40 Years of Humanizing Technology – Art, Technology, Society

Ars Electronica Shows Exhibition in Shenzhen

Press release / PDF
Interviews with the curators of the exhibition / Ars Electronica Blog
Photoalbum / Flickr
Video / Youtube

(Linz, Shenzhen / October 29, 2019) With “40 Years of Humanizing Technology – Art, Technology, Society”, Ars Electronica, the Chinese Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) and the Design Society Shenzhen will open their first joint exhibition at the Sea World Culture and Arts Center in Shenzhen on November 2, 2019. The exhibition centers around the the 40-year history of Linz-based Ars Electronica and thus the (media-) artistic effort to develop a technology that is primarily committed to us and to the concerns of our society(s) rather than to the economy. CAFA in turn contributes selected works from the Chinese media art scene to this debate. “40 Years of Humanizing Technology – Art, Technology, Society” can be seen at the Sea World Culture and Arts Center in Shenzhen until February 16, 2020.

From Automation to Autonomy
The starting point of the exhibition is our global digital society here and now; 4.5 billion people who use the World Wide Web today to work, shop, play, share and learn. People in whose everyday lives technology is omnipresent and self-evident. And yet; this was just the beginning.

Thanks to the computing power available today and the huge amounts of data produced by our digital society, artificial neural networks are for the first time unfolding their disruptive potential. We are experiencing the hour of “machine learning” and other applications of “artificial intelligence”, which are no longer programmed by us, but “teach themselves from data”. Even though these systems have no intelligence like we humans do, they still herald the transition from mere automation to autonomy. Technology thus becomes even more powerful.

Humanizing Technology!
But what should technology be able to achieve in the future? And what role do we humans want to play? We must redefine our place in the digital world and focus on ourselves and our desires. It is a matter of clarifying our needs, our values and our self-image as digital citizens and we have to ask ourselves confidently how technology can help us to implement these ideas. We must ensure that digital spaces are designed in such a way that we can feel comfortable and secure in them and that we have the sovereignty over our data. We have to demand that applications of “artificial intelligence” are transparent and not black boxes, and we have to ensure that the design of interfaces between humans and machines is oriented towards our needs and not the other way round, that we have to adapt to machines.

Humanizing Technology” stands for all this. It is the challenge and demand to develop technology that is useful and meaningful for us as individuals and as a society and to design this technology in such a way that all of us can use it in a simple and intuitive way. “Humanizing Technology” means re-evaluating technological progress. What it doesn’t mean, however, is that technology is merely becoming more likeable, more trustworthy or cooler – and can be better sold by the IT industry.

On the basis of selected artistic projects, Ars Electronica, CAFA and the Design Society show with what great sensitivity and keen intuition artists have been analyzing, visualizing and commenting on the Digital Revolution and its disruptive effects for 40 years now. And the show illustrates the high level of expertise that (media) art possesses in involving a broad public in a discourse on the future that is based on critical ability, self-confidence and optimism. “40 Years of Humanizing Technology – Art, Technology, Society” can be seen at the Sea World Culture and Arts Center in Shenzhen until February 16, 2020.

Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA)
The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) is one of the most renowned art academies in China. CAFA focuses on contemporary art with educational programs in fine arts, design, architecture and the humanities. The Academy enjoys worldwide recognition in the field of art education.

Design Society

The Design Society is an innovative cultural initiative whose international network includes partners from the fields of art, education, science and business. The aim of the Design Society is to overcome traditional boundaries between cultural territories and to promote new forms of cooperation and creative practices.

Ars Electronica EXPORT
Abuja, Athens, Bangkok, Berlin, Bilbao, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Doha, Florence, Kiev, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Osaka, Beijing, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Tunis, Venice, Zaragoza – since 2004, Ars Electronica EXPORT has been collaborating with partners from the fields of art and culture, science and education, business and industry on projects all over the world. The spectrum ranges from exhibitions, presentations, conferences and workshops to performances and interventions. All these activities are always inspired by the countless ideas and visions from Ars Electronica’s worldwide network.

Meandering River – Onformative (DE), kling klang klong (DE) / Fotocredit: Onformative / Printversion

Pluto and Proserpina: Proserpina#E_07 – Quayola (IT) / Fotocredit: Quayola (IT), Courtesy of bitforms gallery / Printversion

The Art of Deception – Isaac Monté (BE), Toby Kiers (US) / Fotocredit: Vanessa Graf / Printversion

The Wall of Gazes – Mariano Sardón (AR) in collaboration with Mariano Sigman (AR) / Fotocredit: vog.photo / Printversion

Modified Paradiese: Dress – AnotherFarm (JP) / Fotocredit: AnotherFarm / Printversion