My first experience at “Ars Electronica”, which took place again in Linz (Austria), has come to the end: it was a very peculiar experience, as well as interesting and exciting. The festival’s theme for this year was about A.I (artificial intelligences), which is for sure a very actual theme as it receives a lot of attention nowadays, opening the world to a huge variety of opportunities.
In general, I really appreciated the setting of Post City, as it gave everyone the possibility to find “his own” path through the most attractive installations and projects. It seemed like being in a construction site, designed to fascinate and inspire the public. As I arrived to Ars Electronica, I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I was immediately attracted by the variety of solutions offered to overcome the “design limits” of the modern society. In my opinion, there were several works full of potential and opened to a development in many fields (industrial, artistic, etc.).
Most of all, I really appreciated this whole research of interaction among mankind, technology and the reality in which they cooperate. It’s useless to go on considering technology as something accessory ; after events like these, it gets easier and easier to realize that nowadays there’s no great difference between biological and “mechanical” life any more. Our reality is completely filled by technology and it is almost impossible to tell for how long technology will still be considered as a separate part of our daily life. Instead of running away from this “invasion”, we should face this connection as an opportunity to explore and upgrade our reality.
It was very interesting to see how it’s possible to “give life” to technology and to bring it closer to very realistic mechanisms of casualty and unpredictability. The possibility to vivify your own fingerprint and to see it move around like a tadpole makes you forget that you are actually dealing with a machine, suggesting instead an idea of “birth” as well as other biological connotations. When you see that a telephone can become fertile ground for plants, you realize how thin the line between organic and inorganic can be.
The most fascinating theme of the festival was with no doubt this permanent interaction between technology, sound, video, movement and life. As I had the opportunity to create sounds through the electric conductions of the body, or to move distant objects thanks to specific sensors, I was able to see myself and the other people as “protagonists” of the moment instead of mere “spectators”. This created a strong link between the surrounding reality and us.
I also found really interesting the analysis of relations between fashion design and robotics. Beyond researches about new materials and new ways to make clothes more “interactive”, there were two projects in particular that attracted my attention: Synapse and Bodyscape. These fashion items integrate fabrication techniques with robotic and sensor technologies to explore how our wearables can become an interface with the world around us. Synapse is a multi-material 3D-printed helmet that moves and illuminates according to the wearer’s brain activity, while Bodyscape is a 3D-printed top that tracks human bodily movement using a gyroscope linked to LED lighting.
I was really enchanted by these two projects, it seemed like they were performing a dance; that made me clearly understand the sense of harmony and interaction between such different (but nevertheless linked) worlds.
My experience at Ars Electronica has been truly positive, since it was very inspirational and it offered me many ideas and food for thought. I really hope to have the opportunity to visit it again in the future.