Creative Convergences between Art and Science
While art and science once fed from a common source, the two disciplines were steered in separate directions at the end of the Renaissance. The rise of media art in the mid-20th century marks a turning point in this divergent development. Technological and scientific achievements were absorbed by art and advanced to become the raw material of aesthetic expression.
György Kepes, founder of the “Center for Advanced Visual Studies” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in 1956: “The larger the areas that are brought into the same scale and meaning, the more important becomes awareness of form relationships; we focus less and less on the facts themselves and more and more upon their interconnection. Thus, in its evolution, science approaches art.”
In the face of networked systems and life worlds, convergences between art and science are a powerful tool. They unleash creativity, which, against the backdrop of increasingly complex global challenges, is seen as the greatest source of hope for new approaches to solutions. For this reason, Johannes Kepler University Linz forged the alliance “Innovation through Universitas” with the University of Applied Arts Vienna in 2019, and deepened its cooperation with Ars Electronica.
Following last year’s great success, Johannes Kepler University has once again selected a series of university projects in the field of tension between art and research as part of a special call by the Linz Institute of Technology, which will be presented to the public for the first time on the international stage of the Ars Electronica Festival. A total of seven interactive installations and stagings, artefacts and VR applications use artistic approaches as vehicles for breaking down existing structures in the world of science.
Regarding the importance of multiphase flows for water treatment, exhaust gas purification or vaccine production, *Do You Feel Stressed* lets us immerse ourselves in the sound cosmos of bubble columns and provides insights into the laws of hydrodynamics.
In the form of space-consuming crochet and embroidery works, *A Student’s Perspective* visualises data sets that take into account the reality of students’ lives in times of pandemic distance learning.
The constitutional implications of the virtualisation of court proceedings due to Covid-19 are illuminated by the immersive installation *The Virtual Court. Reality*. Visitors find themselves as protagonists in a virtual trial about a controversial industrial plant project, which demonstrates the opportunities and risks that VR and AI technologies hold for legal decision-making processes.
Living chromogenic bacterial cultures form the dyes of an artwork entitled *Growing Colours: Patterning with Living Pigments*. This microbial textile painting illustrates the potential of environmentally friendly dyeing methods for the fashion industry.
With *Music Tower Blocks*, a music recommendation system was created that reacts not only to musical taste, but also to the moods of the user, through an artificial intelligence that sifts through user-generated content. The interface presents itself as a 3D visualization of a city that embodies the system’s entire music catalogue and presents collections of similar songs as skyscrapers.
A Synthetic Aperture Radar, usually used for remote sensing or in self-steering means of locomotion, sharpens the senses of the robot dog Spot. In the course of this project by the Department of High Frequency Systems and the Institute of Robotics at Johannes Kepler University, the prominent quadruped effortlessly navigates through a maze with extremely poor visibility conditions.
The current possibilities and limits of the use of machine learning are explored in three interactive worlds of experience at the LIT Robopsychology Lab. The first installation lures visitors into a forest where they collect virtual mushrooms with the support of an AI-based plant identification app, and have to judge whether or not they trust the artificial intelligence to identify poisonous specimens. The evaluation of AI-supported decision-making aids also determines the VR research game *Serum 13*, which focuses on the development of a vital drug. The video installation *Faces of AI* offers a critical examination of the media images of artificial intelligence, which often stir up fears or are simply false.
These activities at the intersection of art and science open up extraordinary perspectives that provide new insights and impetus for unexpected discoveries. The permanent anchoring of artistic-scientific projects in everyday research is therefore a long-term goal in order to significantly enrich the university’s culture of innovation.
Authors: Christopher Lindinger (AT) & Nina Fuchs (AT)
LIT Robopsychology Lab JKU Linz (AT)
Enabling a more democratic, realistic, critical, and constructive discourse will need a demystification of AI and the promotion of AI literacy among the general public. Against this background, the LIT Robopsychology Lab presents an interactive area consisting of several installations addressing topics such as the explainability of machine learning systems, joint decision-making with a voice assistant, and current media representations of AI.
Do You Feel Stressed
Mark Hlawitschka (DE/AT), Moritz Simon Geist (DE)
DO YOU FEEL STRESSED is an installation in which rising air bubbles create sounds in water,to form a soothing, mesmerizing soundscape that invites the visitor to watch, listen and relax. The sounds are picked up by underwater microphones and amplified through loudspeakers.
Sabine Hild (AT), Institute of Polymer Science JKU; Julia Moser (AT), Fashion & Technology, University for Art and Industrial Design Linz; Patrik Radić (AT), Microbiology TU Graz; Laura Holzinger (AT), Chemistry and Chemical Technology JKU
There are qualities to bacteria that we may not be able to experience through our senses only. Our project makes visible the hidden colors of bacteria in our immediate environment. It shows their potential in the dyeing process for textiles, to make the world not merely more colorful — more blue, or yellow, or red—but also “greener“ and more sustainable.
Andreas Stelzer (AT) Institute for Communications Engineering and RF-Systems JKU, Andreas Müller (DE) Institute of Robotics JKU, Reinhard Feger (AT), Hubert Gattringer (AT), Masoud Farhadi (IR), Robert Sturmlechner (AT), Richard Hüttner (AT) all JKU
The perception of the environment under even the harshest external conditions is a prerequisite for autonomous vehicles and machines. Using the example of a millimeter-wave radar in symbiotic connection with a quadruped robot, the principle of the synthetic aperture and the detection of obstacles or hidden objects are shown in a playful context.
Music Tower Blocks (EmoMTB)
Markus Schedl (AT) Florian Fritzl (AT) Franz Schubert (AT) Alessandro B. Melchiorre (IT) Oleg Lesota (RU) Emilia Parada-Cabaleiro (ES) Vasco B. R. Fragoso (PT) David Penz (AT), Christian Ganhör (AT)
EmoMTB lets you explore large music collections in a novel way by navigating through a virtual city built around your favorite music. Through the use of AI technologies, you will receive song recommendations based on your musical taste and emotional state.
A Student’s Perspective
Lisa Caligagan (AT)
Much like the aftermath of the past COVID semesters still lingers, the textile data cloud “A Student’s Perspective” hovers above us as a reminder, reflector and guide. Between countable minutes spent on Zoom and distances covered on walks, the visualization of distressing events overshadows the rest of the image.
The Virtual Court. Reality.
Law Lab (AT)
The hearing is a crucial element of administrative and legal proceedings. It cannot be neglected in authorization processes, e.g. for new industrial plants or road construction, or in civil litigation and criminal trials. During the pandemic, video calls became the makeshift solution for hearings. But the question remains: could these new technologies be of further value to the state of law? With “The Virtual Court. Reality” the LIT Law Lab seeks to answer this question by introducing the court of the future in virtual space. Bring VR headsets instead of briefcases!