augmented dispatches from Linz


I’ve been at Ars Electronica since Wednesday and I’ve been running around like a mad thing trying to see everything. My trip out to the Hausruck was as mind-expanding as it was fun, as we searched for the source of truth in the Austrian forest on the Alpine foothills.

I have been lucky enough to be sharing a hotel with SymbioticA director Oron Catts and bio-artist Craig Hilton I must admit that a discussion on viral evolution and its implications for bioengineering was a bit much for me pre-coffee this morning, but last night at the Red Crab we had some very stimulating conversations about performance art.

It was there that I caught up with Prix Ars Golden Nica winner Marion Laval-Jeantet A truly inspirational and fascinating woman, Laval-Jeantet regaled me with stories of her childhood and self-experimentation all night, all the while holding but not drinking her beer: not being able to tolerate too much booze being a consequence of her prize-winning artwork May the Horse Live In Me, in which she injects herself with copious amounts of horse blood. The challenging synthesis of science and art that the work represents fits perfectly in the Ars Electronica remit, and evokes a strong reaction in most of its observers.

What is striking about most of the art presented here is its intellectual and interrogative basis. A consequence of the synthesis with digital media and science perhaps, it is sometimes hard to concieve that the works have been made as an expression of emotion in the way that non-scientific art often has. However, one piece stands out starkly in this regard: Metachaos by Italian Alessandro Bavari, which won the Computer Animation Golden Nica. This compilation of video, film and computer animation has an energy and aggressive vibrancy that sweeps you through its tumultuous 8 minutes of creation and destruction.

In fact, the u19 (under 19) winner, an animation by 13 year old Bernhard Riedl is so melancholically hopeful that it almost made me cry. Clearly if I want to be carried away on a more emotional level, I need to get myself down to this year’s film festival.

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