Opening Day: Highlights and Insights

The first day of the Ars Electronica Festival awaits you with exciting performances and lots of art, technology and new inspirations.

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The Ars Electronica Festival 2022 is getting closer and closer. Five days and a packed program. So where to start? We’ll provide you with the highlights of the festival and insider tips that you can’t afford to miss.

The Opening Day – as the name suggests – kicks off the festival and thus all exhibitions on Wednesday, 07.09.2022. In Kepler’s Gardens at the Johannes Kepler University, opened from 13:00 – 19:00, the theme exhibition STUDIO(dys)TOPIA – At the Peak of Humankind invites visitors to wonder, explore and reflect. For example, the project Echinoidea Future – Adriatic Sensing, Feral Automated System deals with the conditions in the environment of sea urchins polluted by anthropogenic liquid waste. This demonstrates stress factors of the local and global human footprint, but also the resilience of aquatic species. Among many other exciting projects – whose common goal it is to explore how we can implement sustainable principles and what role art may play in the “But How” of the festival motto – Feral Automated System: ULTB-1 also pursues an extraordinary idea: plants are to gain energy to sustain the system by accumulating toxins, thus reconstructing the communist idea of a common link between different species.

Not far from the theme exhibition in the so-called Transformation Lounge, the workshop of the day will take place from 15:00-16:00. The Transformation Lounge is designed to be a place for discussion, where aspects previously elaborated at the Festival University will be further developed in public. Thematically, it deals both practically and theoretically with processes of transformation and makes them tangible in various prototypes and methods. Brave new commons is the name of Masaki Fujihata’s workshop, which was even awarded Honorary Mention of the Prix Ars Electronica for Interactive Art and deals with NFTs and new ways of ownership. For those who don’t want to miss this experience, please register here. The workshops are only open to Festival Pass or One-Day Pass holders.

Brave New Commons; credits: Masaki Fujihata

Right beside the Transformation Lounge, in front of the JKU Learning Center, you will find the Festival University Stage. Exciting performances, concerts and events take place here every day. Our insider tip for the Opening Day on Wednesday is the performances This Land Is Not Mine by Kat Austen, 16:10-17:30. It explores the changing identity of the ecosystem, land, and people of Lusatia, a region where Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic meet, a region of coexisting cultures undergoing fundamental change as mining comes to an end.

More interested in Artificial Intelligence? SH4D0W – An AI Performance in 3D is the first performing arts production starring an artificial intelligence creation as the protagonist. The piece will be performed in Kepler Hall, in the 4D Box, a theatre stage capable of creating mixed-reality illusions of virtual 3D objects interacting with live performers. Performances will take place from 15:00-16:00 and from 17:30-18:30. The performance focuses on the encounter of the human with it’s virtual shadow, the data-driven artificial intelligences that surround us.

Finally, before we leave the JKU campus, we would like to briefly mention the numerous other exhibitions that will open their doors for the first time on Wednesday:

In the Sound Park right next to Kepler Hall, among others, Bill Fontana’s installation Silent Echoes makes the vibrations of Notre Dame’s bells audible, which they emit in response to their surroundings even when they are not actively ringing.

The exhibition of the Linz Institute of Technology (LIT) in the Learning Center of the JKU once again aims to network science, culture and society, a necessity when it comes to change. The STARTS initiative has been promoting networking throughout Europe for years. This year, the STARTS Prize Exhibition with contributions such as Holly+ by Holly Herndon can be found in the Uni-Center of the JKU.

Right nearby, the CyberArts Exhibition presents the works of this year’s Prix winners. Here you can be amazed by projects like the Avatar Robot Cafe DAWN ver.β by Ory Yoshifuji and many more. This year’s focus – especially if you consider the u19 category – is a reflection of reality and the recognition of possible consequences that the crises of our time might have, especially on young people. The Golden Nica in the u19 category went to Mary Mayrhofer’s project Die schwarze Decke (The Black Blanket), with which she deals with her psychological problems. Support for this topic is offered thanks to the cooperation with EXIT-sozial, whose team is available for conversations and guided tours.

Just a few steps away, the approximately 20 projects of create your world invite visitors to experiment: among others, the Openlab of Energiewende Linz or Excape Fake, which addresses the issue of dealing with deep fakes and fake news.

Open Lab Energiewende Linz, credits: Martin Siedler

Just like every year, this year’s festival will again feature locations spread all over Linz that will host various exhibitions and events. This year, for example, the University of Art and Design Linz is hosting an exhibition with the theme Von Schwarzen Schwänen… (Of Black Swans…). On Opening Day, you can also experience the performance Ballet Metanique right there on campus. This contribution of the Garden Seoul: K-ARTS Art and Technology Lab is a reinterpretation of ballet with the social and technical apparatus of the metaverse in the age of global warming. The piece will be performed five times at the University of Art and Design Linz, Hauptplatz 8: from 14:00 – 14:20; 16:00 – 16:20; 17:00 – 7:20; 18:00 – 18:20; 19:00 – 19:20.

Ballet Metanique; credits: Jaehyun Hwang

In addition to the exhibitions opened daily, the Ars Electronica Center will also host the Animation Festival Screening on the Wednesday of the Ars Electronica Festival. In addition, another special program element of the Opening Day will start at 14:15 in the foyer of the Center: the Futurelab Guided Tour, which will be held in English.

More interested in moving through digital landscapes? Deep Space 8K offers that opportunity. On Opening Day from 17:00 – 17:15., un ctrl, a contribution from create your world, lets music, body and space interact in a live improvisation and through collaborative devices with hierarchies. Daniel, a musician, Cat, a dancer and Martin, a visual artist play and interact with each other: from play to jam to competition for control. To uncontrollability – un ctrl.

However, the presented projects merely constitute a small part of the festival’s program. You’ll soon find more information and recommendations for the other festival days here on the blog or on the official website of the Ars Electronica Festival 2022.