“Device Art” is an art form that merges art, design, technology, science and entertainment. The resulting creations deploy innovative materials and techniques to engender contrivances featuring elaborate, whimsical design conceived to bring us face-to-face with technology’s essence. In “Device Art”, the device itself is the content; its form and appearance are inseparable from its function.

This mode of cultivating objects used on a daily basis and the acts people perform in everyday life has a long tradition in Japan, the country in which “Device Art” emerged. Highly esteeming playfulness is also deeply rooted in Japanese culture. For example, highly sophisticated devices have been developed for use in tea ceremonies or to create floral arrangements. In this spirit, the works in the exhibition at the Ars Electronica Center use new materials and devices to demonstrate surprising possibilities afforded by modern technology. At first glance, fanciful outer surfaces hide the serious concepts underneath. In accordance with Japanese tradition, art ought to be integrated into everyday life; the combination of artwork, plaything, and technical device as “gadget” makes this possible. A few of the pieces of “Device Art” on display here are already available as commercial products. Others will never make it to that point—and weren’t meant to.

The “Device Art” group formed in 2004 around Hiroo Iwata, a scientist associated with the University of Tsukuba, Japan. The “Device Art” project has been financed by the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s CREST—Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology program. Since “Device Art’s” inception, groups of artists pursuing this philosophy have emerged in other countries as well. In addition to works by the Japanese group, the exhibition at the Ars Electronica Center includes works by artists at the University of California, Los Angeles’ ART|SCI Center, and at Kontejner, the Bureau of Contemporary Art Praxis based in Zagreb, Croatia.

The exhibition run from September 3, 2014 to June 21, 2015.