Throughout its history, Ars Electronica has been continuously working to build a vital community. Over the years, it has expanded into an extensive network of artists, activists, scientists, institutions, policy makers, and other interested parties. With the introduction of the hybrid festival in 2020, we took the next step in exploring the possibilities of online tools for community building. Still, it is our endeavor to anchor the online component in the real world, so as to find the true potential in bringing together the digital and physical realms. This is why this year we decided to find possibilities to strengthen the community of the hybrid festival even more by getting creative ourselves. It quickly became an internal mission of the team to find projects expressing the networks’ versatility and connectedness. Our efforts resulted in “Community Love Projects”, a concept that intends to bring together partner gardens from all over the world in different events.
As last year, the festival is being staged in a hybrid fashion. While the team in Linz is preparing a festival in the “traditional” sense, hundreds of partners in Ars Electronica’s international garden network are also joining forces synchronously and in parallel to create the “Symphony of Absence”. This title stands for a very special place in Kepler’s garden in Linz: the Keplerhall. It is dedicated exclusively to the contributions and programs of all those partners who run their own festival gardens and are unable to come to Linz. A place that will be shaped by hundreds of music stands and empty chairs, as if the musicians of an orchestra were on break and the sheet music might transform into living telematic windows into the world of the festival network. Each individual orchestra seat evokes the wonderful cultural diversity of this community that has such a formative impact on the transformation of our city during the festival. All together, they form a symphonic kaleidoscope of people worldwide with a similar attitude, who see themselves as global citizens and convey a common worldview that is nourished by our diversity and formed collectively.