In the exhibition IN TRANSFER – A New Condition, Ars Electronica present artists operating where art, technology and society intersect, artists who are always in places where transformation is happening. One part of the exhibition was dedicated to Artist Portraits, an area that allowed the artists to share some of their thoughts, practices, encounters, and collaborations that led to where they are today.
Artists often follow the deeply human trait of curiosity, which leads them across different educations, disciplines, and many other areas of life. Having an open mind and ear for a wide range of people, be they activists, scientists, journalists, or any other group of interest, is key here. The manifold collaborative efforts, which made the artworks in this exhibition possible, are solid proof. Still, rather than “just seeing” the result, it is interesting to learn more about the people behind the artworks.
Here you find a collection of their answers to the question what hopes (and potentially also concerns) they have about the today and the future and what role they see art play in it.
Adriana Knouf (US)
“For me, I really think that art is a place where we can try out new possibilities of living and existing here on Earth right now, but also in the future. So, for me, artistic practice is always related to this ability to try things out, to engage with technology in new ways to sort of transforming existing technologies in ways that their designers perhaps did not intend, or the scientists did not intend. I see artists as the people who can ask the questions that scientists or engineers or technologists are not able to answer because of their existence within sort of a capitalist system. And so, as artists, we can try and explore these possibilities and, you know, maybe use them to develop new ways of living here on Earth and test these things out practically through the artworks that we make.”
Agnes Meyer-Brandis (DE)
“I think art should not play a role or should not carry a message. However, art is part of our society in the world we live in. And of course, it adds to it. It can do everything or nothing, but it shouldn’t play a role. I’m aware, and I’m concerned about climate change of course. And yeah, humans, our selfishness comes along with all these various challenges. And me, as a person who happens to be an artist, of course, by nature, or naturally, my art also deals with these concerns or fears and hopes.”
Anastasia Pistofidou (ES)
part of Remix EcoDesign
“Well, I think art has always been the fourth runner and the Trojan horse when it comes to implementing new technologies into our everyday lives. And overcoming the technological difficulties, because of an artist’s crazy idea has also helped in finding solutions and implementing technologies into the industry afterwards. Through the work of Remix EcoDesign Collective we try to promote and to think of alternative business models that can be open source, that are about sharing knowledge advancing together rather than competing. So, one aspect is this. And then the other aspect in terms of design is that we want to embed the concept of time into the design not only looking into the form or the material, or the economy and the user experience, but also what about how it grows, how it becomes old, how time influences the product, and what happens in the afterlife of that. These are the things that we are going to tackle, and we are tackling in our futuristic perspective, but it’s not so futuristic. It’s going to happen very soon.”
Hiroshi Chigira (JP)
part of h.o
“One thing I thought about is that so many things changed since the first time we exhibited What A Ghost Dreams Of in 2019. Change is, you know, inevitable, sometimes good sometimes not so much. I think it is important that we learn how we can live with ongoing change and adaption. Creativity and art can help us in this learning process, and I think that is the real power of what we as artists can do.”
John Brumley (US)
part of h.o
“There are a lot of things to be worried about. There are a lot of problems and there are many directions that people can go in terms of concern. In some ways, it can actually be stifling, and preventing people from even having any action. Part of the work that I’m doing and part of what I’d like to be doing, is to make technologies seem more approachable, make them seem less daunting in terms of consideration. So not just saying, “Well, I don’t know how to use this,” but also thinking more from the standpoint of, “Can I critique this? Can I approach it and decide for myself? Is this worthwhile? Is this beneficial to me versus society or to the world at large?” I would really like to provide tools for people to become more savvy and more engage with technology in this way.”
“Right now, I have more personal concerns because of events happening this year in the world. They impacted me… they impacted me also deeply on a personal level. And sometimes I’m not sure if I have enough strength to carry on and this is my concern. But my hope is that I will have enough strength, that I find strength within myself and the support from the earth.”
Simon Weckert (DE)
“Wow, big question. I think especially working as a media artist, my biggest aim is to somehow give an audience or let’s say, people, who are not so familiar with technology, a window to understand this black box of technology. For me it is important to think about my audience and about how I can tell a story that is understandable. And when I look into the future and how this is developing, I think, it’s very important to question the tools we use every day. This is something that I see much more monopolized in a way that we have big companies that basically define these tools. As an artist the challenge is about how to hack them and how to use them in a way that they’re not meant to be.”
Špela Petrič (SI)
“For the future, I really hope that the technology that we currently have, and use gets examined and puts towards different uses. The goal is to have more people consider not just blindly using technology but consider what are the side effects of using it, where does technology exactly come from, and how we can actually very conscientiously and consciously use it towards different means. And so, I think the art that I’m working on is also imagining or practically engaging with these different types of futures.”