The 2017 Prix Ars Electronica Prizewinners

The 2017 Prix Ars Electronica Prizewinners

Press Release: The 2017 Prix Ars Electronica Prizewinners / PDF
2017 Prix Ars Electronica Foto Album / Flickr

(Linz, May 22, 2017) This year’s Prix Ars Electronica prizewinners come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo/Belgium/Germany, Canada, Ireland, Slovenia and Austria. David OReilly (IE) is the recipient of the Golden Nica in the Computer Animation category for his work entitled “Everything”; the Golden Nica in Digital Musics goes to Cedrik Fermont (CD/BE/DE) and Dimitri della Faille (BE/CA) for “Not Your World Music: Noise in South East Asia”; and “K-9_topology” garnered the Golden Nica in Hybrid Art for Maja Smrekar. Lisa Buttinger from Schalchen in Salzburg is this year’s honoree in the u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD category for young people in Austria. 3,677 entries were submitted from 106 countries for 2017 Prix Ars Electronica prize consideration. The Computer Animation/Film/VFX category led the way (1,157 entries), followed by Hybrid Art (1,063), Digital Musics (792) and u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD (665). The Golden Nica statuettes will be bestowed upon the prizewinners at the Ars Electronica Gala on September 8, 2017 in Linz’s Brucknerhaus.

Hybrid Art

Golden Nica
K-9_topology / Maja Smrekar (SI)
“K-9 TOPOLGY is a true hybrid artwork with profound bio-political message and is certain to bring a lot of discussion to the audience from both art and science sides.” – Statement of the Jury

Where do we come from? What are we? And where are we headed? Maja Smrekar’s work of art revolves around issues humankind has been wrestling with since time immemorial. The Slovenian artist is being honored with the Golden Nica in Hybrid Art for “K-9_topology,” a series of works that proceed from a variety of perspectives in their dealings with the essence and the role of human beings—and especially women—in an increasingly bio-political and post-panoptic world. The work entitled “Ecce Canis” focuses on metabolic processes; chemists used serotonin, a tissue hormone and neurotransmitter, provided by the artist and her dog, Byron, to create a fragrance that symbolizes the chemical essence of the relationship between a human being and a dog. “I HUNT NATURE AND CULTURE HUNTS ME,” a performance she created during a residency at JACANA Wildlife Studios in France, has to do with the phylogenetics of the wolf and the interrelationship among wolf, dog and human being. It’s an inquiry into animal ethics. The subject of “Hybrid Family” is the social and ideological instrumentalization of the female body and beast feeding. Over the course of three months, Maja Smrekar stuck to a lactation-enhancing diet and, by systematically pumping fluid from her breasts, stimulated the production of the hormone prolactin. A side-effect of this process was the production of the hormone oxytocin, which plays an important role in interpersonal trust and empathy between mother and child. In the fourth project in this series, “ARTE_mis,” an ovum provided by the artist was denucleated and used as a host for a somatic cell of her dog. The result is a hybrid cell, inherent in which is a dystopian scenario but which also could create a new species whose chances of survival on Planet Earth are better than ours—due in no small part to the probability that this hybrid creature would treat its environment in a more humane way than we do.

Award of Distinction
The America Project / Paul Vanouse (US)
“Vanouse produces the very icon of the melting pot, the US Flag, as the result of a live scientific experiment (…)”. – Statement of the Jury

At the heart of the bio-art installation “The America Project” is the idea of a shared identity or a feeling of cohesiveness that was once a part of the utopia of America in which the hard living conditions in rural areas tended to even out social differences and were thus conducive to equal rights for all. Installation visitors are requested to rinse their mouth with a saline solution and then to spit it out into a spittoon that thus comingles hundreds of people’s DNA. The DNA of all these people is neither individualized nor stored; it is processed as a mix. By means of so-called DNA fingerprinting, Paul Vanouse uses this material to develop iconic images of power such as crowns, fighter jets and flags that are visualized as live video projections.

Award of Distinction

A Study into 21st Century Drone Acoustics / Gonçalo Freiria Cardoso (PT), Ruben Pater (NL)
“The Jury recognized and appreciated the project’s critical stand and goal to spread awareness and contribute to the debate in connection to future technologies and their relation to warfare.” – Statement of the Jury

Designer Ruben Pater and composer Gonçalo Freiria Cardoso tune in on the auditory dimension of unmanned aerial vehicles in “A Study into 21st Century Drone Acoustics,” an LP album released in 2016. The A-side features audio recordings of 17 different types of drones, ranging from toy whirlybirds to quadcopters deployed on military missions. The B-side plays a soundscape composed by Gonçalo Freiria Cardoso that was influenced by the misuse and destructive potential of drones, and focuses on the conceptual life and death of a drone in the 21st century.

Digital Musics & Sound Art

Golden Nica

Not Your World Music: Noise in South East Asia / Cedrik Fermont (CD/BE/DE), Dimitri della Faille (BE/CA)
“(…) an outstanding book and CD compilation project.” – Statement of the Jury

“Not Your World Music: Noise in South East Asia” is a book about art, politics, identity, gender and global capitalism. And it is one of the very few works about noise & sound art and about electro-acoustic, experimental and industrial music of the past and present in Southeast Asia. This volume contains political, historical and sociological essays and interviews with artists as well as an extensive bibliography on Southeast Asian music and noise & experimental musicians. Its compilers define “Not Your World Music: Noise in South East Asia” as a political, anti-sexist and anti-colonial contribution to a discourse on society, social representation, inequality, marginalization and colonialism.

Award of Distinction

Corpus Nil / Marco Donnarumma (IT/DE)
“The striking scenography of the performance deconstructs the body, inviting the audience to witness the birth of a sonically augmented cyborg creature.” – Statement of the Jury

“Corpus Nil” is a performance that investigates hybrid forms of identity and musical ability. The crux of this work is the physical body of the performer—partially naked, partially painted black, undergoing incessant metamorphosis. Wearable biosensors send body-related data to a computer program, tiny microphones capture the sounds of the muscles and internal organs, and electrodes register the sounds made by the tensing and relaxing of the muscles. A machine uses special filters to generate a description of the amplitudes and frequencies of all the sounds produced in the performer’s body as well as their changes. By means of a feedback network made up of 20 digital oscillators, all of these noises are formed into new sounds. The outcome is a music that is slow and recursive and consists solely of microtonal variations of a limited number of pitches.

Award of Distinction

Gamelan Wizard / Lucas Abela (AU), Wukir Suryadi (ID) and Rully Shabara (ID)
“(…) a skillful piece of interactive design in the public space.” – Statement of the Jury

“Gamelan Wizard” is a musical instrument that resembles a pinball machine. Up to eight players at once can use their flippers to send pinballs darting across this playing surface. The balls’ collisions with the game’s many obstacles produce sounds. Without realizing it at first, “Gamelan Wizard” users aren’t playing a pinball machine at all; it’s a musical instrument.

Computer Animation / Film / VFX

Golden Nica

Everything / David OReilly (IE)
“(…) a unique and innovative approach to animation that pushes the boundaries between linear, nonlinear, and interactive experience. (…) also serves a highly educational purpose and includes an important political statement (…)” – Statement of the Jury

This year’s Golden Nica in the Computer Animation / Film / VFX category goes to “Everything” by David OReilly. This nature simulation dispenses with tasks, objectives and point requirements. In this half-game/half-work-of-art, everything that users see they can play too. At the push of a button, players transform themselves from a protozoan into a ladybug, a hot-air balloon or an entire galaxy. “Everything” entails a very special trip, includes commuting back and forth between the microcosm and the macrocosm, and permits observation of the entire universe from the point of view of thousands of subjects as well as objects. What emerge almost instinctively during the course of the game are thoughts about the players own existence, and not only that … players can also read the thoughts of many of the objects in the game, thoughts ranging from the philosophical to the absurd. The voice of the narrator in “Everything” is that of Alan Watts, the philosopher who died in 1973. “Everything” is available for PC, Mac, Linux and the PS4.

Award of Distinction

Out of Exile / Nonny de la Peña (US), Emblematic Group (US)
“(…) a visceral experience, and very powerful.” – Statement of the Jury

“Out of Exile” is an impressive parable dealing with the hostility that many lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people are subjected to. The clip consists of a computer animation sequence and the original audio track that teenager Daniel Ashley Pierce recorded while revealing to his family that he is a homosexual. “Out of Exile” confronts viewers with the emotionally charged and violent scene that ensued after this coming-out, as well as with the fact that Daniel Ashley Pierce ended up getting thrown out of the house and having to live on the streets. Finally, he and other young people talk about their experiences with homelessness. The fact that, despite it all, they were able to become masters of their own fate and triumph over despair is ultimately a source of hope and the courage to remain true to oneself.

Award of Distinction

Light Barrier 3rd Edition / Mimi Son (KR), Elliot Woods (UK) / Kimchi and Chips
“With this prize, the jury would like to encourage others to further technologies and ways we create and experience animation.” – Statement of the Jury

Mimi Son and Elliot Woods can take pleasure in an Award of Distinction in the Computer Animation / Film / VFX category. Their installation consists of eight powerful video projectors that are divided up into 630 sub-projectors and serve a device made up of various concave mirrors. They emit countless calibrated light rays that coalesce into a fog and produce forms. At the same time, 40 audio channels give rise to a field of sound that elicits additional sensory involvement on the part of the audience. “Light Barrier 3rd Edition” engenders a surreal impression that transcends the human feel for time and space.


Golden Nica
nonvisual-art / Lisa Buttinger (AT)

“(…) has developed a new medium, a new material that artists can utilize to form images.” – Statement of the Jury

“nonvisual-art” is an image that is simultaneously visible and invisible. Cellophane foils and air bubbles trapped in a layer of adhesive refract in a highly artistic way the light shone onto them. In this way, natural science becomes a tool for graphical depiction. First, a polarizing filter refracts invisible light into visible colors and then forms them into an image. Viewed through 3-D glasses, the image becomes a space. Lisa Buttinger painstakingly constructed this “enchanted world” piece by piece. “nonvisual-art” was created as a design project at HBLA–High School for Artistic Design Linz. Lisa Buttinger gained the necessary theoretical insights in conjunction with her diploma thesis.

Award of Distinction

LARES – A Puzzle Action Adventure Game / Florian Buger, Sonja Futterknecht, Maria Raser, David Holy, Mario Kerndler (all AT)

“(…) video game that could be put on the market in this form without changing a thing. (…) playing this game is quite a sophisticated undertaking.” – Statement of the Jury

LARES is an action-adventure computer game set in a fantasy world. It’s easy to navigate through, has numerous puzzle elements, offers challenging opponents, and contains multiple levels featuring diverse designs, which together guarantee a game experience that’s both enduring and entertaining. LARES is a collaborative project by a group of students, each of whom contributed her/his respective skills.

Award of Distinction

NERVE – Lessons on Demand / Clemens Großberger, Thomas Übellacker (all AT)
“(…) a fascinating idea for a concrete problem and topic.” – Statement of the Jury

“NERVE – Lessons on Demand” is an up-to-date Web platform developed by Clemens Großberger and Thomas Übelacker. Their aim: Providing online access to previous classroom instruction that a student—for whatever reason: tardiness, absence or to study for an exam—wishes to review. Instructional units are presented in a clearly structured way, and can also be enriched with additional material by the teacher. Furthermore, NERVE makes available a clearly comprehensible, user-friendly application that academic administrators can custom-configure for their particular school.

netidee SPECIAL PRIZE 2017

Big Poop Data / Robert Miller, Nico Rameder, Daniel Wetzelhütter, Max Wolschlager (all AT)
“(…) satirical approach to the subject of online privacy and clean technical implementation.” – Statement of the Jury

The toilet at Metalab in Vienna is the epicenter of the “Big Poop Data” project. Robert Miller, Nico Rameder, Daniel Wetzelhütter and Max Wolschlager equipped their crapper with a shitload of sensors as a means of gathering information about WC-goers’ use of toilet paper and water, as well as the average length of time they take to do their business. The purveyors of “Big Poop Data” intend this as a critical commentary on the increasingly pervasive obsession with digital data-gathering, and as an appeal to safeguard our digital privacy.

K-9_topology – Maja Smrekar / Fotocredit: BORUT PETERLIN / Printversion / Album

Everything / David OReilly / Fotocredit: David OReilly / Printversion / Album

Not Your World Music: Noise in South East Asia, Book & CD – Cedrik Fermont, Dimitri della Faille / Fotocredit: Dimitri della Faille / Printversion / Album

nonvisual-art – Lisa Buttinger / Fotocredit: Ars Electronica – Martin Hieslmair / Printversion / Album

Corpus Nil / Marco Donnarumma

Gamelan Wizard / Lucas Abela, Wukir Suryadi, Rully Shabara

Light Barrier 3rd Edition – Mimi Son, Elliot Woods / Kimchi and Chips