Portrait of a Generative Memory_Indiara Di Benedetto_2000x1000, Portrait of a Generative Memory, Indiara Di Benedetto

Whatever they may be, they’re all welcome on the Campus of the University of Art and Design Linz for the Ars Electronica Festival 2020! For THE WILD STATE not only refers to an untamed territory where many things can happen and be tested, it is also a description of the state of the impulsive unknown, the resilient, the random. It is like a natural garden or in the wilderness, where something grows, develops and blooms without being planned, controlled or cultivated.

In the very special year of 2020, the Kunstuni Campus confronted the participants with completely new tasks; financially, organizationally and artistically. But these challenges are also an opportunity, at least for the THE WILD STATE program team consisting of Christa Sommerer, Manuela Naveau, Julia Nüßlein, Sylvia Leitner and Davide Bevilacqua. We will introduce you to history, formats and projects.

The Wild State, Foto: Nicolas Naveau

Every year, the University of Art and Design Linz plays an important role in the overall activities of the Ars Electronica Festival. That should be the case in 2020 as well, since the new rectorate was headed by Brigitte Hütter – but it was made much more difficult by the lockdown in mid-March. From one day to the next, life as a whole was reduced to a minimum-and hit the young students and artists particularly hard. They fell out of all pots and had no prospect of summer jobs. Some of them had just arrived for a summer semester and had no network at all.

And so Christa Sommerer and Manuela Naveau met for a talk in Sommerer’s garden to create a vision in their heads. It quickly became clear how necessary it was for the art university to be involved, both to give the students an opportunity to present themselves and to work on this. The topic was soon decided upon, and was very well appreciated by the students. How much is cultivated, how much may develop without pruning, where may everything grow as it wants. This form of process is questioned in THE WILD STATE and is the tenor behind all activities.

Interfaces Cultures: The State of Intimacy

The status of intimacy, which is questioned in this exhibition, is at the same time a state of emergency. The students let us take a look behind the scenes, how they experienced and survived the lockdown and what questions they were concerned with, limited to an online existence.
Some students draw us into their intimate privacy as if we were directly in the scene, while others are keen to keep us out. But all of them ask about our privacy – as physical persons and as online beings. What impact do these restrictions have on our private lives? How vulnerable are we online? What does social distance do to democracy? The exhibition was curated by Fabricio Lamoncha Martinez.

In between Privacy, Jaskaran Anand, Stefan Fuchs, Foto: Jaskaran Anand, Stefan Fuchs

The Wild State: Networked

Even though circumstances prevented the presentation of a partner university in 2020, a call was sent instead to existing and possible future partner universities to exhibit the best work of students on the topic of Covid-19. 13 universities have participated and around 30 works will be exhibited. The exhibition is curated and produced by Julia Nüßlein and Davide Bevilacqua. There are students who come to the festival and those who send the work, there are video and sound works, interactive installations, architectural interventions and much more.

Uncanny Friends

A special cooperation partner 2020 is the Department of Media Theory at the University of Art and Design Linz. Gloria Meynen, head of the department, put together the symposium “Uncanny Friends” – a theme all about fear and suspicion of our online identities, the would-be friends like Siri or Alexa and the body and surveillance cameras that constantly accompany us. What does artificial intelligence do with us? And how justified is the fear of the machines becoming too similar to us? Do they become similar to us?
Keynotes come from Lynn Hershman Leeson, Thomas Macho and Janina Loh. This exciting symposium will take place at the Kunstuni and will be streamed at the same time, as will some of the exhibition tours – thus involving the community, even if they can’t be on site. In addition, special network meetings with students and artists from the exhibition will take place.

Sound Campus

A new format is the Sound Campus, compiled by Enrique Tomás. Here experimental sound practices and their research status at universities are examined. Students and researchers are to present the Ars Electronica Festival audience a new understanding of sound art-from uncomfortable performances to intrusive melodies, the critical present resonates here.
From Thursday through Saturday, the program will run until 11 p.m. and can be experienced live and streamed simultaneously.

A distributed location performance, AWNJS All Women’s Networked Jam Session, Foto: AWNJS – All Womens Networked Jam Session

Agora Digitalis

The meeting point of the Campus Exhibition 2020 is the Agora Digitalis (curated by Anne Nigten and Carla Zamora) – an informal setting, a physical and virtual place for discourse. Here you can talk about performances, exhibitions, talks and discussions with participants from the art university, professors, teachers, etc. Anyone can present and contribute their ideas, critically question them, throw utopias into the discussion and of course reflect on recent events. For this purpose, there are predetermined times, but there are also “Bring your own Art” slots where works not previously determined can be presented.

Interfacing Hauptplatz

The Hauptplatz Linz is the city center and that is where the main building of the University of Art is located. And so the facade of the address Hauptplatz 8 is transformed into a virtual window to the whole world. With “The Transient Shadows”, the artist duo DEPART covers the plague column with fog and light from Thursday to Saturday – it is no coincidence that the sign of the plague epidemic of the 18th century finds its way into our pandemic topicality here. In 10-minute flash performances, the main square presents itself in a very impressive way before “Antopolis” by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau transforms the people on the main square into busy scurrying ants.

Antopolis, Laurent Mignonneau, Christa Sommerer, Foto: Laurent Mignonneau, Christa Sommerer

Never before have various departments of the Art University of Linz been so extensively involved in an Ars Electronica Festival: Fashion & Technology, Art Education, Design: Technology, Textiles, Visual Communication, but also cross-departmental projects such as the telematic improvisation workshop “Latency Now” or the Yami-Ichi Internet flea market are all represented at Hauptplatz 8.

Here we are again at the WILD STATE. All these topics, projects and formats form an open, experimental forum with a mixture of planned and unplanned events. It is the attempt of a wild growth, the attempt to make a festival happen and to create a festival feeling. Of course, the possibilities are limited, but it is precisely in such an open, experimental setting that the most unusual things are created. We are curious!

You can read more about the Ars Electronica Festival on this website, moreover, under the motto “Inside Festival” we have exciting new video contributions from all over the world for you every week, and on our social media channels we’re also constantly giving outlooks and insights into what to expect this year.

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