaching their finish line too – some leisurely, with plenty of time to spare; others harried, taking full advantage of the last few minutes before the internal presentation. The home stretch was undoubtedly the most intensive phase of the whole Prix jury weekend.

x20150419_HIM98659_him Jurors just prior to the internal presentation of the prizewinners. Photo: Martin Hieslmair

Where do we go from here?

The 2015 Prix Ars Electronica prizewinners will be announced at a press conference on May 26th. Beginning on September 3, 2015—the opening of this year’s Ars Electronica Festival—their works will be on display in the CyberArts exhibition in the OK Center for Contemporary Art. Festivalgoers are cordially invited to attend the Prix Forums featuring chats among jurors and prizewinners. And in the meantime, the Ars Electronica Blog will be publishing some very interesting interviews we conducted with jurors before and after their deliberation sessions this weekend.