Home Delivery Conference: About Minecraft Universities and Digital Museums

On the Thursday of the festival, the Home Delivery Conference will be dedicated to the cultural aspects of digital space, presenting projects such as the first Minecraft University, the Museum of the Future and a dedicated domain for the art world. This is just one of the numerous thematic focuses in our wide range of conferences, workshops and talks at the Ars Electronica Festival 2020.

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This year, the conferences, lectures and workshop program will largely take place via our online channels. On Saturday, Renata Schmidtkunz and Walter Ötsch will curate and moderate several panels with top-class guests. The Night Keynotes will feature the renowned speakers Neri Oxman, Lynn Hershman Leeson and Joanna Bryson. The Art Thinking Forum is a new platform for discussing the future role of art in relation to top projects in this field. The AI Lab also offers a series of conferences and workshops around the core theme of the European ARTificial Intelligence Lab.

An already well-known format, STARTS Day, offers online lectures, panel discussions and networking sessions on the potential of emerging future innovators, as well as a pre-recorded tour. Other fixed features include the Prix Forum, where Prix Ars Electronica’s prizewinning artists explain their work, and this year’s Expanded Animation Symposium Appeal of the Analog. Last but not least, the Home Delivery Conference will be examining the status quo and future of cultural online content.

This is exactly where we’d like to take a closer look. What may sound dry and theoretical, there are a number of exciting approaches behind it, because not only because of Covid-19 is cultural life moving into digital space. Some of these great approaches, which will be the focus of the Home Delivery Conference, are presented here:

Blockeley: The first Minecraft University

Blockeley is a virtual representation of the university campus Berkeley in the video game Minecraft. In Minecraft, players can build constructions from mostly cube-shaped blocks in a 3D world. This world can be explored, resources can be collected, monsters can be fought and the blocks can be converted into other items.

This digital representation of their campus, which Covid-19 turned into a ghost town from one moment to the next, was created by alumni and students of the University of Berkeley in order not to lose sight of each other, to maintain the community, to give the lockdown a meaning:

“Welcome to Blockeley University, a non-profit organization run by students and alumni whose goal is to create solidarity and meaning among college students and young adults as a result of COVID-19.”

The interest increased constantly, so the initiators, and soon more and more master builders could design over 30 buildings.

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CyberBallet: Theater needs VR and VR needs theater

“We love theater and believe in the narrative power of VR: If VR wants to work, it needs interactivity, a feeling for the omnipresence of the audience, concentration on performers and action. And it needs powerful stories. Theater needs VR. VR needs theater.”

CyberBallet by CyberRäuber is also a project that was created thanks to Covid-19 in its current form. Originally planned as a live VR installation, the venue was moved to the virtual. The result was a performance in front of a live audience that shares the virtual space with its avatars and the performers on a social VR platform.

“Logistically, a lot has changed: Not only did we have to build an entirely new stage and develop a mechanism to conduct the performance in front of a live crowd. We also had to think about how a stage works when the usual theater conventions and learned modi operandi are simply not applicable.”  

Now, after public rehearsals in which both sides have learned the new modi operandi, the work will premiere at the Ars Electronica Festival for the first time in front of an audience.  

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Cultural Places: The Digital Travel Guide

Cultural Places describes itself as an “all-in-one platform” for culture and tourism. Using modern technology, the program allows you to walk digitally instead of with a tour guide through the old town of Vienna, through famous museums and past sights. The target group is the cultural tourists of the 21st century, the means for this is a community-based platform and potential partners are all cultural and tourism businesses and institutions that want to address this target group.

“Cultural Places combines everything that is interesting for cultural travelers before and during their trip: curated online guides, location-based information, travel planning and navigation. At the same time, our innovative platform offers cultural institutions and tourist regions the opportunity to reach thousands of travelers and visitors via smartphone.”

Users can buy individual tours, which are available via app or online. With the tour you get an audio guide that takes you on a journey to real places and reveals their secrets – just like a good travel guide. Not only in COVID-19 times it is an interesting concept to experience culture and related unknown places from the comfort of your sofa.

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Networked Archives: The Digital Archive

In the Networked Archives Panel, renowned media artists as well as organizations and scientists will exhibit their approaches to the digital archiving of media art.

“In a world in which we are increasingly dependent on online content, media art archives and platforms are no exception. The panel Networked Archives will look at their role in the online provision of media art and highlight different approaches in this area.”

Oliver Grau (DE), Dagmar Schink (AT), Christiane Paul (DE/US), Mariano Sardón (AR) and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (MX/CA) will talk about their current projects, moderated by Manuela Naveau (AT). This panel is supported by the Federal Ministry of Art, Culture, Public Service and Sports.

Before the panel discussion, media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer will give a keynote speech. For five years now, he has been working on the development of a procedure to help his studio maintain hundreds of digital works of art in collections around the world.

At the latest after this panel, we will all become aware of the importance of online archives and media art platforms and their accessibility in the future. If you would like to take a closer look at archives during the festival, the online archive of the VALIE EXPORT Center and the STWST is highly recommended.

Cuseum: The Digital Museum

The makers of the “Cuseum” platform are convinced that the museum must reinvent itself in the digital age.

“The way in which visitors experience and learn is developing faster than ever. In these exciting times, shouldn’t the way you engage with them evolve as well? At Cuseum, our mission is to help museums and cultural institutions accelerate visitor engagement through a variety of digital tools”.

Cuseum is an American start-up that develops products such as apps, digital membership cards and an augmented reality platform for museums, public attractions and cultural non-profit organizations. In the AR field, for example, they have created an AR version of Gustav Klimt’s Lebensbaum (Tree of Life) in collaboration with the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK).

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.Art: The Domain of the Art World

Have you already heard of DotArt (.Art)? If not consciously, then at least unconsciously when you visited our site, because Ars Electronica has been using the domain ars.electronica.ART since 2019.

“.art is the digital domain of the art world, free from industrial and geographical constraints. It is a place where artists, institutions, professionals and creative people can register a clear and concise website address and thus mark their affiliation with the art world.”

There are already 75,000 domains assigned worldwide, according to the company. .art’s members range from Peru to Japan and cover even remote corners of the world like Aruba, Nepal and the Faroe Islands, as well as over 150 other countries. Especially museums, galleries, exhibition spaces, art institutions, art collections of companies, artists, craftsmen and other creative people, events in this area as well as all passions and interests that are related to art in the broadest sense.

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IZNEO: Online Comics on Demand 

Newspapers are moving to digital, books are consumed via e-readers and reading in general is shifting from the printed sheet to the screen. But what about comics? This is where IZNEO comes in, which sees itself as the first official and legal online comic reading service. Launched in 2010 by several major French comic book publishers. The izneo catalog, which includes approximately 55,000 comics from 250 publishers, is open to all comic genres and is updated every month with new albums. The service is available not only for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, but also for game consoles such as Nintendo Switch. IZNEO’s declared goal:

“IZNEO’s mission is to broaden the readership of digital graphic stories and provide access to the largest catalog at any time, any place and on any device.”

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You can discover more interesting projects at the Home Delivery Conference at the Ars Electronica Festival on Thursday, September 10. You can find our complete conference program at: https://ars.electronica.art/keplersgardens/conferences-lectures-talks/