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Innovation
Imagining the future

Each September, artists, thinkers, scientists and digital pioneers gather in Linz, Austria to help shape the future. Terry Stevens went along to experience this unique event


Last year, Attractions Management reported on the remarkable transformation of the Upper Austrian city of Linz, located astride the Danube halfway between Vienna and Salzburg. From being known as ‘Linz stinks’: this was a city of heavy industry and connections to the Third Reich. For 10 years, at the end of the second world war, it was a divided city with a Soviet-occupied northern zone and a US-occupied zone south of the Danube.

After 20 years of concerted effort built around a clear vision and strong civic leadership the city is synonymous with progress, vitality founded upon new media, culture, and progressive, sustainable, urban development. Central to this metamorphosis is Ars Electronica GmbH, the city’s unique, not-for-profit, hybrid cultural, educational, and applied science organisation dedicated to being a catalyst for change in this city with such an unenviable past.

Today, the company has multiple, integrated, divisions (Ars Electronica FutureLab and Ars Electronica Solutions) that inspire one another by putting futuristic ideas to the test, finding solutions, and sharing the processes and the outcomes with the public at the Ars Electronica Center and at the festival.

Exploring art, technology & society
Conceived by four Linz citizens (a journalist, a physicist, a music producer, and a musician), the first step taken by the embryonic Ars Electronica Institute was to organise a festival in 1979 exploring the confluence of art, technology, and society. The Ars Electronica Festival soon became an annual event, held in early September, adopting the title as The Festival of Art, Technology and Society.

It is a crucible for new talent to confront contemporary themes by exploring and testing the potential solutions in experimental, interdisciplinary settings working with artists, musicians, gamers, coders, and investors from all over the world. In recent years the themes have included Radical Atoms (2016), AI (2017), ERROR – the art of Imperfection (2018), A New Digital Deal (2021) Welcome to Planet B (2022), and this year the highly prescient and provocative theme was Who owns the truth?

The pure statistics of this year’s festival are impressive: 88,000 unique visitors; over 1,500 artists, scientists, designers, and activists from 88 countries presenting their ideas and inventions at 650 exhibits and 575 events; 338 sponsors and partners; and almost 500 employees. This only tells part of the story of this extraordinary few days in Linz where all dimensions of the theme Who Owns the Truth? were exposed and analysed.

Radical thinking
The rallying call of the festival organisers was that, “the world is on the cusp of a rare opportunity to dramatically shift our systems and ways of thinking, planning, and acting as a mood is emerging to make this possible. Solutions are in the air. We need to harness our collective imagination to rethink relationships. Creative and cultural sectors blending with scientific, technological, and artistic knowledge can be catalytic drivers to imagine a new future and make it happen.”

Participants and visitors were able to experience first-hand how new technologies are changing our lives through machine learning, VR, robotics, and biotech to contribute to socially and ecologically sustainable progress. Lectures, conferences, and debates provoked discussion about rights and obligations for digital citizens. A fixed point in the program of every Ars Electronica is the unique mix of concerts, performances, and DJ sets.

A particular highlight, since 1987, is the Prix Ars Electronica media art competition. A selection of the best submissions are on show at Ars Electronica at the Animation Festival held at Ars Electronica Center‘s Deep Space 8K 3D theatre. The Prix Ars Electronica’s equivalent of the Oscars is the Golden Nica’s awards presented at a gala event – this year’s Golden Nica award went to Ayoung Kim from Korea for Delivery Dancer Sphere.

Expect the unexpected
As the organisers state very clearly: “When you visit be prepared. This is not like a conventional festival in any way. Why would it be? You wouldn’t expect the city of Linz and the team at Ars Electronica to be conventional.”

Elements of the festival can be quite gritty, there is an air of rebellion, it challenges perceptions at every level. It addresses head-on uncomfortable questions affecting society then provides a platform for creating innovative, radical, solutions to these issues.

Even the main venue is a revelation. This is POSTCITY, the region’s former post distribution centre, with 80,000sq m of usable space spread over several levels, a 4,000m-long parcel distribution facility, a storage unit for 10,000 packages, an entire battery of 12m-high spiral chutes, and a rail track hall that is around 240m-long made for both incoming and outgoing railways. This enormous post-industrial icon of the city was abandoned in 2014 but offers almost limitless opportunities for artistic stagings. Festival events are staged across the city – public buildings, parks, old factories and in the most unusual of settings such as the Mariendom cathedral.

So how would you describe the Ars Festival? It’s eclectic, it’s full-on, it’s full of serendipity. It always inspires. At times the range of activities is simply overwhelming. You need to be well-organised and selective to get the most out of it. It’s an edgy version of Glastonbury meets POP Brixton or Borough Market, meets the Lake Como Design Festival meets Creamfields, meets the Sundance Film Festival meets the Adams Project, meets George Orwell’s 1984, meets Tomorrow’s World.

Taking over the city
Just as the Ars Electronica Festival takes over the city for four days filling the beer gardens of Gasthaus Tramway and Stiegel-Klosterhof with animated debate, so the spirit of Ars Electronica permeates many aspects of the city – the Mural Gallery at the old Harbour, the Voestalpine Stahlweit (steelworks visitor centre), Donaupark and the Bruckner Haus Concert Hall, the LENTOS Contemporary Art Centre and Tabakafabrik, a converted 340-year-old former tobacco factory into a centre for creative industry.

Capturing the wave of edgy creativity now sweeping through Linz, is the re-imagining of the Domplatz Square – the public space in front of the neo-gothic Mariendom cathedral. Planning of the square originally commenced in 1855, with the so-called ‘New Cathedral’ consecrated in 1924. However, Domplatz Square itself was always regarded as unfinished until a bold scheme was agreed to create a new urban planning solution with a generous, neutral space that permits a rich variety of uses. To the southwest of the square a cluster of existing baroque heritage buildings was enlarged to create an ensemble of mini-squares and alleys anchored by the Hotel Domplatz, which opened in 2009.

A hotel with a difference
The Hotel Domplatz was developed by a young tourism enterprise called Severin Holding GmbH who, mirroring the ethos of the Linz and of Ars Electronica, saw the opportunity to create a hotel that “was not business as usual”. Their approach was to envisage the hotel as ‘Kunst am Bau’ – architectural art. Unique artworks flow through the entire hotel: its public areas, the spa, the toilets, and the bedrooms.

It is within the bedrooms that spirit of the age is revealed. In every room is a wooden casket in which you will find a gift – look into the casket and be surprised what the previous guest left for you. Guests are invited to accept this gift and leave something for the next person.

According to the hotel management, the purpose of this activity is to encourage, “mutual perception through giving and taking, through active participation in an artistic event.”

Next year’s Ars Electronica Festival takes place 4-8 September. Register your interest now and prepare for days of enlightenment, wonderment and encounters that will shift the way you think about the world of tomorrow.

Highlights
The highlights for this non-technical but interested observer were undoubtedly:

• Yen-Tzu Cheng’s dance performance in the Mariendom Cathedral

• Ars Electronica Center’s pop-up exhibition for children by MISSIMO and designed by Ars Electronica’s FutureLab in the main city square

• The Circus of Knowledge at Johannes Kepler University

• The Future of Tourism led by Austrian Tourism

• The Breaking Clouds Kinetic Sculpture

• Venice Revealed by Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia/p>

• The Last Supper Interactive by Franz Fischnaller

• The European Space Agency ‘Earth From Space’ project

• The European Union Prize for Citizen Science Exhibition

ARS ELECTRONICA FESTIVAL 2024 – WHAT TO EXPECT
Commissioned projects

Throughout the year, Ars Electronica collaborates with partners worldwide to promote artists, launches Open Calls, curates exhibitions and conferences, and more. These commissioned activities culminate in the presentation of their outcomes at the Ars Electronica Festival in September.

Concerts and performances

Over the five days of the festival, Ars Electronica features a unique mix of concerts, performances and DJ sets.

Screenings

Visitors can watch a selection of the world’s best computer animations at the curated Animation Festival. Ars Electronica Center‘s theatre showcases 8K-resolution visual worlds by international artists via 16m-by-9m projections on the walls and floor.

Conferences

Ars Electronica offers range of talks, lectures and conferences, including a two-day symposium on the festival’s annual theme, which brings together experts and pioneers from the fields of science, art, design and technology.

Exhibitions

Exhibitions celebrate the best of the international media art scene as well as up and coming young artists. The Prix Ars Electronica Exhibition showcases the winners of the world’s longest-running media art competition.

Open labs and workshops

The festival is very hands on – open labs and workshops offer visitors the chance to watch artificial intelligence ‘think’, train self-driving cars, program robots, 3D print, edit their own DNA with genetic scissors and more.

Source: https://ars.electronica.art/festival/en/

The Ars Electronica Center hosts many of the festival’s talks and events Credit: Ars Electronica / Robert Bauernhansl
Around 88,000 people visited in 2023 Credit: Nicolas Ferrando, Lois Lammerhuber
Experimental performances blend technology, music, science and creativity Credit: Ars Electronica / Tom Mesic
Ars Electronica Center’s Deep Space 8K 3D theatre hosted varied events Credit: Ars Electronica - Magdalena Sick-Leitner
Linz blends the new and the old Credit: Ars Electronica / Robert Bauernhansl
Ars Electronica Festival takes over the city of Linz for four days each September Credit: Ars Electronica / Markus Schneeberger
Credit: Ars Electronica / Tom Mesic
Credit: Ars Electronica / vog.photo
Credit: Ars Electronica / vog.photo
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Innovation
Imagining the future

Each September, artists, thinkers, scientists and digital pioneers gather in Linz, Austria to help shape the future. Terry Stevens went along to experience this unique event


Last year, Attractions Management reported on the remarkable transformation of the Upper Austrian city of Linz, located astride the Danube halfway between Vienna and Salzburg. From being known as ‘Linz stinks’: this was a city of heavy industry and connections to the Third Reich. For 10 years, at the end of the second world war, it was a divided city with a Soviet-occupied northern zone and a US-occupied zone south of the Danube.

After 20 years of concerted effort built around a clear vision and strong civic leadership the city is synonymous with progress, vitality founded upon new media, culture, and progressive, sustainable, urban development. Central to this metamorphosis is Ars Electronica GmbH, the city’s unique, not-for-profit, hybrid cultural, educational, and applied science organisation dedicated to being a catalyst for change in this city with such an unenviable past.

Today, the company has multiple, integrated, divisions (Ars Electronica FutureLab and Ars Electronica Solutions) that inspire one another by putting futuristic ideas to the test, finding solutions, and sharing the processes and the outcomes with the public at the Ars Electronica Center and at the festival.

Exploring art, technology & society
Conceived by four Linz citizens (a journalist, a physicist, a music producer, and a musician), the first step taken by the embryonic Ars Electronica Institute was to organise a festival in 1979 exploring the confluence of art, technology, and society. The Ars Electronica Festival soon became an annual event, held in early September, adopting the title as The Festival of Art, Technology and Society.

It is a crucible for new talent to confront contemporary themes by exploring and testing the potential solutions in experimental, interdisciplinary settings working with artists, musicians, gamers, coders, and investors from all over the world. In recent years the themes have included Radical Atoms (2016), AI (2017), ERROR – the art of Imperfection (2018), A New Digital Deal (2021) Welcome to Planet B (2022), and this year the highly prescient and provocative theme was Who owns the truth?

The pure statistics of this year’s festival are impressive: 88,000 unique visitors; over 1,500 artists, scientists, designers, and activists from 88 countries presenting their ideas and inventions at 650 exhibits and 575 events; 338 sponsors and partners; and almost 500 employees. This only tells part of the story of this extraordinary few days in Linz where all dimensions of the theme Who Owns the Truth? were exposed and analysed.

Radical thinking
The rallying call of the festival organisers was that, “the world is on the cusp of a rare opportunity to dramatically shift our systems and ways of thinking, planning, and acting as a mood is emerging to make this possible. Solutions are in the air. We need to harness our collective imagination to rethink relationships. Creative and cultural sectors blending with scientific, technological, and artistic knowledge can be catalytic drivers to imagine a new future and make it happen.”

Participants and visitors were able to experience first-hand how new technologies are changing our lives through machine learning, VR, robotics, and biotech to contribute to socially and ecologically sustainable progress. Lectures, conferences, and debates provoked discussion about rights and obligations for digital citizens. A fixed point in the program of every Ars Electronica is the unique mix of concerts, performances, and DJ sets.

A particular highlight, since 1987, is the Prix Ars Electronica media art competition. A selection of the best submissions are on show at Ars Electronica at the Animation Festival held at Ars Electronica Center‘s Deep Space 8K 3D theatre. The Prix Ars Electronica’s equivalent of the Oscars is the Golden Nica’s awards presented at a gala event – this year’s Golden Nica award went to Ayoung Kim from Korea for Delivery Dancer Sphere.

Expect the unexpected
As the organisers state very clearly: “When you visit be prepared. This is not like a conventional festival in any way. Why would it be? You wouldn’t expect the city of Linz and the team at Ars Electronica to be conventional.”

Elements of the festival can be quite gritty, there is an air of rebellion, it challenges perceptions at every level. It addresses head-on uncomfortable questions affecting society then provides a platform for creating innovative, radical, solutions to these issues.

Even the main venue is a revelation. This is POSTCITY, the region’s former post distribution centre, with 80,000sq m of usable space spread over several levels, a 4,000m-long parcel distribution facility, a storage unit for 10,000 packages, an entire battery of 12m-high spiral chutes, and a rail track hall that is around 240m-long made for both incoming and outgoing railways. This enormous post-industrial icon of the city was abandoned in 2014 but offers almost limitless opportunities for artistic stagings. Festival events are staged across the city – public buildings, parks, old factories and in the most unusual of settings such as the Mariendom cathedral.

So how would you describe the Ars Festival? It’s eclectic, it’s full-on, it’s full of serendipity. It always inspires. At times the range of activities is simply overwhelming. You need to be well-organised and selective to get the most out of it. It’s an edgy version of Glastonbury meets POP Brixton or Borough Market, meets the Lake Como Design Festival meets Creamfields, meets the Sundance Film Festival meets the Adams Project, meets George Orwell’s 1984, meets Tomorrow’s World.

Taking over the city
Just as the Ars Electronica Festival takes over the city for four days filling the beer gardens of Gasthaus Tramway and Stiegel-Klosterhof with animated debate, so the spirit of Ars Electronica permeates many aspects of the city – the Mural Gallery at the old Harbour, the Voestalpine Stahlweit (steelworks visitor centre), Donaupark and the Bruckner Haus Concert Hall, the LENTOS Contemporary Art Centre and Tabakafabrik, a converted 340-year-old former tobacco factory into a centre for creative industry.

Capturing the wave of edgy creativity now sweeping through Linz, is the re-imagining of the Domplatz Square – the public space in front of the neo-gothic Mariendom cathedral. Planning of the square originally commenced in 1855, with the so-called ‘New Cathedral’ consecrated in 1924. However, Domplatz Square itself was always regarded as unfinished until a bold scheme was agreed to create a new urban planning solution with a generous, neutral space that permits a rich variety of uses. To the southwest of the square a cluster of existing baroque heritage buildings was enlarged to create an ensemble of mini-squares and alleys anchored by the Hotel Domplatz, which opened in 2009.

A hotel with a difference
The Hotel Domplatz was developed by a young tourism enterprise called Severin Holding GmbH who, mirroring the ethos of the Linz and of Ars Electronica, saw the opportunity to create a hotel that “was not business as usual”. Their approach was to envisage the hotel as ‘Kunst am Bau’ – architectural art. Unique artworks flow through the entire hotel: its public areas, the spa, the toilets, and the bedrooms.

It is within the bedrooms that spirit of the age is revealed. In every room is a wooden casket in which you will find a gift – look into the casket and be surprised what the previous guest left for you. Guests are invited to accept this gift and leave something for the next person.

According to the hotel management, the purpose of this activity is to encourage, “mutual perception through giving and taking, through active participation in an artistic event.”

Next year’s Ars Electronica Festival takes place 4-8 September. Register your interest now and prepare for days of enlightenment, wonderment and encounters that will shift the way you think about the world of tomorrow.

Highlights
The highlights for this non-technical but interested observer were undoubtedly:

• Yen-Tzu Cheng’s dance performance in the Mariendom Cathedral

• Ars Electronica Center’s pop-up exhibition for children by MISSIMO and designed by Ars Electronica’s FutureLab in the main city square

• The Circus of Knowledge at Johannes Kepler University

• The Future of Tourism led by Austrian Tourism

• The Breaking Clouds Kinetic Sculpture

• Venice Revealed by Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia/p>

• The Last Supper Interactive by Franz Fischnaller

• The European Space Agency ‘Earth From Space’ project

• The European Union Prize for Citizen Science Exhibition

ARS ELECTRONICA FESTIVAL 2024 – WHAT TO EXPECT
Commissioned projects

Throughout the year, Ars Electronica collaborates with partners worldwide to promote artists, launches Open Calls, curates exhibitions and conferences, and more. These commissioned activities culminate in the presentation of their outcomes at the Ars Electronica Festival in September.

Concerts and performances

Over the five days of the festival, Ars Electronica features a unique mix of concerts, performances and DJ sets.

Screenings

Visitors can watch a selection of the world’s best computer animations at the curated Animation Festival. Ars Electronica Center‘s theatre showcases 8K-resolution visual worlds by international artists via 16m-by-9m projections on the walls and floor.

Conferences

Ars Electronica offers range of talks, lectures and conferences, including a two-day symposium on the festival’s annual theme, which brings together experts and pioneers from the fields of science, art, design and technology.

Exhibitions

Exhibitions celebrate the best of the international media art scene as well as up and coming young artists. The Prix Ars Electronica Exhibition showcases the winners of the world’s longest-running media art competition.

Open labs and workshops

The festival is very hands on – open labs and workshops offer visitors the chance to watch artificial intelligence ‘think’, train self-driving cars, program robots, 3D print, edit their own DNA with genetic scissors and more.

Source: https://ars.electronica.art/festival/en/

The Ars Electronica Center hosts many of the festival’s talks and events Credit: Ars Electronica / Robert Bauernhansl
Around 88,000 people visited in 2023 Credit: Nicolas Ferrando, Lois Lammerhuber
Experimental performances blend technology, music, science and creativity Credit: Ars Electronica / Tom Mesic
Ars Electronica Center’s Deep Space 8K 3D theatre hosted varied events Credit: Ars Electronica - Magdalena Sick-Leitner
Linz blends the new and the old Credit: Ars Electronica / Robert Bauernhansl
Ars Electronica Festival takes over the city of Linz for four days each September Credit: Ars Electronica / Markus Schneeberger
Credit: Ars Electronica / Tom Mesic
Credit: Ars Electronica / vog.photo
Credit: Ars Electronica / vog.photo
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COMPANY PROFILES
TechnoAlpin

TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. With the Indoor snow division, TechnoAlpin c [more...]
iPlayCO

iPlayCo was established in 1999. [more...]
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
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The company was initially established in 1997. Terry Monkton and Andrew Roberts are the key stakeh [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

03-05 Sep 2024

ASEAN Patio Pool Spa Expo

IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
03-08 Sep 2024

Spa Peeps International Corporate Cruise

Cruise London, Amsterdam, Zeebrugge, United States
+ More diary  
 


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Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024

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