Prix Ars Electronica 2015: 2,889 entries from 75 countries …

Prix Ars Electronica 2015
Prix Ars Electronica 2015: 2,889 entries from 75 countries … …

Press release: Prix Ars Electronica 2015 with all the winners and facts & figures / PDF
Foto-album Prix Ars Electronica 2015
Ars Electronica Blog: Photo stories on the jury process

(Linz, May 26, 2015) 2,889 entries from 75 countries were submitted for prize consideration to the 2015 Prix Ars Electronica. This year’s grand prizewinners are from Japan (Nelo Akamatsu), Mexico (Gilberto Esparza), Indonesia (XXLab), Belgium (Alex Verhaest), Australia (Jeffrey Shaw) and Austria (Gabriel Radwan). The recipients of the Golden Nicas and [the next idea] voestalpine Art & Technology Grant will be honored at the Prix Ars Electronica Gala on September 4, 2015 at the Brucknerhaus in Linz. These excellent projects and visions will be showcased by the CyberArts exhibition at the OK Center for Contemporary Art throughout the Ars Electronica Festival September 3-7, 2015.

Computer Animation / Film / VFX

Computer Animation/Film/VFX / Golden Nica
Temps Mort / Idle Times / Alex Verhaest (BE) /

“[…] This visual experience offers enormous potential to elucidate the internal turmoil of the family of characters. The details of the setting add a haunting and mysterious backstory that intrigues us and prompts us to ask more questions. Like a projection of our own world, the work is an invitation into a place of illusion, a study of complex, alienated characters through intriguing dialogues, neurotic monologues and subtle animated elements.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

How do you create and tell a story? How do you develop a character? What role is played by how a film is edited? And how can you succeed in absolutely enthralling audiences so they really get into a work of fiction—which is to say, an illusion? “Temps mort / Idle times” is an approximately 10-minute-long experimental film in which Alex Verhaest explores precisely these questions. In purely visual terms, he’s been inspired by paintings of the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance—to be precise, the use of light and color as well as the arrangement and body language of the depicted figures that were typical of that time. The film portrays a family engaging in a rather idiosyncratic conversation in which they repeatedly mention the—recently?—deceased paterfamilias. This dialog is initiated by members of the audience who call a certain number with their cell phones. The title “Temps mort / Idle times” alludes to our technology-enabled, network-based conversations, all of which entail alternating sequences of an active phase (composing and sending a message) and a passive phase (waiting for an answer).

Computer Animation / Film / VFX / Award of Distinction
Bär / Pascal Floerks (DE) / /

“[…] a touching and complex story about World War Two, loss, disappointment and the small things that make up the sum of a lifetime is told.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

“Bär” is Pascal Floerks’ graduation project at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. The film is a very personal effort to come to terms with the death of his grandfather. Like a slideshow, this work is a succession of photos and film footage giving an account of the eventful life of a man forced to serve as a paratrooper in World War II and who bore the marks of this experience the rest of his days. Floerks’ “body double” for his grandfather is a huge, powerful brown bear.

Computer Animation / Film / VFX / Award of Distinction
The Reflection of Power / Mihai Grecu (RO/HU)

Due to exclusive publishing rights, no info on the project is published for now.

Digital Musics & Sound Art

Digital Musics & Sound Art / Golden Nica
Chijikinkutsu / Nelo Akamatsu (JP)

“[…] This work encompasses what we can see and what we cannot see in our consciousness both in ordinary life and the psychological world. There is also a resonance with a variety of philosophies, as with the idea of the heart sutra: ‘Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form’, Paul Klee’s theory of form production, and William Gilbert’s theory of magnetism.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

Chijikinkutsu is a neologism derived from two Japanese words: Chijiki meaning geomagnetism and Suikinkutsu, a sound installation for a traditional Japanese garden invented in the Edo period (1603-1868), in which the sounds of water drops falling into an earthenware pot buried under a stone washbasin resonate through hollow bamboo utensils. Nelo Akamatsu combined the two in this simple yet poetic configuration. All he needed to produce it are glass tumblers filled with water, magnetized sewing needles floating on the water surface, and small coils of copper wire affixed to the exterior of the tumblers and attached to batteries. Supplying electricity to the coils creates a temporary magnetic field that attracts the needle to the coil. As soon as this occurs, each needle strikes the side of the glass tumbler, producing a sound very similar to that of a traditional Suikinkutsu. As a result of geomagnetism, the needles align themselves in a north-south direction.

Digital Musics & Sound Art / Award of Distinction
UNDER WAY / Douglas Henderson (US) /

“[…] The jury was impressed by the knowledge of acoustic processes as well as the original and expert use of materials. A small sculpture opens up not only a sound but a visual horizon as well. The work makes it evident that ideas about the importance of technological material and ideas about what simplicity means have to be rethought.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

Douglas Henderson’s “UNDER WAY” stages a sophisticated interplay of light and shadow that gives installation visitors the feeling that, instead of being in an interior space, they’re on the deck of a ship being buffeted by waves. This impression is due to the constant up-and-down movements of a horizon projected onto the space’s wall that appears to be an ocean and a starry sky. The play of light and shadow, in turn, is created by a sculpture modeled on a suspended, freely swinging chronometer. Lamps mounted on it cast a shadow line on the walls, and reflections intentionally produced on the ceiling suggest the firmament above, which likewise moves to the rhythm of the waves. This optical arrangement is acoustically underscored by recordings made inside a bottle afloat on the ocean and the fluttering of cloth sails in the wind.

Digital Musics & Sound Art / Award of Distinction
Drumming is an Elastic Concept – Staged solo concert for percussion and electronics / Josef Klammer (AT)

“[…] Musicianship, intelligent use of technique and the aesthetic quality of the physical performance of ‘Drumming is an Elastic Concept’ by Josef Klammer were the main criteria for selecting this piece. […] It delivers a state-of-the-art discourse on playing and improvising live with electronics.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

A solo piece entitled “Drumming is an Elastic Concept” earned an Award of Distinction in the Digital Musics & Sound Art category for Styrian musician Josef Klammer. Since the 1980s, he’s been working on tonally expanding his instrumental array that includes both analog and digital accessories. He’s replaced his conventional drumheads with special rubber surfaces that can be plucked, depressed or kneaded. His kit also includes light sensors, joysticks, plastic discs and a game controller. “Drumming is an Elastic Concept” was performed during the 2014 Ars Electronica Festival’s Long Concert Night.

Hybrid Art

Hybrid Art / Golden Nica
Plantas Autofotosintéticas / Gilberto Esparza (MX)

“[…] The jury acknowledges Esparza’s Plantas Autofotosintécas as an outstanding example of an artistic embodiment of the progressive convergence of hardware, software and wetware, while addressing issues of wastewater management and the need for symbiotic ecological solutions both materially and philosophically.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

Gilberto Esparza’s artistic work deals primarily with the impact technology’s increasing pervasiveness in our everyday life is having on our social relationships, our environment and the structures and processes that make up our urban habitats. He often focuses on hybrid processes involving machinery and biological organisms. In “Plantas Autofotosintéticas,” Gilberto Esparza has created a complex symbiotic system. The installation consists of spherical Plexiglas tanks arranged in a circle and interconnected by tubes. The tanks contain colonies of bacteria that, through their metabolism, filter polluted water and significantly improve its quality, and also produce energy in the form of electricity. Both outputs are then utilized by Gilberto Esparza to keep a lifecycle running. A specially developed hydraulic system delivers the recycled water to the central container and thus provides an optimal environment for its inhabitants: protozoa, crustaceans, microscopic algae and aquatic plants. At certain intervals, the electricity is given off as light, which the plants use for photosynthesis. The organic waste products generated by the organisms in the central container are, in turn, pumped into the tanks where they’re decomposed by the bacteria.

Hybrid Art / Award of Distinction
ARTSAT1: Invader / ARTSAT: Art and Satellite Project (JP)

“[…] The interdisciplinary group ARTSAT managed to design, build, program and launch the first nano art satellite into space, thus turning an exclusive expert technology into a personal and artistic medium. The jury acknowledges the group’s efforts to create an ‘open’ satellite whose data is not only accessible to the builders, but also to other stakeholders and collaborators such as the international amateur radio community.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

“ARTSAT1: Invader,” the world’s first art satellite, blasted off into outer space on February 28, 2014. The Invader is cube-shaped; each edge is 10 cm long. It weighs 1.85 kg. It’s equipped with an Arduino-compatible computer that has enabled its ground control crew at Tata Art University in Tokyo to successfully carry out a series of artistic missions: the algorithmic generation and broadcast of synthetic voices, music and poetry, recording and transmitting image data, and communication with the ground control station by means of a chatbot program. The ARTSAT project was also part of the mission of the [SPACE x ART] − Beyond Cosmologies exhibition at the Museum for Contemporary Art in Tokyo. In an installation there, data and elements delivered by Invader were fragmented, and visitors were invited to reassemble them based on their individual preferences.

Hybrid Art / Award of Distinction
Teacup Tools / Agnes Meyer-Brandis (DE)

“[…] Coming from a sculptural background, she successfully bridges the factual evidence derived from scientific research environments with fictional, almost surrealistic responses.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

The cybernetic “Teacup Tools” created by Berlin artist Agnes Meyer-Brandis focus attention on climate change and the scientific analysis of it. In a natural setting such as a forest or meadow, the artist sets up all sorts of mobile measuring instruments including tea cups each equipped with a miniature weather station. The cups contain an infusion made up exclusively of tiny particles of organic and inorganic matter found in the air such as soot, pollen and pine needles. The weather stations continuously analyze the fluids and compute the constantly changing proportions of their ingredients until their respective processors overheat. That, in turn, brings the so-called tea in the cups to a boil.

[the next idea] voestalpine Art & Technology Grant

[the next idea] voestalpine Art & Technology Grant
SOYA C(O)U(L)TURE / XXLab (ID) – Irene Agrivina Widyaningrum, Asa Rahmana, Ratna Djuwita, Eka Jayani Ayuningtias, Atinna Rizqiana

“[…] the interdisciplinary, collaborative, sustainable and creative aspects of this project meet all the criteria for a successful and a promising social innovation model and the XXLab women will certainly inspire many others.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

“SOYA C(O)U(L)TURE” is a research project by XXLab, an Indonesian R&D collective with an exclusively female staff—designers, artists and programmers with a wide range of skills and points of view. Their ambitious goal is to combat water pollution and poverty in Indonesia. XXLab’s innovative procedure takes the toxic residues and polluted water that are byproducts of Indonesia’s intensive soy production and utilizes them as inputs for manufacturing edible cellulose as well as bio-fuel and biologically tanned leather. All the equipment and ingredients necessary for this treatment are low-cost, commercially available items. Plus, there’s no need for on-site experts to start up the process developed by XXLab. In do-it-yourself fashion, anyone can get busy in their kitchen at home.

Visionary Pioneer of Media Art
Jeffrey Shaw (AUS)

“[…] Jeffrey Shaw is recognized as one of the most important pioneers of interactive art. He has powerfully influenced the creation of virtual environments and new innovative user interfaces. Shaw’s work spans a period of half a century and still continues to do so.”

Jeffrey Shaw has been a leading figure in new media art since the 1960s. His works have garnered high praise from critics and have been featured in important museums and at festivals worldwide. Shaw has set the standard for the creative use of interactive technologies in the fields of expanded cinema, virtual and augmented reality, immersive visualization environments, and interactive narrative. His oeuvre includes some of the most internationally renowned works in the history of media art: Corpocinema (1969), Viewpoint (1975), the laser and slide shows for the world tours of the group GENESIS in the mid-‘70s, Legible City (1989), EVE (1993), PLACE‐Hampi (2006), T_Visionarium (2008) and Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang (2012). As the founding director of the ZKM Institut für Bildmedien and the UNSW iCinema Research Center and as dean of the CityU School of Creative Media, Shaw has had a tremendous influence on media art.

u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD / Golden Nica
Inside & Between / Gabriel Radwan (AT)

“[…] Gabriel Radwan creates compressed images that speak volumes, poetry in its purest form. His brilliant use of motion pictures and sounds is both playful and sophisticated. His film derives its emotional force not from the narrative elements on the surface but rather from what’s inside and between them.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

Gabriel Radwan’s short film is about an artist—a painter to be precise—who loses himself so completely in his self-created illusion that he forgets everything going on around him. Gabriel Radwan loves motion pictures and he’s also pretty handy with charcoal pencils—so he figured: Why not combine the two? The outcome is a visual delight! This stop-motion film consists exclusively of charcoal drawings that are repeatedly erased and redrawn. After each minute change, Gabriel Radwan captured the result in a digital photo. The final step was to assemble all these images into a stop-motion animated film. “The point of my work isn’t to call attention to social problems. Instead, it’s an attempt to get people to give free rein to their creativity and to share this with others in one form or another,” Gabriel Radwan wrote.

u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD / Award of Distinction
Are you worth it? / Sonja Aberl (AT)

“[…] Sonja Aberl’s multifaceted film shows the extent of the pressure as well as the sense of fascination that are the outgrowths of omnipresent ideals of beauty. We were particularly impressed by this film’s authenticity and emotional strength.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

This 19-year-old Linz native’s short film deals with how the ideals that are constructed and propagated by the media influence and shape our society in general and young people in particular. Sonja Aberl’s protagonist is a girl named M. who’s in the midst of a process of self-discovery. She struggles with her fears and a sense of insecurity evoked by the various role models and ideals of beauty she’s confronted with.

u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD / Award of Distinction
β-Book / Laurenz Birnbaum, Luca Eichler (both AT)

“[…] ß-Book is an eBook for the blind! […] This project is a superb example of the successful application of new technologies in the service of barrier-free living, and laudable commitment by these young men on behalf of a good cause.” (Excerpt from the Jury Statement)

eBooks enjoy growing popularity; they’ve long since become a mainstay of the digital media mix. Nevertheless, blind people have been able to use eBooks up to now only by means of a screen reader unless, of course, they purchase a Braille device that’s still quite costly. That’s precisely why two youngsters from Tyrol, Laurenz Birnbaum and Luca Eichler, developed their “β-Book,” a prototype eBook for the blind that can provide this group of readers with access to the world’s literature at an affordable price.


Golden Nicas / Florian Voggeneder / Printversion / Album


Plantas Autofotosintéticas / Gilberto Esparza / Printversion / Album


Teacup Tools / Agnes Meyer-Brandis / VG Bildkunst / Printversion / Album