Ars Electronica Festival 2019

POSTCITY Linz, 5 – 9 September 2019

One of the world’s largest stages for media art, a festival for digital music, a playground for the next generation, a showcase for creativity and innovation – Ars Electronica is a unique festival for art, technology and society.

In 2019, the festival turns 40 and celebrates its anniversary with the most extensive program in its history. “Out of the Box – The Midlife Crisis of the Digital Revolution” is the title of this year’s Ars Electronica, gathering the pioneers and groundbreakers of four decades of digital revolution as well as award-winning artists, leading scientists and influential contemporary developers in Linz. Together they trace the lines of digital development, identify where we stand today and outline how things will continue. The pulsating and inspiring center of this reflection and speculation with the means of art and science is for one last time POSTCITY.. With its very special atmosphere, the huge and spectacular industrial architecture of this former postal distribution centre will once again shape the atmosphere and character of the festival. Further hotspots will be the recently completely redesigned Ars Electronica Center with its focus on Artificial Intelligence and the St. Florian Monastery, whose impressive architecture provides the perfect setting for the first ever “AI x Music Festival“ organized jointly with the European Commission.

Day 0: Pre-Openings

Wednesday, September 4, 2019. Before it really starts, it already started! With a first opening round, a pre-opening on the eve of the Ars Electronica Festival. “Ars and the City” is the motto of the exhibition at the LENTOS Kunstmuseum, that looks back on legendary and groundbreaking art projects that have taken place since 1979 on Hauptplatz, in Donaupark, in Voest and “on the countryside” and are still the subject of discussions today. Afterwards, the focus will be on the host university of this year’s Ars Electronica Campus: in the rooms of the Linz Art University, the Weimar Bauhaus University will present a large exhibition on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of this art, design and architecture school, which is so characteristic for European modernism. The final stop on this “evening before the Festival” is the new Ars Electronica Center. Under the motto “COMPASS – Navigating the Future,” everything revolves around the emerging revolution of artificial intelligence and the associated effects on our lives and self-image as human beings.

Day 1: History Day

Thursday, September 5, 2019. In the POSTCITY, the Ars Electronica Center, the LENTOS Art Museum, the OK in the OÖ Kulturquartier, the University of Art and Design, the Mariendom – at 10 a.m. sharp the gates of all locations’ of this year’s Ars Electronica Festival will open. For those who lose sight of the big picture or can’t decide, a guided tour from WE GUIDE YOU’ is a must! But you can also simply drift and let yourself be surprised and inspired – by legendary projects over the past four decades of media art at LENTOS or the best media art of 2019 at the CyberArtsShow at the OK, the inspiring works of art revolving around “Human Limitations – Limited Humanity” in the POSTCITY bunker, the artistic-scientific visions for a European way in the era of AI in the POSTCITY, the fresh to cheeky announcements of the next generation at CREATE YOUR WORLD’ , also at the POSTCITY, or the unusual artistic positions of the students of the University of Art and Design Linz, in – correctly – the POSTCITY!

Starting at noon, the Ars Electronica History Summit in the POSTCITY will focus on the 40-year history of Linz’s Ars Electronica and invite pioneers such as Hannes Leopoldseder, Herbert W. Franke, Christine Schöpf and many other visionary minds to join the stage who were involved in the design and development of this unique festival for art, technology and society. Finally, a round table with more than 30 speakers will highlight the art forms and practices that have emerged over the past 40 years.

In the evening, there will be two occasions to celebrate: this year’s winners of the Prix Ars Electronica and the STARTS Prize will be honored at the Award Ceremony, and the opening of Ars Electronica 2019 will be celebrated immediately afterwards under the motto “Unboxing the Festival“. Memo Akten and Tomomi Adachi improvise with AI systems, Ei Wada rocks the stage in his inimitable way, the Linz media artist Stefan Tiefengraber extracts various tones and sounds from the inner life of electronic devices, Vladislav Delay & AGF present Rakka perform as well as Ryoichi Kurokawa, and so on and so forth…

Day 2: Innovation Day

Friday, September 6, 2019. “Get Inspired” is the motto of the all-day Innovation Forum, which Ars Electronica is once again organizing together with the Upper Austrian Chamber of Commerce for regional entrepreneurs. Innovation is also the leitmotif of STARTS Day,’ which Ars Electronica is once again organizing in cooperation with the European Commission: The 30 best projects – including the winners – of this year’s STARTS Prize will be presented and discussed. Friday will also mark the start of the major conference on the festival theme of “Out of the Box – The Midlife Crisis of the Digital Revolution”. The cultural historian Walter Ötsch will present the current situation of the digital information society, while Martin Rauchbauer of Open Austria will analyze the state-of-the-art of artificial intelligence. Rachel Goslins, Director of the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Museum, filmmaker Hermann Vaske will then deal with the role of art, creativity and education. Amanda Cox of the New York Times and journalist Marta Peirano will analyze the state of information and disinformation in the age of AI. Finally, Roberto Viola, General Director of the European Commission, will address European strategies for the future.

Current trends in the field of computer animation are the focus of the Expanded Animation’ Conference, organized by Ars Electronica in cooperation with the FH OÖ Campus Hagenberg and taking place this time in the customs office building of POSTCITY, which also features the best animations from the Ars Electronica Animation Festival. In the evening, the Big Concert Night’ will be an absolute highlight of the festival, this time under the motto “Mahler Unfinished”. It all begins with Christian Fennesz and the “Mahler Remixed” session, before Markus Poschner and the Bruckner Orchestra Linz perform Gustav Mahler’s 10th Symphony – just like an AI-based interpretation of the viola theme orchestrated by Ali Nikrang of the Ars Electronica Futurelab. The orchestra is accompanied by the dance of the human (Silke Grabinger alias SILKFluegge) and the machine (several KUKA robots) and the poetic visualizations of Akiko Nakayama. From 10 p.m. Moritz Simon Geist will start the Ars Electronica Nightline in the POSTCITY with his robotic instruments.’ Alternatively, you can visit the Stadtwerkstatt, where the 5th edition of the 48-hour showcase show starts at 6 p.m. under the motto STAY UNFINISHED.

Day 3: AI x Music + Public Day

Saturday, September 7, 2019.’ Above all, there are three hotspots that will attract all the attention on the festival Saturday: Thanks to CREATE YOUR WORLD, the Internet flea market Yami-Ichi, the helpers’ conference and the organic farmer’s market, POSTCITY will be bursting at the seams, during the first top-class “AI x Music Festival” the monastery of St. Florian is going to be in the spotlight as host of the first ever “AI x Music Festival” and last but not least, the OK in the OÖ Kulturquartier with the CyberArts Show, the Prix Forums’ with this year’s winners of the Golden Nicas will be an attraction for all media art fans and with the traditional OK Night the hotspot for night owls.

But let’s stay in POSTCITY for now: With free admission, CREATE YOUR WORLD invites all young and young at heart creative minds to discover and try out new technologies, to do handicrafts, to program and film, to forge ideas for the future together with artists, developers, activists and unconventional thinkers and … to have fun! Anyone who needs to recharge their batteries in between should definitely look over to the organic farmers’ market in Upper Austria, who offer their organically sustainably produced delicacies right next door. Social sustainability will then be the focus of the helper’s conference, in which experiences are exchanged and determined on the basis of many examples of successful cooperation and mutual support. Finally, the BR41N.IO Hackathon of g.tec neurotechnology is about a meaningful technology contribution to the future – during 24 hours the participants have time to explore the potential of brain-computer interfaces and to break new ground.

From midday, shuttle buses will take you to St. Florian, a community of 6,185 inhabitants in the immediate surroundings of the city of Linz, famous across the borders for its magnificent Augustinian monastery, in which Anton Bruckner already acted. Exactly this monastery is the stage of the AI x Music Festival, organized for the first time by Ars Electronica and the European Commission. Numerous talks, workshops, performances and concerts will focus on the encounter between human creativity and technical perfection, with renowned personalities such as Hermann Nitsch, Josef Penninger, Renata Schmidtkunz, Amanda Cox, Christian Fennesz, Dennis Russell Davies, Maki Namekawa, Markus Poschner, Siegfried Zielinski, Sophie Wennerscheid, Ludger Brümmer, Anthony Moore. In addition there are internationally leading developers from the Yamaha R&D Division AI Group and Glenn Gould Foundation, from Google’s Magenta Studio, SonyLab, IRCAM or the Nokia Bell Lab, as well as various start-ups. In the evening a concertwill take place.

Meanwhile, in the OK in the OÖ Kulturquartier, everything revolves around the best media art of 2019. In the forums of the Prix Ars Electronica, this year’s winners of the Golden Nicas talk about their artistic projects, which can then be experienced right next door in the CyberArts exhibition. Late in the evening, the OK becomes the venue for the traditional “OK Night“.

Day 4: European Platform for Digital Humanism Day

Sunday, September 8, 2019.’ Sunday is clearly marked by European projects and visions. With a high-profile conference and a major exhibition, Ars Electronica underscores its self-image as the “European Platform for Digital Humanism”. This conference is part of the European ARTificial Intelligence Lab, which is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. The exhibition presents the 30 best projects of this year’s STARTS Prize of the European Commission plus a whole series of other installations, prototypes, research projects and networks that Ars Electronica is driving forward in another nine EU projects. The conference starts with the opening statement by Roberto Viola, Director General of DG CONNECT of the European Commission. Numerous lectures, talks and workshops will then offer the opportunity to work with artists, scientists, developers, entrepreneurs and activists to outline a European path into the era of artificial intelligence and thus, not least, a response to data capitalism à  la USA and data totalitarianism à  la China. At the same time and also in POSTCITY, the Ars Electronica Art Thinking Schoolwill be meeting, whose creative minds will apply Art Thinking to the challenges of the present – and the future – and dedicate themselves to the exchange of ideas and convictions at the Future Innovators Summit.

An absolute must for every festival visitor is the large exhibition on the theme of this year’s Ars Electronica: Deep down in the bunker of the former postal distribution center, numerous artistic installations revolve around the tense relationship “Human Limitations — Limited Humanity”. It’s about our longing and our urge to move beyond and overcome boundaries, also and above all with technology. And the question of how this affects us, our view on humanity and the world, and how it changes our lives.

Right next door, also in the spacious basements of the huge POSTCITY, the Gallery Spaces present international media art collections and galleries of the 21st century.

If you still don’t have enough or can’t get enough, you should pay a visit to the Ars Electronica Campus. 57 art universities, technical universities and media art departments from all over the world are presenting themselves in Linz this year – more than ever before. With the large exhibition “Interface Cultures” by the course of studies of the same name, presentations by the Fashion & Technology department, installations by the Laboratory for Creative Robotics and projects by the bachelor’s program “Time-Based and Interactive Media”, The University of Art and Design Linz’ is very prominently represented.

In the evening, Ars Electronica and pioneers from the past four decades will tell an “Episode by the River“: Sam Auinger, Wolfgang Fadi Dorninger, AGF, Christian Fennesz and others will pay tribute to the very first Klangwolke 1979 in an artistic homage to the Donaupark in front of the Brucknerhaus. The Stadtwerkstatt’ on the opposite bank of the Danube then takes over where the 48-hour STAY UNFINISHED project comes to an end at 6 pm.


Day 5: Music Monday

Monday, September 9, 2019. The Monday and last day of the festival is almost traditionally dedicated to music. Music Monday’ is an all-day tour packed with talks, performances, projects and installations on the theme of sound and music, culminating in an evening piano concert by Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies. The starting point of this guided tour is the Ars Electronica Center.

Anyone who has not yet made it to the Ars Electronica Center’s Deep Space 8K will once again have the opportunity to experience visualizations, concerts and presentations in this special setting – or to take another look at the many new exhibitions of the completely renovated and redesigned Museum of the Future.

As soon as Maki Namekawa und Dennis Russell Davies take a seat at their concert piano in the Gleishalle and perform Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird” and a new piano sonata by Philip Glass – the “Piano Sonata” by Philip Glass is incidentally the first Austrian performance of the piece commissioned by the Ruhr Piano Festival, the Philharmonie de Paris and Ars Electronica -, the Ars Electronica team will be forced to bid farewell to the impressive halls of POSTCITY!