Monday, February 2, 2009

ARS ELECTRONICA - re:shaping a city's cultural identity

30 years ago the first Ars Electronica festival took place in Linz, Austria. Ars has grown to be one of the most influential Media Art festivals and centers worldwide. But while much has been written about it, and still more will be talked about its history when Ars celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2009, there has not yet been a comprehensive study about Ars Electronica's influence on the local community and its impact on the cultural development of Linz. This paper investigates the socio-cultural and artistic traces Ars Electronica has left on the city of Linz. This Media Art historical account also details a very personal history, as the author, being four years old at the time of the first festival and amazed by its fireworks display, remembers the festival's beginnings from her personal experience and – having worked for Ars Electronica's Futurelab for many years - from a professional perspective as well.

The main question of this talk is how the then marginal field of art, science and technology, placed in an even more marginal, working-class and steel-producing city contributed greatly to the creation/development of a new cultural identity of the city, the art scene and the community as a whole. My investigation into the histories of this cultural institution focuses on the regional impact, regional being interpreted as geographically located/rooted as well as interpersonally built.

written in 2009

a live-photoshop presentation - shown at:
artboom festival, Krakov, June 2010 (thanks to Joanna Walewska, who presented it!)
media art histories program, Danube University Krems, May 2010
re:live conference in Melbourne, Australia, November 2009
the upgrade! Chicago, November 2009