Since the late 1970s the Ars Electronica Festival has been at the core of activities and discussions around the emerging topics of the time which focused on the relationship between art, new technologies and science. The Festival is now in its 43rd edition with Welcome to Planet B. A Different Life is possible. But how?
Adopting a proactive perspective, a feature that has always historically characterised the event, the Festival does not reveal problems, but rather seeks to find solutions, even during one of the most critical moments in history, when the United Nations has declared that the current decade is the one in which our ecosystem restoration occurs.
But what will our world look like if we do make the change? What technologies will we still have to develop for it, and what economic, social and democratic changes will accompany them?
How will our life on this planet have to look to prevent ecological super disaster? What actions must we take and what consequences must we accept? How much persuasion, how much effort, how much pressure, how much coercion will be necessary, and what “collateral damage” will be involved?
These are the questions that revolves around the festival and the featured works and events. “Planet B – claims the press release – is not the second chance for another place where we can continue as before, it is the cipher for the indispensable, new and in many forms completely different life and action on this only planet that exists for us. It is the chance for coexistence with the unique ecosystems of this planet, a chance for a new and fair coexistence of humans on this planet.
Taking into account the diversity of the issues and their gravity, it seems clear that the starting point is human life and a different way of inhabiting the planet. With respect to technology, the approach seeks to mobilise all kinds of tools to optimise organisational logistics in order to reduce emissions and filter them back into the atmosphere. All this can only happen by taking into account individual improvement, going back to each person’s own conscience and a ‘reinvention of humanity’”.
In the last two pandemic years, Ars Electronica has experimented with several variations of its format. Home Delivery, still active today, brings Ars Electronica into homes with guided tours, lectures and presentations in Deep Space 8K, workshops with engineers and meetings with artists and scientists. The hybrid format of 2020, the first year of the pandemic, distributed the festival and its defining question in the theme, what should we do now?, to 120 locations around the world.
Now back in the centre of Linz with a rich programme of installations, events and meetings, Festival visitors will encounter a will to reinvent the future, from the perspective of a different life is possible. Last year the Award – divided into the categories Computer animation, interactive art +, digital communities, create your world and visionary pioneers – saw the addition of an award for Digital Humanity, thanks to the European Minister of Foreign Affairs, a project aimed at rethinking the way we relate to technology. In 2022, this award was presented to Sarah Newman (US), Kasia Chmielinksi (US) and Matthew Taylor (US) for their ‘Data Nutrition Project’. The Prix Ars Electronica for Visionary Pioneers of Media Art honoured Laurie Anderson, an icon of avant-garde media art, recognised for her political commitment.
This is an important moment for the Festival whose influence is growing with its institutional recognition. Over the years its themes have been able to grasp contemporary critical issues and project them purposefully into the future. Creating the Future is the theme with which the festival celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2019, before the start of the pandemic.
The Festival’s strong point has always been its ability to re-invent itself, adding something new each year, whether this is a new award category, a section or another innovation. In addition to the events, and the museum that has been added to the Festival as a landmark, Ars Electronica also highlights what is today’s indisputably important issue in what may be the last chance for humanity.
Ars Electronica Festival 2022. Welcome to Planet B. A difference Life is possible. But how?, 07 – 11.09.2022, Linz, Austria
images: (cover 1) Ars Electronica, Festival 2022, Poster (2) Jung Hsu, Natalia Rivera, «Bi0film.net: Resist like bacteria», 2022 (3) Kimchi and Chips, «Another Moon», Photo: Kimchi and Chips (4) Weidi Zhang, Donghao Ren, «Cangjie’s Poetry», 2022 (5) Stefan Mittlböck-Jungwirth-Fohringer, Johannes Pöll, and Johannes Lugstein, «11°22’4“142°35’5”», 2022, accordion noise and visual performance