A call to fiction and to new translation processes of our reality
Curators: Manuela Naveau (AT), Fabricio Lamoncha (ES), Maša Jazbec (SI)
“Is it possible that reality not only overtakes fiction, but precedes it, even anticipates it, in order to repair the damage that fiction will do in the first place?”
Umberto Eco, The Foucault Pendulum
We are told: Our world is changing, our ideas and needs are changing and we are changing. Dystopian visions of our future life on this planet face optimistic, mostly technology-driven promises of salvation and we are right in the middle, driven by powers and markets, desperately trying to orient ourselves.
Lev Manovich postulated at the beginning of the new millennium that we should turn to computer science to understand the logic of the new media, the new logic of our world. He already introduced the concept of “cultural transcoding” and referred to the universal possibilities of language, translation and interpretation that computer codes provide in connection with corresponding devices and also to the cultural new conception that manifests itself through our thinking and language on the basis of ontology, epistemology and pragmatics of the computer. Manovich wrote his book “The Language of New Media” in a pre-Smartphone era. The question that arises almost twenty years later is: What importance is (still) given to transcoding, translating, transforming? In other words: do we transcode because we want to and because we develop the tools ourselves, or are we manipulated in this direction with superior tools?
Transcoding, a term from computer science, is the invitation to our exhibition of young artists from the Interface Cultures department of Art University Linz on the one hand and to a possible active transformation of our thinking, functioning and “fictioning” on the other. Because transcoding in the conventional sense means the direct conversion from one digital coding to another, which usually does not take place without loss. But doesn’t loss mean a limited way of seeing? A view based, for example, on values such as “the original”, “the first and true”? What if we engage in a transformation process that respects the original but greatly appreciates the benefits of the new readability of the converted content? To what extent should a transformation not also question existing dispositives and not condition transcoding processes as well as imagination, the courage to fiction and the abandonment of reality and its security norms? Referring to Umberto Eco’s cynical opening statement: Yes, it is possible! Because we trust in anticipatory knowledge and are subject to the misbelief of having to correct everything in advance that could happen to us in the future. We sacrifice our imagination to a dead end reality and feel at the same time empowered to do so. But don’t we need fictions, illusions and thought constructions that can only be based on newly translated realities?
Knowing that technology will not save our world, we call for unsecured transcode! The Interface Culture Department of the Linz University of Art and Design is celebrating its 15th anniversary within the 40th anniversary of the Ars Electronica Festival. Reason enough to embark on a comprehensive transformation process and to examine processes of transcoding in particular and in general in the form of an exhibition, performances and presentations as well as discursive approaches.
Overview of projects
The Generative Adversarial Network
Wesley Lee Yang (BR)
Democratization of technology and information has not been the means of liberation and empowerment as it could have been. As described and discussed by the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, these developments have been co-opted to become mostly a means of commercial exploitation. These manipulation processes have moved from mass media to the internet and to the smart devices that are pervasive in our lives. Even when we don’t want them, it is impractical to function in society without owning and operating them. Adding insult to injury, not only are we exchanging our privacy, freedom and the health of our planet to devices that bring us convenience and comfort, but also doing it to have access to useless features, many of which create new problems for us—so that we will need or want the next “innovation.”
Amir Bastan (IR)
In Tarkovsky’s *Nostalghia* Andrei meets and befriends a strange man named Domenico, who is famous in the village for trying to cross through the thermal waters of Bagno Vignoni with a lit candle. He claims that when finally achieving it, he will save the world. Before leaving, Domenico gives Andrei his candle and asks him if he will cross the waters for him with the flame. *As promised* is an interactive installation which responds to the candle scene in Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia. In order to watch the complete candle scene, the user has to spin the anamorphic cylinder’s cap, find the correct velocity and keep it constant.
Che si può fare
Monica Vlad (RO), Johanna Falkinger (AT)
The theme of this performance is based on feelings of melancholy, sadness, fear of loss, meditation and anger and how music can be used in any way to express and release these emotions.
Andrea Rebok (AT)
The kinetic installation *Curly Cable* celebrates the presence, function, and aesthetics of spiral cables.
Wesley Lee Yang (BR)
For this year’s exhibitions graphic design, we not only wanted to develop attractive aesthetics but also to provide an appealing visual code that can be decoded in order to transmit information. It is with this in mind that the IC-Decoder was created: a ludic exploration of decoding potential information from visual patterns.
50 shades of forest
Afra Sonmez (TR)
A textile as an electronic instrument: the artist specifically for this performance created a flexible and modular interface of electronic textile consisting mainly of snap fasteners to make all parts freely movable.
Insert & Play
Jeon Hess (KR)
*Insert & Play* is a microwave that functions as a moving image projector to provide a viable media player. While the project is a celebration of technology and industrial progress, it is also a reminder of nostalgic actions; insert and play—a ritual between man and machine on the verge of extinction.
Knotting the Memory // Encoding the Khipu_
Patricia Cadavid H. (CO)
This performance wants to pay homage to the Khipu, reusing it as an instrument for interaction and generation of experimental live sound and video. The artist will be a contemporary *khipukamayuq* (Khipu knotter) who seeks to encode the interrupted legacy of this ancestral practice through the knots. With each knot made, an audiovisual composition is constructed that yearns to vindicate the memory and indigenous resistance of the native peoples of the Andes. Triality is an unconventional exploration of VR technologies that challenges the limits of our perception.
Jaskaran Anand (IN/AT)
MachinedHuman! is a performance-oriented interactive installation that questions the existing. We are presented with an enthroned instance, apparently half human and half machine. The heart of this entity can be controlled by the functions of the mouse. It reacts to the movement of the mouse and the mouse click leads to a search for the essence.
Meanwhile In China
Yang Mu & Sai Bao – Matthias Schäfer (DE), Sofia Braga (IT)
Douyin 抖音, internationally known as TikTok, has become one of the world’s most successful apps and a leading platform for creating and sharing short videos. It was developed by Beijingbased Bytedance and is one of the few apps that has been successful outside the big firewall. To comply with Chinese law, Douyin is a completely independent app from TikTok. Although the user interface and logo look the same, the content is completely different and not accessible in the international version. The goal of this work is to explore and analyze this vast digital ecosystem from different perspectives: screenshots capture a moment in a rapidly changing environment, determined by Douyin’s artificially intelligent recommendation algorithm. These found images are then decontextualized without change to give visitors space and opportunity to think about them and gain insights into a delimited platform and its algorithms used to show you the most engaging content.
A reactive poetry machine
Fabian Frei (CH)
*A reactive poetry machine* is an experiment that examines the outcomes of trying to teach a machine poetry. Will it forever produce poetry in different variations of the same kind or will it succeed in crossing the threshold and creating something new? The interactive installation invites visitors to the Ars Electronica Festival to spend a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the festival to reflect on AI, poetry and their relationship.
Stella Markidi (GR), Patricia Cadavid H. (CO)
*Screenshot TV* is an installation that invites visitors to watch a new genre of reality TV. Every few seconds, the TV shows another online screenshot, uploaded to a special website by anonymous people using a screenshot tool, so that the information can be shared by simply sending a URL. The URLs are usually sent privately, but are public and accessible to everyone. However, sometimes users upload screenshots that contain important and sensitive information and forget that the Internet is a virtual space with transparent walls.
Onur Olgaç (TR)
SELLOUT is a real-time game for two players. It is designed around the concept and dynamics of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Whether the players will cooperate with each other or sell the other one out is the core mechanic behind each round.
Julia Del Rio (ES), Jeon Hess (KR), Sergio Lecuona (ES), Matthias Schäfer (DE), Qian Ye (CN), Julian Reil (AT), Kevan Croton (US), Jürgen Ropp (AT), Tamiko Thiel (US), Stefanie Brayer (AT), Fabian Pointecker (AT), Markus Maureder (AT), Peter Haas (AT), Horst Grobner (AT), Oscar Ablinger (AT), Dominik Heigl (AT), Christoph Muellner (AT), Elias Wipfler (AT), Christoph Anthes (AT/DE)
In a mysterious laboratory, three participants have to synchronize to solve pending tasks. Each player perceives only one sense of the same virtual character and controls it: touch, hearing and sight. To solve the problems, the players must work together as one unit to gain a complete understanding of what is happening in the virtual world. Triality is an unconventional exploration of VR technologies that challenges the limits of our perception.
VR in Wonderland#1
Bàlint Budai (HU), Maša Jazbec (SLO), Aleksandra Mitic (SR), Jürgen Ropp (AT), Vanessa Vozzo (IT), Martìn Nadal (ES)
With the help of VR tools and devices for consumers integrated into our VR in Wonderland#1 system, the perception of the body of the participants in another room can be directed to a new perspective. Consequently, the VR in Wonderland#1 research setting actually makes it possible to manipulate the participants’ physical perception through self-localization. The natural view of the participants is replaced by the vision of a small robotic device running in an abstract city labyrinth model. While wearing head mounted displays and looking around, users can observe themselves from the perspective of the third person from below and above, leading to confusion about self-localization. This is a common approach where bodily illusions influence bodily self-awareness.
- Text: Manuela Naveau
- Christa Sommerer
- Laurent Mignonneau
- Manuela Naveau
- Maša Jazbec
- Fabricio Lamoncha
- Michaela Ortner
- Gertrude Hörlesberger
- Isabella Auer
- Sofia Braga
- Wesley Lee
- Onur Olgaç
- Giacomo Piazzi
- Antonio Zingaro
- Supported by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy under the Higher Education Structural Fund Austria.
- CURLY CABLE supported by Conrad.
- A REACTIVE POETRY MACHINE realized with the generous help of Giacomo Piazzi.
Maša Jazbec (SI), is an intermedia artist, curator and academic researcher. She holds a Ph.D. in human informatics, attained at the University of Tsukuba (Empowerment Informatics program) and MA in interactive art, achieved at Interface Culture program at the University of Arts and Design Linz, Austria. She is engaged and committed to the vision and execution of the Trbovlje New Media Setting project in Slovenia, and organizes projects and events integrating science, art, technology and society at the international new media culture Speculum Artium festival. She was a visiting researcher at Ishiguro Laboratory at ATR, Kyoto in Japan. Her projects, exhibited as artworks, have always shown her understanding of new media as a research artistic practice, stemming from artistic and scientific thought, linked to the current situation in the contemporary society. Her latest research interests are mostly focused in social robotics and android science. She presented her research at conferences such as Computer Human Interaction 2016, Human Robot Interaction 2017, ISEA 2017 and System Man and Cybernetics IEEE 2017.
Fabricio Lamoncha (ES) is an artist, designer and researcher. His practice explores the entanglements of media ecology and bioethics. After graduating Master of Arts at the Kunstuniversität Linz, he joined the Design Research Lab, Universität der Künste Berlin, leaded by Professor Gesche Joost. Since 2016 he is back as Assistant Professor at the Interface Cultures Master, Kunstuniversität Linz, program leaded by Professor Christa Sommerer and Professor Laurent Mignonneau, and in 2018 he started his PhD research under the supervision of Professor Sommerer. He is member of the UCLA’s Art|Sci Center, leaded by Professor Victoria Vesna, and regular instructor at the Sci|Art Lab+Studio summer program. His work has been exhibited internationally and awarded with the Art and Artificial Life International Award Vida14.
Manuela Naveau (AT) is artist and curator of Ars Electronica Linz and together with the artistic and managing director Gerfried Stocker she developed Ars Electronica Export. She teaches at University of Art and Design Linz as well as at the Paris Lodron University in Salzburg and the Danube University Krems. Her research investigates networks and knowledge in the context of artistic /scientific research methods and practices. Her book „Crowd and Art – Kunst und Partizipation im Internet“ (Crowd and Art – Art and Participation in the Internet) has been published in 2017 in transcript Verlag, Germany. The book is based on her dissertation, for which she received the Award of Excellence from the Austrian Ministry of Science, Research and Economy in 2016.