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On four wheels into the future?

BMW, Supersense and Ars Electronica Futurelab focused on the automobile in the midst of the climate and energy crisis.

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For decades, it was the symbol of freedom, joy of life and prosperity. It has shaped the attitude to life of generations and changed the face of our cities – we are talking about the car. Around 100 years after its triumphal march began, however, the car is now increasingly becoming the focus of a debate that is as broad as it is intense: What role should it play in a future in which we have to massively reduce our ecological footprint? And even more fundamentally, what forms of mobility does such a sustainable future actually need?

Getting out of the comfort zone …

“Welcome to Planet B. A different life is possible – but how” was the title of Ars Electronica 2022, and BMW, the Viennese experimental lab Supersense, sociologist Bernhard Böhm and the Ars Electronica Futurelab took the opportunity to put the mobility of the future on the table. Not with the usual suspects from their own spheres of influence, not in a research lab, in the context of a science conference or auto show no, right in the epicenter of an art and culture festival like Ars Electronica, a specially designed “Transformation Lounge” was to become a forum and laboratory in which people from very different walks of life, industries, disciplines, cultures, countries and generations sketch out their ideas about mobility. “If you use the eternally same formats and discuss the eternally same questions with the eternally same people, you’ll get stuck in the eternally same,” says Horst Hörtner, Managing Director of the Ars Electronica Futurelab. “If you want new answers, on the other hand, you have to get out of your comfort zone and venture into other, unfamiliar spheres. That’s exactly what BMW has done.”

… and up on the couch in the Transformation Lounge

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The “Transformation Lounge” designed with Supersense was something new. Not an exhibition, but a place for discourse. Here it was not about the usual, already somewhat outdated polishing up of one’s own image, but about a different, a new way of communicating and conveying that change which is simply pending. That’s why the “Transformation Lounge” didn’t deal with the latter in a global and correspondingly noncommittal way, but rather with a very concrete example: Ars Electronica itself. The festival, it putted itself up for discussion here. What exactly is on Ars Electronica’s sustainability agenda was discussed, what demands it will have to meet in the future, and what partners it will be working with to try to get there. In the process, not only progress were discussed – as is usually the case – but above all those things that are still failing at the moment, and why.