This was the anniversary festival!

40 years of Ars Electronica - of course it was a birthday party, as well as a meeting of pioneers and companions, remembering and looking ahead, gathering and exchanging impressions. The festival "Out of the Box - The Midlife Crisis of the Digital Revolution" was successful in every respect and set several records.

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5 days, 16 locations, 501 exhibits, 548 individual events, 1,449 artists and scientists from 45 countries, 110,000 visitors. One last time, the former post distribution center POSTCITY was the festival center, and with its size and new spaces discovered every year, it offered the perfect location for the Ars Electronica. Let’s take a closer look!

The basic question of the festival was dedicated to the future interaction between humans and intelligent machines and the question of what this will mean for our self-conception and world view, for our society and our life. But one after the other…

Credit: Ars Electronica / Martin Hieslmair

Shortly before the opening it is still very quiet in the POSTCITY. The last steps are done, everything is adjusted and off you go!

Credit: vog.photo

Already on Wednesday, September 4th the first exhibitions will be opened – for example here in St. Mary’s Cathedral. The setting adds this touch of reverence, which makes you shudder comfortably. “Unleash” is a branch of the now established format “Gallery Spaces“, which deals with questions about the digital art market and also invites discussions about it.

KHIPU, Credit: vog.photo

In addition to St. Mary’s Cathedral, the Gallery Spaces can also be seen in the Salzamt, but above all in the POSTCITY. Here “KHIPU” by Constanza Piña.

Credit: Tom Mesic

Meanwhile, the opening of the exhibition “ARS and the CITY” took place in the LENTOS Kunstmuseum, a show of the most legendary projects from 40 years. Of course the pioneers could not be missing – here from left to right Hannes Leopoldseder, Walter Haupt and Siegbert Janko.

Credit: Tom Mesic

An impression of the exhibition at the LENTOS.

Credit: vog.photo

The exhibition “ARS on the WIRE” also belongs to the theme cluster 40 Years. On the rooftop of POSTCITY it pays homage to various initiatives around net art of the last decades. The picture shows the project with the resounding name “It all started with Cassette Culture” with the long-time Ars Electronica companion and friend Wolfgang Dorninger.

Credit: vog.photo

Thursday at 10 am, when all the locations opened their doors, there was a sudden buzz at the POSTCITY info counters.

Credit: Philipp Greindl

That’s why we’re heading to the Conference Hall for the History Summit. There, Ars Electronica’s companions and pioneers reviewed the past 40 years and also told some stories.

Credit: Jürgen Grünwald

At the same time, the prizes of the young category were awarded in a very special setting: CREATE YOUR WORLD honors the best and most creative young talents. Every year, the jury is amazed at the fireworks of ideas that come together when the entries are submitted.

Credit: vog.photo

In the shallows of the POSTCITY, the bunker, you can find the thematic exhibition “Human Limitations – Limited Humanity“. The interplay of media art and location almost makes you shudder. The work of the Japanese collective AnotherFarm, who create art works from “glowing silk”, is illuminating in many respects. Here “Modified Paradise: Dress” – in the Ars Electronica Center you can find a glowing rooster!

Cryptid, Credit: vog.photo

“Cryptid” by Michael Candy can also be found in the bunker.

Lasermice, Credit: vog.photo

Or “Lasermice” by So Kanno.

Credit: Tom Mesic

Meanwhile, the Ars Electronica Center will host a prominent visitor – Federal Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein and Education Minister Iris Rauskala will be guided through the exhibitions.

(v.l.n.r.) Director Andreas Bauer, Education Minister Iris Rauskala, Federal Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein, Financial Director Diethard Schwarzmair, Credit: Tom Mesic

The tardigrade Tardi and its adventures in the Ars Electronica Center seem to inspire the members of the government. Or the explanations?

Credit: Jürgen Grünwald

In the evening, the Chancellor gives a speech at the Ars Electronica Gala. There, all prizes of the Prix Ars Electronica are awarded.

Credit: Jürgen Grünwald

Sure all winners make themselves available together for a photo.

A-Mint, Alex Braga, Credit: Philipp Greindl

The gala went directly into the acts of Nightline, with which the festival opens in 2019. Everyone is in a festive mood and enjoys Nightline with a varied programme.

Credit: Philipp Greindl

Friday is all about innovation – at the GET.Inspired format, interested parties from the fields of art, design, science and development will meet up with start-ups and companies to exchange ideas.

Anatomy of an AI System, Vladan Joler & Kate Crawford, Credit: Jürgen Grünwald

The STARTS Prize, an initiative of the EU Commission, is about the interdisciplinary approach. Science, technology and art are the credo here. Friday was STARTS Day for the second time, where interdisciplinarity is expressed in discussions and presentations. An exciting project from the field of Honorary Mentions is “Anatomy of an AI System”, which represents the entire production cycle of a Smart Home Assistant – including human work, rare raw materials and data processing.

Credit: Philipp Greindl

We continue to the main conference on the festival theme: Midlife Crisis of the Digital Revolution. The conference will focus on current and future perspectives of our increasingly digital world. Art and creativity have always been regarded as important impulses to ensure that future technological implementations take into account enlightened, critical and qualified perspectives. The picture shows Hermann Vaske.

Credit: vog.photo

At 13:15 it suddenly becomes quiet in the POSTCITY. The whole festival pauses, visitors look around questioningly. Young people “storm” the theme conference. It is the young activists of Fridays for Future who are fighting against the Climate Shutdown.

Credit: Tom Mesic

The interruption of the festival is a call to action. The activists and festival visitors will leave directly from the festival grounds to kick off the demonstrations in the 2019/20 school year. The walk leads from the inner courtyard of the POSTCITY to the Volksgarten.

CyberArts, Muted Situation, Samson Young, Credit: vog.photo

Change of scenery. The CyberArts exhibition at the OK in Upper Austria’s cultural district traditionally features the best works from over 3000 submissions to the Prix Ars Electronica.

CyberArts, Human Study, Patrick Tresset, Credit: Tom Mesic

Credit: Tom Mesic

In the evening we head back to POSTCITY, where we will invite one last time to the train hall. The traditional Big Concert Night, a cooperation with the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, has a very special theme this year.

Credit: Tom Mesic

Under the title “Mahler Unfinished” you are invited to listen to the last, the unfinished, the 10th Symphony of Gustav Mahler. In the picture conductor Markus Poschner with the Bruckner Orchestra Linz.

Credit: Tom Mesic

Not all musical parts are created by human hands – one part was accomplished by an artificial intelligence.

Credit: Tom Mesic

Spectacular pictures, wild dances with robots – this artistic evening with industrial chic will probably remain in your memory for a long time to come.

Nightline, Babii, Credit: Jürgen Grünwald

During the subsequent Nightline, rhythmic beats and glowing images can be admired.

Credit: Philipp Greindl

Saturday starts with talks, colourful hustle and bustle and many people big and small who want to go to POSTCITY. For example to the curious internet black market Yami-Ichi.

Credit: Tom Mesic

Or to the organic farmers’ market – BIO Bauernmarkt – which takes place here every year and invites you to enjoy culinary delights.

Credit: Philipp Greindl

Also very exciting is the ZusammenHelfen conference, an event for joint help for refugees in Upper Austria. The conference on the topic “Day of Encouragement” looks positively into the future full of energy. Patrons are actor Michael Ostrowski and integration councillor Rudi Anschober.

Credit: Jürgen Grünwald

Further back we come across the BR41N.IO Hackathon. This format brings together clever minds from different disciplines to think unusual ideas and create prototypes. The status at the end of the given time is presented.

Credit: Philipp Greindl

The area of CREATE YOUR WORLD is used for screwing, laughing, testing, inventing and discovering.

FM4 Spielekammerl, Credit: Philipp Greindl

The question of how the future should be shaped and how this can be achieved is posed to big and small people and they all find great answers.

Credit: Orogenesis, Rupert Huber, vog.photo

The highlight of the day, however, will be the “AI x Music Festival“, which takes place for the first time in the sacred rooms of the St. Florian canons’ monastery.

Credit: Tom Mesic

The opening is celebrated by none other than Hermann Nitsch: with the organ concert Organ Recital.

Credit: vog.photo

“Heavy Requiem” makes it possible to experience a unique collaborative performance of integrated electronic and traditional Buddhist music.

Credit: Tom Mesic

Guided tours through scientific greats such as Siegfried Zielinski are used to deal with one main topic at a time – with short texts, experimental sounds and dialogues. Title of the event: “Walking Lectures / Calculated Sensations”.

Credit: Tom Mesic

The crypt of the St. Florian monastery was also involved. Here Interactions II by Martina Claussen.

Credit: Christoph Thorwart, Subtext.at

As every year, Saturday evening is reserved for the Klangwolke – 2019 already for the 40th time!

Credit: Tom Mesic

At the following OK Nightline there is a cheerful atmosphere.

Credit: vog.photo

Sunday is all about a European identity in the coming digital developments – the second part of the conference is called “European Platform for Digital Humanism“. On this occasion, we are honoured by a high-ranking visitor: Federal President Alexander van der Bellen and EU Commissioner Roberto Viola take a tour through the exhibition.

Credit: vog.photo
He also meets the activists of Fridays for Future.

Credit: Magdalena Sick-Leitner

Of course, there are also many exciting things to discover in the recently redesigned Ars Electronica Center.

Credit: vog.photo

In Deep Space, powerful visual worlds are created.

Credit: Magdalena Sick-Leitner

In terms of content, of course – as here in the exhibition “Understanding AI” – everything revolves around the predominant theme of our time: Artificial Intelligence.

Credit: Jürgen Grünwald

The weather could be better, but still enough loyal fans and festival visitors get lost on the Danube lands in the evening. The “Episode am Fluss” is a very special reminiscence of the past, as it all began 40 years ago right here, with the first cloud of sound in 1979.

Credit: Jürgen Grünwald

Cao Thanh Lan and Gregor Siedl combine image and sound in “Radio Cloud”, an installation based on a real-time and site-specific feedback cycle.

Credit: vog.photo

The last day has begun – and with it the traditional Music Monday. During the Music Parcours, the audience walks through all kinds of listening rooms, guided by expert experts.

Credit: Tom Mesic

At the annual press conference, the impressive figures of the Ars Electronica Festival 2019 will be announced, as well as the cooperation for 2020. JKU Linz will make its premises available.

Credit: Tom Mesic

In the evening we will go to a last concert in the POSTCITY’s train hall. In “Pianographique – Piano Music meets Digital Images” Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies meet visual artist Cori O’Lan again.

Credit: Tom Mesic

Stravinsky’s Firebird is played here with four hands, a truly worthy finale to the 2019 anniversary festival. And so the entire Ars Electronica team says “Thank you” for a great festival and wonderful memories of POSTCITY.

Now it’s time to look back on a great Ars Electronica Festival 2019 – and look forward to the next…