Ars Electronica 2023: Unfolding Different Truths with Arts

Who owns the truth? Opening with this broad question, Ars Electronica 2023 ended on Sunday with 650 exhibitions, 575 events and over 88,000 visitors.

Homodyne / Erick Aguirre (MX), Kevin Blackistone (US), Jiaji Cheng (CN), Danica Golić (RS), Kathrine Hardman (US), Eunji Ji (KR), Polina Kliuchnikova (RU), Kateryna Pomeichuk (UA)

Spreading across different locations in the heart of Linz, the festival ended after five days of exhibitions, panels, and performances. The broad yearly themes allowed combinations of different artistic experimentations and creative approaches. Walking through the historical festival location POSTCITY, visitors could discover a variety of projects illustrating how different truths can intertwine and influence each other – rather than presenting a linear perspective on what the future of the planet and technology could be.

 With interdisciplinary talks and conferences, the festival presented a wide spectrum to think of the social implications of new technologies; the controversy behind narratives related to climate change; and how artistic and creative explorations can contribute to a shift of perspectives in society. These discourses and discussions were also translated into different forms through the myriad of artworks and creative projects presented at the festival.

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JIZAI ARMS / JIZAI ARMS project team (JP), The University of Tokyo (JP)

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StellaVerde / Gregor Krpič (SI), Simon Gmajner (SI), Dr. Jan Babič (SI), Dr. Marko Jamšek (SI), Gal Sajko (Jožef Stefan Institute) (SI)

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Metabolo / Valerie Tameu (IT)

The Ars Electronica Gardens Exhibition proposed a series of works combining nature and technology to highlight the importance of shifting to a holistic perspective rather than seeing these elements as separate entities. How can we imagine a more sustainable and ecological future without learning how to see and understand different truths intertwining with each other? From robotic arms creating fashionable clothing to futuristic worlds blurring the differences between natural and artificial life, the exhibition combined artworks and performances inviting the viewer to new perspectives.

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Fashion and Robotics / Creative Robotics, University of Arts Linz (AT)

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FORMATA / PЯОТO-ALIEИ PЯOJECT (CO/JP)

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Emils / Yuan Shao Wu (TW), Wei Chen Yen (TW), Chiao Ni Hsu (TW), Kuan Ju Wu (TW/US), Yasuaki Kakehi (JP), Chun Cheng Hsu (TW)

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TX-2/ MOONSHADOW / Adriana Knouf (US)

For example, the performance ‘Multi-Node Shell’ by Luca Pagan (Umanesimo Artificiale) explored sound as a language of the body in movement. With biosensor armour, the artist pushes neural networks to process data and dance within the space visualising body movements through sound. Meantime, the interactive installation ‘Hylozoic2 Hotspot’ by Marlot Meyer (V2_Lab for Unstable Media from Rotterdam) explored AI as a cultural tool to listen to internal biosignals and co-create life through the interaction of artificial, natural, and cultural interactions. While these two works focused attention on the invisible connection between bodies, space, and artificial life, the Taiwanese project ‘Sensory Voyage’ (Virtual and Physical Media Integration Association of Taiwan) led visitors on a dynamic journey into Taiwanese art worlds, including a performance with tea and dance to offer a taste of the Taiwanese cultural world.

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Multi-Node Shell / Luca Pagan (IT) presented by Umanesimo Artificiale (IT)

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Hylozoic² Hotspot / Marlot Meyer (ZA/NL)

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HIDDEN ORDERS_Microstructural Machine / Hsun Hsiang Hsu (TW)

Among other works, the IMPAKT project ‘CODE: Reclaiming Digital Agency’ invited visitors to play with cards and digital screens to re-think our agency as users, and find new ways to define our identities in the digital age. Along the same line, the project ‘Urban Belonging’ by Urban Belonging Collective (INT) invited visitors to point out different words they could relate to rethink their role as citizens and regain ownership of the physical space between urbanistic planning and new surveillance technologies.

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Urban Belonging Project Urban Belonging Collective (INT)

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Creative Collision Talk/ ISALA x ALMA Toolkit / Giulia Tomasello (IT), Leonore Vander Donck (BE), Caroline Dricot (BE), Joke Van Malderen (BE)

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The Restart Project/ The Right to Repair and Reuse your electronics

Winner of the CulturTech and Founding Lab Exhibition, the project ‘Art Meets’ by the remote team of curators Michaela Limberis (ZA), Precious Mhone (MW), Tammy Langtry (ZA) explored how apps can serve the African context and work to connect different visual ecosystems. Winning the main prize for social impact projects in culture and technology, the project represents the intention of promoting new approaches to technology to allow different elements to intertwine and influence each other for a more sustainable future.  

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Art Meets / Michaela Limberis (ZA), Precious Mhone (MW), Tammy Langtry (ZA)

While the Gardens Exhibition suggests a way to think about the future in terms of interaction and ecosystems, from earth to space, to nature to technology, the STARS and Prix Prize Award exhibitions showcased different projects to think of the present and find new ways to respond to fast digital and environmental changes. Exploring different symbolisms, the exhibitions invited a reflection on the present contradictions of new technologies and society. The Golden Nica Winner film ‘Delivery Dancer’s Sphere’ by Ayoung Kim (ISO) tells the story of Ernst Mo, an anagram of ‘Monster.’ The female delivery driver works for a platform called Delivery Dancers, running a never-ending delivery under the control of an algorithmic master in a fictional Seoul regenerating itself.

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Delivery Dancer’s Sphere / Ayoung Kim (KR)

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Massive Binaries / Andy Gracie (GB/ES)

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Broken Spectre / Richard Mosse (IE)

Playing with different media, the artists of the exhibition radicalized issues around society, the environment, and new technologies to explore how art practices can suggest new understanding. In the affiliated museum Francisco Carolinium Linz, the exhibition ‘An Exchange of Human and Artificial Intelligence’ explored different applications of artificial intelligence. From Sougwen Chung’s mechanical drawings, Emanuel Gollob’s interactive sculpture to Morehshin Allahyari’s Arabic generative portraits, artworks illustrated a more critical perspective on AI. Performer Silke Grabinger danced with a Boston Dynamics robot illustrating how intimate the relationship with technology is becoming.

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The Mirage Replicas 2.0 / Yen-Tzu Chang (TW), Photo- Yen-Tzu Chang

While Silke’s performance explored the intimacy of day-to-day life with machines, the performance ‘The Mirage Replicas 2.0’ by Yen-Tzu Chang (TW) uses technology and dance to explore generational differences within family and culture. Performing in St. Mary’s Cathedral, the show led the audience to an in-between world to think of the ambiguities arising from a cultural homogeneity of knowledge. Meanwhile, CIFO x Ars Electronica offered an overview of Latin American narratives and creative approaches through films and mixed media.

The audience could explore different exhibitions moving from the Ars Electronica Center, Art University, OK Linz, Stadtwerkstatt, or Arse Elektronika, a side event exploring a queer perspective on technology and sex. The combination of artworks, workshops, and performances celebrated dialogue between different perspectives and cultural approaches, seeing arts and culture as a shared ground to shape new ideas to understand the relationship between technology and society. Art explorations become an example to think of different uses of technology not only to shape technological development, but also to re-think our agency as users. The focus on art, technology, and society becomes a dynamic ground to look for new intersections and seek for multiple truths.