Ars Electronica passengerARTspace

(July 1 – August 28, 2011 / Vienna International Airport)

Media art at Vienna Airport—hidden art installations surprise passengers on their way to their departure gate or while they’re waiting in lounge areas or security zones.

Fresh, funny and wonderfully entertaining for young and old alike—the Reface project by American art group Tmema (Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman) is installed in Waiting Area D. A video camera takes snapshots of waiting passengers’ faces. The images are divided into three parts—forehead, eyes, and mouth area—then mixed and reassembled. The result is a virtually infinite number of potential combinations and the possibility of creating truly international faces with features contributed by people in all different age groups and from across the ethnic spectrum.

Innocence is a project that spotlights passengers walking through corridors on their way to Departure Gates C and D. A camera captures these people on the go, who then see themselves in real time on the installation’s monitors amidst a fairy-tale landscape. Depending on how fast these people in transit are walking, they churn up (more or fewer) fallen leaves, and either scare the animals or cause them to come closer. Then it suddenly starts to rain. A light sprinkling quickly becomes a cloudburst and turns the place into one big puddle. Now, each step the passenger takes launches waves that are propagated in concentric circles throughout the corridor. Innocence is a creation of the Ars Electronica Futurelab.

Vienna Airport is also presenting the Ars Electronica Futurelab’s Shadowgram project as a special feature installed on weekends—Friday and Sunday afternoon—at the B Bus Gate. It functions just like a guest book in that passers-by can deposit messages. Then, a special camera setting enables users to take photos of themselves in front of an illuminated screen. The result is a 10-centimeter shadow image that is printed out as a miniature sticker. Thus, the message is personified in the truest sense of the word.