Ars Electronica 2021 -
A New Digital Deal

Artificial intelligence, robots, multi-media installations: Future technologies are already accessible today. Visitors experienced it all firsthand at the Ars Electronica Festival in "Kepler's Garden" at the Johannes Kepler University Linz campus or online.

The event featured exhibitions, concerts, talks, conferences, workshops, and guided tours in Linz and at 120 other locations around the world. This year, the thematic starting point for this journey around the world focuses on the demand for a "New Digital Deal", opens an external URL in a new window, meaning discussions about digital transformation in our society and just how a digital world would work.

The Festival Center at the JKU campus brought all of this to life and more. Installations and exhibitions took place at the Kepler Hall, the new Learning Center, as well as at the Circus of Knowledge, providing a main stage to support the fusion of science, academia, art, and technology. For the second year in a row, guests also experienced the event in a hybrid form. 


Ars Electronica Festival - A New Digital Deal


Johannes Kepler University Linz
Altenberger Straße 69
4040 Linz


September 8 - 12, 2021
(at the JKU beg. September 9)

JKU Projects at the Festival

30 inventions per 100,000 residents. This statistic places Linz well above the average in Austria. Linz is the UNESCO City of Media Arts and plays a leading role in developing cutting-edge technologies and materials. Much of the work takes place at the Linz Institute of Technology (LIT) at the JKU where research, innovation, and artistic expertise come together. Once again, this year's Ars Electronica Festival will provide a stage for selected LIT projects and installations that give us a glimpse into a unique, interdisciplinary body of work.

[Translate to Englisch:] Ars Electronica 2021

Music Tower Blocks (EmoMTB)

A city of music just the way you like it.

This audiovisual installation gives you an opportunity to explore large collections of music. The system works by creating a metaphoric city where similar songs are grouped into buildings; neighboring buildings then form districts of similar music styles. You can move around the city to explore different styles of music - and not just what you like to hear, but other styles of music you don't normally listen to. Meanwhile, underlying artificial intelligence (AI) is used to study your behavior and predict emotions. As a result, the houses in the city change and you get music recommendations more in tune to your current mood and emotional state. This installation not only opens up truly new and revolutionary ways to discover music, it has also been created to spark dialogue about just what AI is capable of, such as predicting personal information - such as emotional states and personality traits - based on a person's digital footprint.

Project Manager: Markus Schedl
Institute of Computational Perception / LIT AI Lab

Click here, opens an external URL in a new window to learn more about the project and watch a teaser video.

Music Tower Blocks - LIT Project - 2021 Ars Electronica Festival Music Tower Blocks - LIT Project - 2021 Ars Electronica Festival

Growing Colors

Creating colorful clothing using bacteria. 

Let us show you how bacterial pigments can be used to dye materials and create different colors, shapes, and patterns. This installation shows visitors that by making these colors visible, we can also detect the bacteria present in our natural environment. By combining this resource-saving and environmentally friendly dyeing method with new technologies, we open up completely new avenues to not only make the world more colorful - bluer, more yellow, and more red - but also "greener" and thereby more sustainable. 

Project Manager: Sabine Hild
Institute of Polymer Sciences

Click here, opens an external URL in a new window to learn more about the project and watch a teaser video

Growing Colours Growing Colours

The Virtual Court. Reality.

Experience a virtual court hearing of the future.

Imagine no longer meeting on-site at a construction project or at the scene of a crime during a local court hearing. As part of the "Virtual Court. Reality.", you will find yourself as one of the parties in a virtual courtroom and during a local, virtual inspection, you have the opportunity to stand up for your rights. By independently taking part on-site, the installation includes digital sources, AI-supported tools, animated project plans, visualizations of expert projections, and/or exploring crime scenes using 360° technologies. This is just the start of everything that is possible. Virtual reality gives you a unique opportunity to use all of your senses and experience just how important new technologies are when it comes to experiencing the rule of law.

Project Manager: Michael Mayrhofer
LIT Law Lab

Click here, opens an external URL in a new window to learn more about the project and watch a teaser video.

Virtual Court, LIT Project - 2021 Ars Electronica Festival Virtual Court, LIT Project - 2021 Ars Electronica Festival

Feeling stressed?

Have you ever wondered what bubbles sound like?

"The Sound of Bubbles" is an installation featuring bubbles contained in columns of water that create sounds, thereby forming a soothing soundscape. By using underwater microphones, the sound is amplified and can be heard using speakers. The installation is made of five 2.5 meter-high plexiglass columns and LEDs for additional lighting effects. 

Project Manager: Mark W. Hlawitschka
Artist: Moritz Simon Geist

Institute of Process Engineering

Click here, opens an external URL in a new window to learn more about the project.

The Sound of Bubbles - LIT Project - 2021 AEC Festival The Sound of Bubbles - LIT Project - 2021 AEC Festival

A Student's Perspective

Discover your footprints during the past semesters during the Coronavirus pandemic.

A data-textile visualization titled "A Student's Perspective" is a visual display of both the mundane and defining moments during the past semesters. These are days that were spent in the classroom, the hours spent online at meetings, unanswered forum questions, and the walking distance covered in meters. In contrast, there are sudden events and despite the number of those events being small in number, they were nonethe less influential during this period of time, presenting themselves as oppressive cliffs but with scattered foothills in between. By openly addressing personal concerns, the installation invites viewers to take a minute and engage in dialogue about less rosy-looking perspectives but some that are nevertheless significant. 

Project Manager: Lisa Caligagan
LIT Robopsychology Lab

Click here, opens an external URL in a new window to learn more about the project and watchg a teaser video.

A Student's Perspective A Student's Perspective

The Magic Eye

...can see through walls and much more.

The Magic-Eye project not only coordinates the way a four-legged robot moves, the project incorporates radar technology (measuring millimeter-wave reflections in particularl) to make obstacles and hidden objects on the terrain visible. To create significantly higher resolution images of the environment, the robot uses mathematical transformations and data fusion resulting from the motion-spanned virtual aperture, also known as SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar). SAR involves combining highly integrated radar sensors with measurement and motion technology and in the future, this technology will play a key role in radar-based path-planning and map generation in automated vehicles.

Project Manager: Andreas Stelzer
Institute for Communications Engineering and RF-Systems

[Translate to Englisch:] Robotoerhund Spot

Demystify AI!

Using artificial intelligence to hunt for mushrooms

AI Forest is an indoor forest hiding mushrooms. Using an AI-based identification app, you - as a visitor - can fill up your digital mushroom basket. The AI will help you tell the edible mushrooms apart from the poisonous ones. You will also learn how the app classifies mushrooms and experience just how well it can do it. However,  the decision as to which ones you end up taking is ultimately yours.

Can you trust your AI assistant?

Serum 13 - A VR Trust Game involves being a virtual biotechnology lab and wearing a virtual reality headset and solving tricky tasks. While your AI assistant will be at your side giving you advice as to what to do, when exactly do you trust the AI and when do you prefer making your own decisions? Designed to spark discussion about autonomous human action, Serum 13 lets you experience collaborative decision-making with the help of decision support algorithms.

What kind of face does AI have?

Faces of AI is a large-scale media installation by the LIT Robopsycholology Lab based on fascinating findings from a large-scale image analysis. How will AI be visually represented in public? How many brains, robots or humans appear and in which colors? And see how JKU AI students assessed common media images as realistic.

Project Manager: Martina Mara
LIT Robopsychology Lab 

Learn more about "Demistify AI"!

[Translate to Englisch:] Demystify AI

Magic Darts

While darts is a popular game, hardly anyone can throw a perfect game. In this version however, players always hit the center of the target. What seems like wizardry turned out to just be a system of mechatronics, meaning a network of microwave sensors that can detect an oncoming dart. Algorithms analyzed the trajectory and then estimated the time and location of target impact. Ultra-fast hydraulic actuators were used to place the dartboard in a target position in just a few hundredths of a second. These kinds of technologies will influence life in the future in countless ways, assisting self-driving vehicles, for example, by using microwave radars so they can "see" in the dark and fog and by creating algorithms for self-driving vehicles to determine how potential obstacles will move. Once common drives advance, they can be used for a wide range of applications, such as being incorporated into exoskeletons to support maximum compactness, low weight and low-energy consumption.

Project Manager: Andreas Stelzer

Institute of Communications Engineering & RF-Systems

Exhibit Page

Watch video, opens an external URL in a new window

Magic Darts


A look back at the 2020 Ars Electronica Festival