Swiss Artworks in the Spotlight

Prelude-for-Rational-Freshness, credit: Christoffer-Joergensen, Prelude-for-Rational-Freshness, credit: Christoffer-Joergensen

Swiss art on Austrian grounds amid the inspiring ambience of an international festival – that’s what you can experience during this year’s Ars Electronica Festival. 2023 the focus will lie, among other things, on the representation of Swiss artists among the festival contributions, who offer a fascinating and unique perspective on contemporary themes and challenges. This special Focus could be realized due to the support by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia. The diverse works provide an exciting opportunity to experience and explore the intersection of creativity and innovation.

The Swiss focus is particularly evident in four areas: the ArTS Production Grant, Visual Arts, Music/Performance and a Swiss Delegation. Within the framework of the first central point, the ArTS Production Grant for Swiss artists, developed by Ars Electronica and supported by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, the work BROOD (The Second Body) by Dorota Gaweda and Eglė Kulbokaitė was selected. In the form of a multi-channel video installation, BROOD combines various elements: from scenes shot on location to staged green-screen footage and CGI to algorithmically generated sequences and found footage. It is particularly compelling for its innovative approach that pushes the boundaries of media art and bridges the gap between art and science, making it a perfect addition to the Ars Electronica Festival. BROOD explores the integral strangeness of the world and investigates the interactions and processes between fundamental particles of nature and a brood of spirits of folk belief – not just metaphorically, but as processes that have the potential to reshape our world. Together with numerous other works BROOD can be visited as part of the theme exhibition.

BROOD (The Second Body), credit: Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė

Another area supported by Pro Helvetia in which the Swiss focus is evident during the festival is Visual Arts through the presentation of curated works by Swiss artists as part of the theme exhibition. On the one hand, three artists have been selected whose works will be part of the theme exhibition during the 2023 Ars Electronica Festival and who will also be on site in person during the festival in Linz.

One of them is Michel Winterberg with his work Melting – the show must go on!. The artist, who often works with interactive video and sound installations, mixed media and animatronic elements, addresses the enormous energy consumption of computers and servers worldwide with his installation. In this intriguing project, computer cooling components are repurposed to create ice on a metal plate, which then melts suddenly. A video captures this nature-like event, accompanied by immersive soundscapes generated by the device’s electromagnetic emissions, creating a unique sensory experience.

Infrastructure of a Migratory Bird, created by Vladan Joler, Felix Stalder and Gordan Savicic is another Swiss project that will be exhibited during the festival. It consists of a map that examines the man-made environment that has been created so that the Northern Bald Ibis can once again live as a wild animal in Europe. It shows the relationships between social, technological, informational and ecological elements that make up such an anthropogenic ecosystem.

Infrastructure of a Migratory Bird, credit: Katerina Sedy

Likewise, visitors can look forward to Uperqt by Cod.act. Some may even remember Cod.act from one of their legendary contributions to past festivals – such as πTon or Nyloïd. Uperqt is an installation that combines robotics, lighting effects and sound to create a dynamic environment in which tube-shaped entities interact with each other in a fight.

On the other hand, a fourth work was awarded an Honorary Mention in the AI&Life Art category and will be shown as part of the Prix Ars Electronica Exhibition: SHIFT by Geraldine Honauer. SHIFT is a thought-provoking work that explores the economics of labor and the increasing commodification of the virtual world. Using blockchain technology and smart contracts, the SHIFT platform enables the rental of digital workwear as wearables in virtual worlds. It explores the value of labor and labor power, reflecting on the complex interactions within the art market and the impact of cryptocurrencies on the economics of real and digital goods. In doing so, SHIFT offers a reflected perspective on the changing relationship between the physical and digital worlds.

In the area of music and performance, also a Pro Helvetia support area, the festival invites Swiss artists to perform at the Festival Opening and Nightline. One of the highlights is Luc Gut and Rolf Hellat’s OSZILOT, which was awarded an Honorary Mention in the Prix Ars Electronica, category Digital Musics & Sound Art. OSZILOT is a hybrid of sound installation and performance: via motion sensors, everyday objects suspended from strings become sound objects. In a unique and intuitive live performance, the physical world can thus be combined with digital sound synthesis. Performances will take place both at the opening, which will kick off the Festival on Wednesday, 06.09.2023, at 19:30, and during the following festival days, whereby the audience is also invited to play the objects after the performance.

In addition, Jessiquoi, Noémi Büchi and Soraya Lutangu will contribute to a vibrant Swiss presence as part of Nightline on Friday, 08.09.2023, starting at 23:00, in the Gleishalle of the POSTCITY:

Jessiquoi is an Australian-Swiss producer, composer and performer. She combines raw, physical energy and danceable beats with rap and sonorous vocals. In 2023 she published a new collection of songs, which she also presents during the Ars Electronica Festival in an unexpected and thrilling live show. It takes you to a futuristic setting of Neo-Shanghai in 2187, where Jessiquoi, instead of selling her uncle’s noodles, is secretly a talented beatmaker who throws electrifying street parties at night.

takingcareofgod, sbl

Complementing the artistic performances, a Swiss delegation consisting of 10 curators and cultural experts will take part in the festival. Through guided tours, get-togethers with artists and cultural professionals at networking events and a deep dive into the festival program with its many facets, they will offer valuable insights into the diversity of Swiss creativity and thus represent the fourth pillar of the Swiss focus during the Ars Electronica Festival 2023.

All of the above-mentioned projects can be experienced during the Ars Electronica Festival 2023 in Linz. You can find the Festival highlights here and Details will be published online on an ongoing basis.

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