€ 10.000 prize money: Projects that demonstrate the power of cultural exchange and collaboration for the development of a human-centered digital world.

The submission is already closed.

Art and culture shape our common reality. They pose the question of what constitutes a human being in the digital world. Artists as cultural ambassadors are best equipped to identify the potential and pitfalls of our current digital transformation.

Cultural diplomacy is a powerful instrument to promote mutual understanding among nations and bolster societal change on a global scale. As such, it is uniquely positioned to advocate for a new digital humanism: A digital humanism that builds a just and democratic society with humans at the center of technological progress. Digital humanism ensures our needs and universal human rights are being met and works to preserve our human dignity. It shapes technologies in accordance with human values and envisions alternative pathways for human/machine interaction that are centered around diversity and inclusion in the creation, implementation, and adaptation of digital tools.

The Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity emphasizes in equal terms the humaneness and humanism that must dictate the development of new technologies. The award honors projects and artworks that inspire a fundamental rethinking in our contemporary approach to technology: It’s time to resign our roles as mere data-generating machines and actively partake in the shaping of our digital future.

Could digital applications be more oriented towards human needs and based on cultural values that respect the autonomy of users over their data? Could software solutions build on the values of cultural diversity instead of infrastructural uniformity? Could digital tools be increasingly of benefit in cross-culture collaboration, international cultural relations, and mutual understanding?

The Digital Humanity Award focuses on artistic projects that address social, cultural, and humanitarian issues in our digital society. It highlights outstanding examples of collaborative practices between individuals of different disciplines and backgrounds. Jury members will pay particular attention to artistic projects that transcend the mere reflection on the effects of emerging technologies to evoke sources of inspiration, open up new pathways towards a new digital humanism, and create empowering role models.

For example (but not exclusively) the following projects can be submitted:

  • art-science collaborations addressing global societal and humanitarian challenges
  • tech & cultural diplomacy as well as advocacy projects
  • artistic cross-border cooperation projects
  • citizen/community involved or generated projects and artworks
  • cultural diversity initiatives enabled through technologies
  • social software, open-source projects
  • cross-cultural educational projects
  • artistic projects anchored in the areas of digital government, democracy, governance
  • Human-centered AI projects and artworks
  • projects from the fields of arts, culture and journalism which aim to increase quality, confidence in and competence in dealing with social media
  • Projects that emphasize artistic technology solutions with an aim of safeguarding human rights, or point towards the UN’s sustainable development goals, or promote mutual understanding between different nations, minorities, and cultures.

Austria as an international platform for the fusion of art and technology

Credit: “Tycho; Test One” by Paul Friedlander, Photo: Ars Electronica / Martin Hieslmair

Starting in 2021, the BMEIA’s International Culture Department endows an annual prize of €10,000, which will be awarded by the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs and the Festival Ars Electronica at the Prix Ars Electronica Gala. With its commitment to digital humanism, Austria is establishing itself as an international platform for the fusion of art and technology (Culture Tech Hub), as provided for in the government program as an explicit goal.

New technologies must face up to an artistic debate or a humanistic worldview. Thus, new innovative applications, for example in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) or biotechnology, can be measured not only by their impact on our consumer behavior and the success of their business models, but also by their ethical, aesthetic and social orientation towards people and their well-being.

The prize fits programmatically into a new and innovative concept of international cultural relations and cultural diplomacy, which does not simply showcase national artistic or cultural production, but favors cultural exchange, people-to-people contacts and inter-cultural dialogue and cooperation. As a signature award of the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it emphasizes the openness and outward-looking spirit of the Austrian cultural, scientific and technological ecosystem geared towards collaboration and awareness of our common global challenges.

Digital Humanism

Digital Humanism wants to reflect new pathways to a digital society and invites audiences to imagine a new future: It’s time for us to resign our roles as mere consumers and data-generating machines. We must take responsibility for our futures. Couldn’t applications of digital technology oriented towards human needs and established social conventions, which respect the autonomy of users over their data, be just this competitive advantage? Or, in other words: Is it possible to create a digital society that fosters competition and generates value while also reflecting European values?

The global tech industry has been in a crisis for some time now, reflecting an overload of our society with the impact of new technologies (fake news, human downgrading, cyber crime, trade in personal data, etc.). The worldwide backlash (“techlash”) against the tech industry has now become a serious image problem for global internet platforms such as Facebook,Google and Co. In addition, surveillance systems such as AI-based face recognition are being used more and more openly in authoritarian ruled countries (e.g. China) to suppress human rights and for social control. A trend that has even been exacerbated in some countries by the opportunities and requirements in times of global pandemics.

For a new digital humanism, art and human creativity are irreplaceable as essential allies. In their dual function as humanists and futurists, artists are uniquely predestined to exert a positive influence on the development of technological innovation through artistic thinking and critical, unconventional reflection (thinking out-of-the-box).

Find more information on Ars Electronica’s European Platform for Digital Humanism:

Winner of the 2021 Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity

Jury

Teresa Indjein was born in Vienna. She studied law, music and languages and has worked in France, Poland, the US, Germany and Italy. She is Director General for International Cultural Affairs at the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Martin Rauchbauer is the first Austrian Tech Ambassador in Silicon Valley and Co-Founder of Open Austria. As an Austrian diplomat, Martin was sent to San Francisco in 2016 in order to open and establish his country’s first innovation outpost in Silicon Valley. Martin’s office helps Austrian entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers, and creative minds to connect with the biggest innovation ecosystem in the world. Martin has served in many capacities due to his passion for tech and cultural diplomacy, holding the local San Francisco chair of the European Union in 2018. Before coming to San Francisco, Martin was Deputy Director of the Business Support Service and Head of the UNESCO unit at the Austrian Foreign Ministry in Vienna. In 2014, he became CEO at the Österreich Institut GmbH, a cultural and language institute headquartered in Vienna with branches in 9 countries. Between 2011 and 2014 he served as Director of Deutsches Haus at NYU in New York City. From 2007 until January 2011 he was the Deputy Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York. Martin also served as Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Mexico City. Martin received his M.A. in International Relations and International Economics from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University in Bologna, Italy and Washington D.C. He also holds a degree in Philosophy and German Studies from the University of Vienna.
Clara Blume, Ph.D. works as a European cultural diplomat and artist in Silicon Valley, heading the Open Austria Art + Tech Lab to explore the interplay of human and artificial creativity. Set out as a laboratory for open and interdisciplinary collaboration, Blume curates, commissions, and promotes art projects that redefine what it means to be human in the age of artificial intelligence. In concert with Austria’s efforts in tech diplomacy, the Art + Tech Lab is working with policy makers from Europe and the US to advocate for a new digital humanism in tech. As President of the EU National Institutes for Culture Cluster in the Bay Area (EUNIC Silicon Valley) in 2019 and 2020, Blume co-founded and is president of art + tech + policy network The Grid (Art Powers Technology), supported with funding by the European Commission and Salesforce. Prior to her new role in cultural diplomacy, she worked as a professional musician, songwriter, and internationally touring recording artist. Blume studied music composition and fine arts at Academia de Bellas Artes, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain). She holds a M.A. in comparative literature and a Ph.D. in cultural studies and history from the University of Vienna. Blume is a regular conference speaker and a published author.
Manuela Naveau, Ph.D. is an artist, researcher, scientist and curator at Ars Electronica, where she developed the Ars Electronica Export department together with Artistic Director Gerfried Stocker and led it operationally for almost 18 years. Since 2020, Manuela Naveau has been a university professor for Critical Data at the Interface Cultures Department of the Kunstuniversität Linz and has held teaching positions and guestprofessorships at the Paris Lodron University in Salzburg, the Technical University in Vienna and the Danube University Krems. Her book “Crowd and Art – Kunst und Partizipation im Internet” was published in 2017 by transcript Verlag, Germany. The book is based on her dissertation, for which she received the Award of Excellence from the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy in 2016.
Gerfried Stocker is a media artist and an engineer for communication technology and has been artistic director and co-CEO of Ars Electronica since 1995. In 1995/96 he developed the exhibition strategies of the Ars Electronica Center with a small team of artists and technicians and was responsible for the setup and establishment of Ars Electronica’s own R & D facility, the Ars Electronica Futurelab. He has overseen the development of the program for international Ars Electronica exhibitions since 2004, the planning and the revamping of the contents for the Ars Electronica Center, which was enlarged in 2009, since 2005; the expansion of the Ars Electronica Festival since 2015; and the extensive overhaul of Ars Electronica Center’s contents and interior design in 2019. Stocker is a consultant for numerous companies and institutions in the field of creativity and innovation management and is active as a guest lecturer at international conferences and universities. In 2019 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Aalto University, Finland.
Martin Honzik is an artist and director of Ars Electronica’s Festival, Prix and Exhibitions divisions. He studied visual experimental design at Linz Art University (graduated in 2001) and completed the master’s program in culture & media management at the University of Linz and ICCM Salzburg (graduated in 2003). From 1998 to 2001, he was a member of the production team at the OK Center for Contemporary Art. In 2001, he joined the staff of the Ars Electronica Futurelab, where, until 2005, his responsibilities included exhibition design, art in architecture, interface design, event design and project management. Since 2006, Martin Honzik has been director of the Ars Electronica Festival and the Prix Ars Electronica and in charge of exhibitions in the Ars Electronica Center as well as Ars Electronica’s international exhibition projects.
Open Austria is the official Austrian representation in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of global innovation. It is a unique joint venture between the Austrian Foreign Ministry, the Austrian Trade Commission, and the Austrian Business Agency. Our mission is to connect Austria and Silicon Valley in the fields of business, technology, investment, tech diplomacy, and the arts. Moreover, we shed light on the vast creative and innovative potential of Austria, a high-tech nation in the heart of Europe. Join our active community and engage with our network in Austria, Silicon Valley, and beyond! Open Austria is represented in the jury by Martin Rauchbauer and Clara Blume.

  1. Groundbreaking artistic projects involving at least 2 collaborating artists, researchers or technologists driven by or resulting in digital humanity.
  2. A priority of the award are further those projects involving collaborators from two different nationalities/cultures or projects addressing a novel, artistic way of bridging cultures and strengthening cultural diversity in our digital society.
  3. Submission is only possible through entering in one of the Prix Ars Electronica or STARTS Prize categories. The Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity will be, however, evaluated through an individual jury.
  4. Projects should not be older than two years or have to show a significant update or further development within the last two years.

  1. Quality of the artistic work and its potential influence on technology
  2. Quality and success of the collaborative practice
  3. Quality and sustainable impact for the areas of digital humanity and tech diplomacy
  4. Relevance and level of innovation & originality of the submitted work
  5. General criteria such as aesthetics, originality, convincing concept, innovation and the technique and quality of the presentation

Proposal reception is only possible by using the foreseen submission platform and templates through one of the Prix Ars Electronica or STARTS Prize categories without exceptions. Submitters will receive a registration information, an acknowledgement of receipt of the submission, an information when the call is closed and an information on the decision of the selection through the platform.

The winner of the Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity will be awarded with €10.000,- prize money.

Artists / creative professionals (no matter if individuals or groups) or associations, public institutions, NGO and private enterprises clearly demonstrating artistic collaborative practices. Projects may be submitted only by an authorized representative. Purely commercial projects are not eligible for the prize competition.

  1. The submission phase for the Award for Digital Humanity will begin on January 13, 2022. The submission platform will be then accessible until March 14, 2022, 11:59 PM CET.
  2. Every submission to the Prix Ars Electronica and the STARTS Prize competition will be entered for consideration to the Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity. All Awards of Distinctions and Honorary Mentions will be automatically put forward as “Nominations” to the Jury. The Prix Ars Electronica and STARTS Juries can nominate further projects with strong relevance to the award criteria. Projects receiving the Golden Nicas will be automatically excluded from the Ars Electronica Award of Digital Humanity.
  3. Every submitted project must be, at the time of its submission, either totally completed or far enough along for the jury to be able to assess its quality and the likelihood of it being successfully implemented. The same applies to collaborative arrangements—at the time they’re submitted, they must already be up-and-running and in the implementation stage. No consideration will be given to entries that are purely concepts, ideas or proposals for collaboration.
  4. Projects should not be older than two years or have to show a significant update or further development within the last two years.
  5. There is no fee to enter the competition.

All materials will be submitted already via the Prix Ars Electronica categories. No additional submission steps are required.

  1. A video documentary (approximately 3 minutes in length)
  2. Images (JPG, TIF, BMP, PNG) at the highest possible resolution; compressed files (such as .zip or .lzh files) are unacceptable.
  3. A clear, detailed description of the concept, the form of interaction and technical implementation; since specific prerequisites have to be fulfilled for an onsite presentation to take place (e.g. in conjunction with the Ars Electronica Festival), the project’s specifications as to hardware & software and spatial requirements should be as detailed as possible. Moreover, the entrant must specify what he/she can provide on his/her own in order to stage such an onsite presentation, and what must necessarily be furnished by Ars Electronica Linz.
  4. A printable portrait photo and a biography of the artist/creator/innovator
  5. At the entrant’s option, additional material such as images, documents and drawings (as PNG or PDF) can also be submitted.

  1. A creator may submit more than one work.
  2. Entrants are requested not to submit irreplaceable originals since submitted materials cannot be returned.
  3. If an entry is awarded a prize, the material will be used and therefore cleared for any communication purpose from Ars Electronica and the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs (see entry rights).
  4. If entrants send in additional material pertaining to your submission via post, they need to mail it by the submission deadline (date of postmark is determinative) to the address of Ars Electronica using the Code “Prix Ars Electronica — Award for Digital Humanity”.
  5. Winners of the Award for Digital Humanity must make a commitment to accept their awards in person and to present their works at a conference during Ars Electronica Festival. Groups and institutions are requested to nominate a representative to fulfill this commitment. As guests of Ars Electronica, winners will receive complimentary hotel and economy class airline tickets for their trip to Linz.

The jury convenes always between April and May in person in Linz or online. The jury will be compiled out of Ars Electronica, the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs as well as external jury members from the Prix Ars Electronica.

If the submitted work is selected and honored by the jury the artist is committed to present the submitted work at the Ars Electronica Festival from September 7th to 11th, 2022.

Timeline

Announcement and Call for SubmissionsJanuary 13, 2022
Extended Submission DeadlineMarch 14, 2022
Evaluation of formal requirements and preparation of material for jury membersongoing
Jury meetingApril 2022
Information to the winnersimmediately after jury meeting
Announcement and press conferenceJune, 2022
Presentation at Ars Electronica 2022September 7-11, 2022