Prix Ars Electronica: The 2014 Prizewinners

Prix Ars Electronica:
The 2014 Prizewinners

Press Release “Prix Ars Electronica: The 2014 Prizewinners” / PDF
Interviews with jurors of the Prix Ars Electronica 2014 can be found on Ars Electronica’s Blog.
Winning projects of the Prix Ars Electronica 2014
Photos Prix Ars Electronica 2014<

(Linz, June 2, 2014) 2,703 projects were submitted from 77 countries for Prix Ars Electronica prize consideration in 2014. This year’s competition was held in the following categories: COMPUTER ANIMATION (843 submissions), INTERACTIVE ART (782 submissions), DIGITAL COMMUNITIES (294 submissions), [the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant (128 submissions), u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD (656 submissions) and, for the first time, VISIONARY PIONEERS OF MEDIA ART (117 nominations). The 2014 Golden Nicas go to Universal Everything (in Computer Animation), Paolo Cirio (in Interactive Art), Project Fumbaro Eastern Japan (in Digital Communities), Sarah Oos (in u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD) and Roy Ascott (in VISIONARY PIONEERS OF MEDIA ART). This year’s recipients of [the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant are Markus Schmeiduch, Andrew Spitz and Ruben van der Vleuten. The awards will be presented, as they are every year, at the Ars Electronica Gala in the Brucknerhaus in Linz on Friday, September 5, 2014.

Prizewinners by Category

Visionary Pioneer of Media Art
Roy Ascott (UK)

Visionary Pioneers of Media Art was launched this year. It differs from the other categories in two main respects. For one thing, it isn’t awarded on the basis of a single outstanding project but rather to recognize an artist’s lifework and impact on the international media art scene. For another, the jury that decides who the prizewinner will be is made up solely of those artists who have themselves been recipients of a Golden Nica since the Prix Ars Electronica’s inception in 1987. In a first round, these men and women nominate their candidates; in the second round, they cast their ballots. The first VISIONARY PIONEER OF MEDIA ART to be singled out for recognition with a Golden Nica is Roy Ascott.
The British artist, theoretician and visionary thinker has been active since the 1960s, and his numerous publications and works have exerted a major influence on the global digital art community. Ascott has exhibited his works at such venues as the Venice Biennale, the Shanghai Biennale, the Milan Triennale, the Ars Electronica Festival, the Plymouth Arts Centre and the Incheon International Arts Festival in South Korea. In 1980 and thus even before the birth of the internet, Ascott presented one of the world’s first online art projects on the ARPANET for universities. In 1983 in the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, Ascott exhibited “MuLa Plissure du Texte” (A Planetary Fairy Tale), a telematic project with artists in Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, Bristol, Sydney, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Toronto, San Francisco, Honolulu and Alma. In 1989, Roy Ascott appeared at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, where he presented “Aspects of Gaia: digital pathways across the whole earth,” a computer network project in the form of an interactive installation. The core of this work was interaction among artists, musicians and scientists from different cultures and locations around the world. Roy Ascott is celebrating his 80th birthday this year, which makes it a perfect occasion to honor him with the Golden Nica as Visionary Pioneer of Media Art.

Computer Animation / Film / VFX

Computer Animation / Film / VFX / Golden Nica
Walking City / Universal Everything (UK)

Universal Everything‘s “Walking City” is a spare but stylish video that merges elements of sculpture, architecture and motion. What the viewer sees throughout the eight-minute work is an abstract, humanoid figure resolutely striding from left to right, constantly maintaining the same unwavering rhythm. While the sculpture keeps up its forceful but monotonous locomotion, its shape is undergoing incessant metamorphosis (though its color never varies from white). Matt Pyke’s sculpture seems to be walking through the streets of a modern metropolis and, like a chameleon that changes colors to blend into its environment, reflects the surfaces, structures and materials of the surrounding façades. In combination with the soundtrack, a shuffle by his brother Simon, Matt Pyke’s single-mindedly marching but continuously morphing “Transformer” exerts a nearly hypnotic effect.

Computer Animation / Film / VFX / Award of Distinction

“Box” is a short film that documents a live performance. It explores the synthesis of real and digital space through projection-mapping on moving surfaces. BOT & DOLLY regard “Box” as both an artistic statement and a technical demonstration. Their effort is the culmination of multiple technologies, including large scale robotics, projection mapping and software engineering. The result is a hybrid of art, technology and experimental filmmaking. “We believe this methodology has tremendous potential to radically transform theatrical presentations, and define new genres of expression,” the makers of “Box” stated.

Computer Animation / Film / VFX / Award of Distinction
Shadowland / Kazuhiro Goshima (JP)

“Shadowland” is a 3-D short film by Japanese artist Kazuhiro Goshima. Night after night, countless vehicles wend their way through the world’s metropolises, their headlights producing fleeting, moving shadows on the multifarious surfaces of these big cities. Over and over again, new shadows are cast—on a building’s wall, for instance—and thus create a transient image of what transpires during a moment of city life. They’re almost like memories no one’s able to decode anymore. Amidst the cityscape’s constantly changing countenance in the focus of the moving beams of light, space and time become disjointed and animated before the viewers’ very eyes.

Interactive Art

Interactive Art / Golden Nica
Loophole for All / Paolo Cirio (IT/US)

Art, activism and investigative journalism are what went into making Paolo Cirio’s “Loophole for All.” This project’s attention is focused on the Cayman Islands, the world’s fifth largest financial center and offshore tax haven. Paolo Cirio has stolen the identities of 200,000 companies registered here and is offering them for sale on his website What makes it possible is that registration in this Caribbean paradise can be done totally anonymously. So anyone can acquire a certificate that sets him or her up with the identity of a real company and thereby provides entrée to the financial world of the Caymans. The way Paolo Cirio sees it, everybody ought to have the opportunity to enjoy the same tax benefits that major corporations take advantage of. In this spirit, he describes his project as the attempt to democratize tax avoidance. Of course, the artist/activist’s ultimate aim is to call attention to the global dimensions of this type of cheating and to put an end to it for good, though he has no illusions about this happening anytime soon, since the lobby he’s taking on here is a pretty powerful one indeed.

Interactive Art / Award of Distinction
Balance From Within / Jacob Tonski (US)

Interpersonal relationships often prove to be a balancing act that succeeds only through ongoing give-and-take and adaptation. That also applies to “Balance from Within,” a 170-year-old, 40-kilogram couch balanced semi-upright on one leg through the application of a robotic mechanism installed inside it. While the sofa attempts to maintain equilibrium, the installation’s motors produce sounds that resemble muffled groans and creaking. Of course, a single imprudent movement (or even some smart-ass installation visitor) can cause the sculpture to come crashing to the floor. In order to minimize the resulting damage, the major components of the sofa are held together by magnets, so the pieces separate cleanly on impact and can be easily reassembled.

Interactive Art / Award of Distinction
Disarming Corruptor / Matthew Plummer-Fernandez (UK)

Disarming Corruptor, a new software tool created by Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, encrypts digital 3-D models in STL format in order to evade censorship. In a time of prolific online surveillance, crackdowns on file-sharing, and a growing concern for the 3-D printing of illegal items and copyright-protected artifacts, Disarming Corruptor is a free software application that helps people to circumvent these issues. Inspired by encryption rotor machines such as the infamous Enigma Machine, the application runs an algorithm that is used to both corrupt STL files into a visually illegible state by glitching and rotating the 3-D mesh, and to allow a recipient to reverse the effect to restore it back to its original form. The file recipient would need both the Disarming Corruptor application and the unique seven-digit settings used by the sender; entering the incorrect settings would only damage the file further. When a so-called patent assertion entity or law enforcement agency comes upon files like this on a sharing platform, all they see are abstract distortions as a preview image. Such files still represent the original object; they just have to be repaired by entering the seven-digit code.

Digital Communities

Digital Communities / Golden Nica
Project Fumbaro Eastern Japan – An autonomic crowdsourcing model to cope with the critical situation

On March 11, 2011, Eastern Japan was hit by the most devastating earthquake ever recorded there. The seaquake’s epicenter was 370 km northeast of Tokyo and 130 km east of Sendai. And this seismic event triggered two subsequent catastrophes: a tsunami that sent waves ranging from 10 to over 30 meters high breaking over the Japanese coast; and accidents at several nuclear power plants, the worst of them at Fukushima. Higashi-Nihon daishinsai (the great earthquake catastrophe of Eastern Japan) caused approximately 18,000 fatalities and left 470,000 people homeless. One of the dead was Takeo Saijo’s uncle. This tragic personal loss combined with the experience of how slowly and inefficiently aid was reaching people in the disaster area—or that it never got to them at all—led him to resolve to take matters into his own hands. So Takeo Saijo launched Project Fumbaro Eastern Japan, which took an approach that’s as simple as it is revolutionary to the matter of connecting up the acute needs of some with relief efforts by others. All he needed to get this up and running were a website serving as a central location to post requests for supplies and other needs, and his Twitter channel to pass this information along to potential aid providers. Then, it didn’t take long before about ten thousand relief shipments were also reaching people who had been holding out amidst the rubble of their homes in remote villages where they had been cut off from any kind of help. Project Fumbaro Eastern Japan was soon the country’s largest voluntary initiative.
Takeo Saijo was born in 1974 in Sendai City. He’s a lecturer at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Commerce.

Digital Communities / Award of Distinction
Goteo / Goteo is an initiative managed by the non-profit organization Fundación Fuentes Abiertas (Open Sources Foundation), promoted by Platoniq.

Goteo is an open source network in Spain that facilitates crowdfunding for projects that benefit the community. It’s a platform for shared infrastructure with a focus on projects of a social, cultural, scientific, educational, technological or ecological nature that open up new possibilities for communal development and for enriching the facilities and resources available to all members of society. Support can be provided to Goteo projects in the form of financial contributions, but there are others ways too: people can donate materials, make infrastructure available, and agree to perform particular tasks. Goteo is quite a busy spot these days—there are more than 38,000 registered users, 200+ projects have been financed, and assistance in various forms has been offered over 1,500 times. This is now a tried and tested tool that empowers citizens and communities so they can take advantage of mutual aid to face the growing challenges caused by financial crises and social budget cuts.

Digital Communities / Award of Distinction

The website is the world’s largest online resource having to do with music censorship. The site provides news, interviews with persecuted and censored musicians, and reportage about music censorship, reports the results of research, and covers actions to support endangered musicians. was set up back in 1999. Over the years, numerous scholars, journalists, artists and activists have contributed to the website’s development.

[the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant

[the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant
BlindMaps / Markus Schmeiduch (AT), Andrew Spitz (FR), Ruben van der Vleuten (NL)

For people with good vision, taking a walk through a big city is something taken completely for granted. But orientation becomes infinitely more difficult if ones eyesight is no longer a reliable means of processing impressions from ones surroundings. BlindMaps is a research project devoted to precisely this problem: How to enable visually impaired people to get oriented and navigate in urban spaces with which they’re unfamiliar? And BlindMaps has come up with a way to help: Inputting the routing query verbally; utilizing touch-sensitive haptic technology; and an interface featuring a perforated, Braille-like screen with tiny protruding bumps whose changes or movements enable the user to navigate in real time. The decision not to rely on a verbal description of the route was based on the fact that this could prevent the user from hearing ambient noises that are so important for orientation. Currently in planning is BlindMaps as a crowd-sourced, navigation-based service that takes advantage of maps like OpenStreetMap and the onboard technologies of smartphones. If a problem arises en route, the user can report it by pushing a button, whereupon he/she is automatically rerouted by the system. Via the smartphone’s built-in sensors, the system evaluates the route taken, whereby abrupt movements and changes of direction result in assigning the route a higher degree of difficulty. The more visually impaired people use the respective route, the more precise the orientation can become.


u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD / Golden Nica
Femme Chanel & Emma Fenchel / Sarah Oos (AT)

Emma Fenchel is a femme fatale. She seduces men, uses them and then kills them off. In brief episodes that almost seem like dream sequences, “Femme Chanel” provides glimpses into the exhilarating life of Emma Fenchel, a life filled with passion and jealousy, lust and violence. Emma Fenchel is portrayed by French actress Audrey Tautou, though completely unbeknownst to her since “Femme Chanel” is a found footage montage in which sequences from various other films are edited together in such a way that a new film is the result. Sarah Oos is the auteur of “Femme Chanel.” To make it, she used scenes from a Chanel No. 5 commercial entitled “Night Train” and other films starring Audrey Tautou. “‘Femme Chanel’ is a manipulation on several levels,” according to Ms. Oos. “The video consists primarily of cuts interconnecting formally well-matched sequences from other motion pictures. In order to manipulate on yet another level, I decided to employ only the original French soundtrack. Dialog between Emma and her lovers is made understandable to German-speaking viewers by means of subtitles, whereby there’s absolutely no connection between the spoken French and the written German.” This playful approach to cinematic reality already began with Sarah Oos’ naming of her chief protagonist: “Emma Fenchel is an anagram of Femme Chanel.”

For her clip, Sarah Oos used sequences from the following movies:

– CHANEL N°5 by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
– Coco Before Chanel by Anne Fontaine
– Priceless by Pierre Salvadori
– Hunting and Gathering by Claude Berri
– The Skin I Live in by Pedro Almodóvar

Sarah Oos was born in 1994 in Wels, where she now lives. Since 2009, she has attended the High School for Artistic Design. Since 2012, she’s been involved in the YOUKI – International Youth Media Festival.

u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD / Award of Distinction
(e)motion-mirror / Richard Sadek (AT)

“(e)motion-mirror” has earned an Award of Distinction in the u19 – CREATE YOUR WOLRD category for Styria resident Richard Sadek. In Experimental Media Design, an elective he took at Kepler High School in Graz, Richard Sadek came up with the idea of developing a mirror that can transform emotions into sounds. To do so, he set up a plate of semi-transparent mirrored glass, and behind it he installed a webcam that captures the face of anyone standing in front of it. Emotionally charged facial movements are analyzed by an (e)motion analysis algorithm, converted into piano notes by a computer, and output via external loudspeakers. The acoustic feedback can then be interpreted by the person whose facial movements got the process started.

u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD / Award of Distinction
Smart Clock / Jonas Bodingbauer (AT)

Jonas Bodingbauer, a 15-year-old from Linz, has developed a clock that also does the job of a calendar. In addition to the current time, Smart Clock also displays upcoming appointments, which it retrieves from Google Calendar. LEDs behind the clock’s face show when the appointments are scheduled for and how long they’re set to last. The respective information appears on a 20×4-letter LCD display under the clock. The Smart Clock is an excellent example of an object engendered by DIY thinking and that takes advantage of open source technologies.


Golden Nica Computer Animation / Film / VFX
Walking City / Universal Everything (UK)

Universal Everything’s “Walking City” blurs the boundaries between design, animation, sculpture, fashion and architecture. A walk cycle, an iconic archetype of traditional animation, becomes the starting point for a complex, beautifully crafted and extremely coherent visual and aural journey. It is a time-based object of contemplation, a true celebration of form and geometry . . . from sharp to soft, solid to liquid, simple to complex, figurative to abstract . . . everything and vice versa. The modularity of a natural walk cycle becomes a time-signature for the whole audiovisual composition.

Golden Nica Interactive Art
Loophole for All / Paolo Cirio (IT/US)

It is common knowledge that our global tax system allows large international companies to avoid taxation by channeling their profit through states or countries where their taxes are levied at a low rate or not at all, making the tax burden fall disproportionately on individual taxpayers and small local companies. “Loophole4All” is a clever artistic intervention in our global tax system that empowers ordinary people to avoid taxation the same way as these companies do. Using the identity of a company registered on the Cayman Islands, anyone can in principle invoice from this tax haven and consequently avoid taxation. “Loophole4All” basically provides such identities to anyone, creating a tax loophole for all.
The legal owners of these identities could of course protest against this illegal use of their registered company names, if it were not for the fact that their anonymity is what makes it possible for big international corporations to hide behind such identities to avoid taxation. Using this anonymity against them, “Loophole4All” outsmarts these companies on their own turf. The project thereby corrupts this practice from the inside out, both raising discussions in the public realm—about the ethics of such corporate tax avoidance—as well as in the corporate realm—where tax-avoiding companies feel threatened in their highly profitable tax schemes. “Loophole4All” does not raise this discussion on the basis of a mere prototype or proof of concept, but on an intervention in the actual tax system at work, with real consequences for the interactions between states, legal bodies and individuals that make up the global taxation system. Its effectiveness in corrupting the system probably increases with the attention generated around the project, as each new “Loophole4All” user brings us closer to the collapse of this unethical practice within the global tax system. The 2014 Golden Nica for Interactive Art therefore not only represents an appreciation of Paulo Cirio’s artwork of exceptional quality and timeliness, but also a support in the protest against the unethical behavior of companies that avoid taxation. The jury urges Ars Electronica to seriously consider sending invoices from the Cayman Islands for the prize money this year.

Golden Nica Digital Communities
Project Fumbaro Eastern Japan – An autonomic crowdsourcing model to cope with the critical situation

“Project Fumbaro” is the local grassroots-driven volunteer platform in Japan, which arose after the 2011 earthquake—“fumbaro” means “hang in there”. It crowd-sources and crowd-funds time, energy and resources of the community to meet the *real* needs of people. In the context of Japan, this initiative has the potential to catalyze governance models.
“Project Fumbaro” is well designed and revitalizes a strong sense of volunteerism, and it is also a more focused method for matching the real needs of the community. Past efforts have often led to communities receiving resources they do not need. For example, people have a tendency to donate water and food for victims of an earthquake, when what they really need is chain saws to cut wood to keep themselves warm.

[the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant
BlindMaps / Markus Schmeiduch (AT), Andrew Spitz (FR), Ruben van der Vleuten (NL)

Our winning project “Blind Maps” by Markus Schmeiduch, Andrew Spitz and Ruben van der Vleuten provides an outstanding solution for blind people to navigate routes in real-time with the support of touch-sensitive technology. The interface has a perforated Braille-like screen with adaptable, moving pins, which are showing the user how to find his or her way through the dense network of streets so typical of current cities. The big potential of the project lies in the fact that it augments the everyday reality of visually impaired people, and thus creates access to technologies that were previously not available to this group. *Blind Maps* opens up and expands a formerly one-dimensional “blind space” to a crowd-sourced, navigation-based ecosystem enriched with useful information. On top of that, the exploration of this technology might add the tactile sense to augmented reality and thus enhance the experience and use of technical devices, which will possibly affect our future interaction habits on a more general level.

Golden Nica u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD
Femme Chanel & Emma Fenchel / Sarah Oos (AT)

FEMME CHANEL combines a Chanel commercial with assorted scenes from films starring Audrey Tautou. The alternation between B&W and color, the musical transitions, and the overall rhythm of the editing are very well done. The sophisticated montage of the film footage and the soundtrack brilliantly expresses the author’s concept. The members of the jury were delighted by the great interpretational latitude permitted by this work. The divergence of the French dialog and the totally made-up German subtitles initially gives rise to confusion, but they eventually evoke a variety of associations in the minds of viewers and inspire thoughts of a very different kind. At each subsequent screening, jurors discovered new aspects of this work. It’s interesting that it’s capable of engendering new narratives even in the minds of those who have already watched it several times. We congratulate Sarah Oos on winning the Golden Nica and wish her continued success in her filmmaking career!


Loophole for All / Paolo Cirio / Printversion / Album


Balance from Within / Jacob Tonski / Printversion / Album


Golden Nicas / tom mesic / Printversion / Album


Logo Prix Ars Electronica 2014 / Ars Electronica / Printversion / Album

Walking City / Universal Everything

Box / Bot & Dolly