Ars Electronica 2013 – The Highlights

Posted on | September 10, 2013

Like every year at the Beginning of September, one of my year’s festival highlights is taking place. Nope, it’s neither BURNING MAN – although I’ve been tempted for a while now to jump into this mind-widening desert experience – nor the cool tech fair IFA in Berlin which is heavily pushed in the  mass media these days. It is a festival called ARS ELECTRONICA which is taking place in a small Austrian city, called Linz.  Ars Electronica – that means immersing yourself in topics that represent the ‘zeitgeist’ in a merge of art, media and technology. Ars Electronica – that also means being confronted with a dense program of symposia, round-table discussions, art & sound installations and performances on such a highly intellectual level that you can only indulge yourself in the content, catch what you can and… occasionally try catching your breath.

The focus of this year’s festival highlighted a time-critical aspect: Memory and its storage – what is memory, how does it arise and how do we store it so it doesn’t get lost. A number of prominent brain researchers , computer scientists , philosophers and artists presented their views and future outlook. Topics such as artificial intelligence, future of data storage , and the preservation of emotional memories formed the base of an interdisciplinary debate  among the speakers but also with the audience.  The essence that I drew from my 3-day visit to the festival can easily be summed up with three words of Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass: “Remembering means choosing ” .

Here a few highlights of this year’s festival:



As a fan of the ‘make stuff yourself ‘ policy , I visited the AEC fab lab that invited me to design and build a solar- powered LED candle.




In a special performance, Daito Manabe (JP) and Satoru Higa (JP) present “Your-Cosmos”. This installation by Japan’s Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation and the Ars Electronica Futurelab is also a workshop in which participants can interconnect LED modules and thereby create their own world.


The investigation of biocultural diversity and identity that Koen Vanmechelen (BE) has been conducting since 1999 combines art, science and aesthetics. In his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, the artist has crossed species of chickens from many different countries.
The aim: breeding cosmopolitan poultry with genetic material from every one of the world’s chicken species.



Rain Room is a 100-m2 field of dripping water. The meticulously choreographed rainfall reacts so sensitively to installation visitors’ presence and movements that they can cross this high-precipitation zone without getting wet. By rAndom International (GB)

Photograph by Felix Clay.