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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 technologyCredit: “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 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
Branch Magazine: A Sustainable and Just Internet for All
Climate Action Tech (EU/Global)
The internet is the world’s largest fossil fuel-powered machine. If we continue business-as-usual, the IT sector will be responsible for 14% of the world’s carbon emissions by 2040. The creators of “Branch Magazine,” on the other hand, have a different vision for the future of the WWW: the Internet should serve our collective liberation and be committed to ecological sustainability. The online magazine “Branch” is intended to make a contribution to this.
- Groundbreaking artistic projects involving at least 2 collaborating artists, researchers or technologists driven by or resulting in digital humanity.
- 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.
- 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.
- Projects should not be older than two years or have to show a significant update or further development within the last two years.
- Quality of the artistic work and its potential influence on technology
- Quality and success of the collaborative practice
- Quality and sustainable impact for the areas of digital humanity and tech diplomacy
- Relevance and level of innovation & originality of the submitted work
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Projects should not be older than two years or have to show a significant update or further development within the last two years.
- 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.
- A video documentary (approximately 3 minutes in length)
- Images (JPG, TIF, BMP, PNG) at the highest possible resolution; compressed files (such as .zip or .lzh files) are unacceptable.
- 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.
- A printable portrait photo and a biography of the artist/creator/innovator
- At the entrant’s option, additional material such as images, documents and drawings (as PNG or PDF) can also be submitted.
- A creator may submit more than one work.
- Entrants are requested not to submit irreplaceable originals since submitted materials cannot be returned.
- 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).
- 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”.
- 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.
|Announcement and Call for Submissions||January 13, 2022|
|Extended Submission Deadline||March 14, 2022|
|Evaluation of formal requirements and preparation of material for jury members||ongoing|
|Jury meeting||April 2022|
|Information to the winners||immediately after jury meeting|
|Announcement and press conference||June, 2022|
|Presentation at Ars Electronica 2022||September 7-11, 2022|