2018 Ars Electronica Festival: Error – The Art of Imperfection

The 2018 Ars Electronica Festival is underway in Linz, Austria with the theme of ‘Error’ this year.

At what point does an error become a mistake, a fail and what makes it the celebrated source of unprecedented ideas and inventions?

When is an error an oversight and when is it intentional deception, a fake?

An error is a discrepancy from what we expect, a deviation from the norm … but what is the norm and who establishes it? An error doesn’t have to be a mistake; it can be an opportunity!

But how much tolerance can we summon up for such deviations, and is it enough for the leeway and latitude that are necessary to unleash their inherent productive power which can be harnessed for social and economic innovation? Or will we allow ourselves to be misled by the populist rhetoric of fear and social scoring?

Observing the current situation, one very quickly gets the impression that something has gone terribly wrong with the Digital Revolution and the 21st century. Millions of people feel that they have been defrauded of their sovereignty over their data and their privacy. Deception and fakery have become realities of everyday life, and influence public sentiment and the public opinion formation process. And hovering above it all is a diffuse anxiety of being left behind by the swift dynamics of development. Was the dream of a beautiful digital world an error, and how can we rescue this dream?

This day and age is characterized by a compulsion to achieve perfection and a seemingly unwavering faith in technology. And amidst this drive to optimize, to increase efficiency and raise productivity, and, in even more instances, merely to enjoy the possibilities that digital technologies and social media place at our fingertips, we put ourselves at the mercy of machinery that does its utmost to make lemmings of digital consumption out of us.

Big Data surveillance takes preventative action upon detecting any deviation from our habitual ways. And it is said that in the future, social scoring will do an even better job of optimizing our behavior and attuning it to social norms and standards. The more the technologies deployed for this purpose are perfected and made more efficient, the tighter our situation becomes. Whoever doesn’t fit in sticks out and gets cut.

But it is precisely this imperfection that offers the greatest potential for new solutions. Our objective should not be optimization, since this is merely a best-possible approach and adaptation to what we can now think and deem correct. Optimization leaves no leeway for the unanticipated, and thus no latitude to recognize and rectify what actually are undesirable developments or to come up with better ideas with which to set forth on alternate courses.

Effectively dealing with errors, risk tolerance and creativity are perhaps the skills that are most important for our future.

How many errors in the genetic sequences of living creatures did evolution have to make until LUCA (last universal common ancestor) became Homo sapiens 3.5 million years ago? And how many errors did Homo sapiens need to learn from in order to achieve our current state of development? And how much poorer in terms of experiences and insights would humankind now be if there had always only been “normal” people and the statistical mean … no other kinds, deviant thinkers, people of different colors, or those with alternative beliefs?

From Artificial Intelligence to Social Intelligence

To err is human, it’s said. Could that be why we’re incessantly striving for perfection and steadfastly believe we can attain it with technology and science, and in spite of the fact that there is nothing that we fear more than being eliminated by a world of machinery that functions perfectly well without us?

How can we rethink our very ambivalent relationship to technology as the driving force for configuring our future, and what errors should we perhaps not repeat in the process?

The call for social intelligence is now being juxtaposed to our enthusiasm for the digital world and artificial intelligence.

We are propagating the courage to welcome imperfection, since isn’t that quite possibly what will always set us apart from the machines!

2018 Ars Electronica Festival

Ars Electronica is once again summoning hundreds of artists, scientists, engineers, designers, technologists, entrepreneurs and social activists worldwide to gather in Linz September 6-10 to jointly investigate current technological and social interdependencies and their potential future manifestations. All of this will take place in public and together with people from all walks of life, since a defining aim of Ars Electronica is to take leave of the classic premises devoted to culture and scholarship and to stage an internationally unique festival of art, technology and society amidst the public sphere in downtown Linz. The festival locations are arrayed through the heart of the inner city—the former postal service logistics facility adjacent to the train station, St. Mary’s Cathedral, the OK Center for Contemporary Art, Moviemento and CENTRAL cinemas, Linz Art University, the LENTOS Art Museum, the Brucknerhaus, Ars Electronica Center and Anton Bruckner Private University. At these diverse venues, ideas and visions, works of art and prototypes, performances and concerts engender temporary settings conducive to leeway and latitude, and provide inspiration to the many festivalgoers who come to partake of them.

…in POSTCITY

The festival hub will once again be POSTCITY. Ars Electronica gets one more opportunity to breathe life into this mothballed postal service logistics facility and use it as a venue for such festival highlights as the Big Concert Night with Markus Poschner conducting the Bruckner Orchestra, the u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD festival, and a jam-packed lineup of conferences featuring stellar participants. Plus, POSTCITY offers Linz-based Ars Electronica yet another chance to position itself as one of the world’s largest and most interesting international fairs for creativity and innovation, and thus to network with associations, enterprises and educational institutions throughout the world.

More information: ars.electronica.art

Remains / Quayola (UK/IT) Remains is an ongoing project focusing on nature and the tradition of landscape paintings. High-precision laser scanners are used to capture natural landscapes at vast resolutions, resulting in complex digital renderings printed on large-format archival paper. The combination of highly detailed geometric reconstructions and the imperfections of the 3-D-scanning process create hybrid formations, somewhere in between the real and the artificial. While recreating similar conditions to ‘en plein air’ painters of the late 19th century, the natural landscapes are actually observed and analyzed through extensive technological apparatuses, and re-purposed through new modes of visual synthesis. Credit: Quayola 2018 Ars Electronica
Remains / Quayola (UK/IT)
Remains is an ongoing project focusing on nature and the tradition of landscape paintings. High-precision laser scanners are used to capture natural landscapes at vast resolutions, resulting in complex digital renderings printed on large-format archival paper. The combination of highly detailed geometric reconstructions and the imperfections of the 3-D-scanning process create hybrid formations, somewhere in between the real and the artificial. While recreating similar conditions to ‘en plein air’ painters of the late 19th century, the natural landscapes are actually observed and analyzed through extensive technological apparatuses, and re-purposed through new modes of visual synthesis.
Credit: Quayola
2018 Ars Electronica
Chicks on Speed / Alexandra Murray-Leslie, Melissa Logan Chicks on Speed’s Alexandra Murray-Leslie and Melissa E.Logan perform OBJEKTINSTRUMENTS. The group live-compose their self-made electroacoustic objects; High Heeled Shoe Guitar, Self-contained amplified hats &Theremin Tapestry culminating in an audiovisual performance art spectacle. The performance is in ollaboration with technologist Dr. Sam Ferguson & ostumes by Nina Kraine, Julio Escudero, department of Fashion&Technology, The University of the Art and Design Linz. Credit: Wolf-Dieter Grabner. 2018 Ars Electronica
Chicks on Speed / Alexandra Murray-Leslie, Melissa Logan
Chicks on Speed’s Alexandra Murray-Leslie and Melissa E.Logan perform OBJEKTINSTRUMENTS. The group live-compose their self-made electroacoustic objects; High Heeled Shoe Guitar, Self-contained amplified hats &Theremin Tapestry culminating in an audiovisual performance art spectacle. The performance is in ollaboration with technologist Dr. Sam Ferguson & ostumes by Nina Kraine, Julio Escudero, department of Fashion&Technology, The University of the Art and Design Linz.
Credit: Wolf-Dieter Grabner.
2018 Ars Electronica
Mother´s Hand Taste (Son-mat) / Jiwon Woo (KR) Mother´s Hand Taste explores the complex relationships between intangible cultural heritage, microbiology, immigration, and notions of a ‘transient self.’ Woo experimented with the control and development of generational inheritance by visualizing and then bio-fabricating the hand yeast of multi-generational family members across four global locations, to examine its effects on the taste of fermented food. Credit: Henneke Wetzer 2018 Ars Electronica
Mother´s Hand Taste (Son-mat) / Jiwon Woo (KR)
Mother´s Hand Taste explores the complex relationships between intangible cultural heritage, microbiology, immigration, and notions of a ‘transient self.’ Woo experimented with the control and development of generational inheritance by visualizing and then bio-fabricating the hand yeast of multi-generational family members across four global locations, to examine its effects on the taste of fermented food.
Credit: Henneke Wetzer
2018 Ars Electronica
SPHAERE / Gregor Göttfert (AT), Florian Kofler (IT) The installation SPHERE is comprised of a 65cm (25.5 inch) orb. The shimmering sphere seems to hover in the darkness of the room. Optical sensors slowly circle the object, scanning and monitoring the environment like radar and projecting a transient image of time and space onto the phosphorescent surface of the globe. Visitors and spectators become recognizable on the globe and with them the changed dimensionality of SPHERE: no longer is it just an image of purely spatial dimensions, but rather the factor of time, which manifests itself temporarily on the surface of the object through optical distortions and compressions. The slowly fading images offer a visual reflection on our very existence at the surface of a sphere. Credit: Ars Electronica / Vanessa Graf 2018 Ars Electronica
SPHAERE / Gregor Göttfert (AT), Florian Kofler (IT)
The installation SPHERE is comprised of a 65cm (25.5 inch) orb. The shimmering sphere seems to hover in the darkness of the room. Optical sensors slowly circle the object, scanning and monitoring the environment like radar and projecting a transient image of time and space onto the phosphorescent surface of the globe.
Visitors and spectators become recognizable on the globe and with them the changed dimensionality of SPHERE: no longer is it just an image of purely spatial dimensions, but rather the factor of time, which manifests itself temporarily on the surface of the object through optical distortions and compressions. The slowly fading images offer a visual reflection on our very existence at the surface of a sphere.
Credit: Ars Electronica / Vanessa Graf
2018 Ars Electronica
LightTank / Uwe Rieger (D/NZ), Yinan Liu (NZ) (arc/sec Lab) LightTank is a mixed-reality installation that augments a space frame structure with holographic line drawings. Using the anaglyph (red/cyan) stereo projection technique on transparent screens, the haptic-digital construction merges with its surrounding and blurs the boundaries between tactile and virtual. LightTank creates a communal immersive experience with an intimate responsiveness to its audience. The project was conceived by the arc/sec Lab for Digital Spatial Operations at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland. Headed by Assoc. Prof. Uwe Rieger, the Lab explores real time Reactive Architecture as a fusion of physical materiality and digital information. LightTank’s interface was developed in collaboration with the Augmented Human Lab at the Bio Engineering Institute. Under the lead of Assoc. Prof. Suranga Nanayakkara, the AHLab focuses on creating enabling human-computer interfaces as natural extensions of our body, mind and behavior. Credit: Rieger / Liu 2018 Ars Electronica
LightTank / Uwe Rieger (D/NZ), Yinan Liu (NZ) (arc/sec Lab)
LightTank is a mixed-reality installation that augments a space frame structure with holographic line drawings. Using the anaglyph (red/cyan) stereo projection technique on transparent screens, the haptic-digital construction merges with its surrounding and blurs the boundaries between tactile and virtual. LightTank creates a communal immersive experience with an intimate responsiveness to its audience. The project was conceived by the arc/sec Lab for Digital Spatial Operations at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland. Headed by Assoc. Prof. Uwe Rieger, the Lab explores real time Reactive Architecture as a fusion of physical materiality and digital information. LightTank’s interface was developed in collaboration with the Augmented Human Lab at the Bio Engineering Institute. Under the lead of Assoc. Prof. Suranga Nanayakkara, the AHLab focuses on creating enabling human-computer interfaces as natural extensions of our body, mind and behavior.
Credit: Rieger / Liu
2018 Ars Electronica
PRO Ars Electronica πTon / Cod.Act (CH) A long rubber tube, closed in a loop, is animated by contortions and undulations like an invertebrate body. Surrounded by a group of four dumb human beings equipped with sound halberds, the creature seems to try to release itself from this disturbing presence in vain. Its efforts and sufferings excite the curiosity of the four human beings and become the subject of primary and sophisticated polyphonic rituals only constituted by synthesized voices. Credit: Samuel Carnavali 2018 Ars Electronica

PRO
Ars Electronica
πTon / Cod.Act (CH)
A long rubber tube, closed in a loop, is animated by contortions and undulations like an invertebrate body. Surrounded by a group of four dumb human beings equipped with sound halberds, the creature seems to try to release itself from this disturbing presence in vain. Its efforts and sufferings excite the curiosity of the four human beings and become the subject of primary and sophisticated polyphonic rituals only constituted by synthesized voices.
Credit: Samuel Carnavali
2018 Ars Electronica
Infinite In-Between / Mojca Založnik (SI) Mojca Založnik is approaching the intermediate field between objectified medical diagnosis and anomalies that avoid this enforced objectivity. The quantum paradox is also known in quantum biology, from which she draws her inspiration for the artistic layout, in which the visitor with his presence and perception impacts the development in cell culture. Credit: Miha Fras and Kapelica Gallery 2018 Ars Electronica
Infinite In-Between / Mojca Založnik (SI)
Mojca Založnik is approaching the intermediate field between objectified medical diagnosis and anomalies that avoid this enforced objectivity. The quantum paradox is also known in quantum biology, from which she draws her inspiration for the artistic layout, in which the visitor with his presence and perception impacts the development in cell culture.
Credit: Miha Fras and Kapelica Gallery
2018 Ars Electronica
ObOrO / Ryo Kishi (JP) ObOrO is a lighting installation that generates unstable, accidental fluctuations. Illuminated globes float in space without any support from strings or wires, controlled only by the air vented from blowers. The globes of light drift around, subject only to this imperfect control, constantly rotating and vibrating like living organisms, charmingly precarious and fragile. Credit: Ryo Kishi 2018 Ars Electronica
ObOrO / Ryo Kishi (JP)
ObOrO is a lighting installation that generates unstable, accidental fluctuations. Illuminated globes float in space without any support from strings or wires, controlled only by the air vented from blowers. The globes of light drift around, subject only to this imperfect control, constantly rotating and vibrating like living organisms, charmingly precarious and fragile.
Credit: Ryo Kishi
2018 Ars Electronica