Ars Electronica Festival: A New Digital Deal

The fact that digitization is changing our world is not new, but the way it is fundamentally changing what we do and how we do things is.

Rector Lukas at the 2021 Ars Electronica press conference.
Rector Lukas at the 2021 Ars Electronica press conference.

Now that we are in the third decade of the 21st century - meaning a time when we were promised self-driving vehicles, flying taxis, global prosperity and much more; and whether or not we want it or tend to be wary of it - we are in a time period when discussions regarding digital transformation are becoming louder. And yet we are more confused than ever before. In times like these, we need to stop and re-think the foundations of the digital world, or rather what we consider these foundations to be.

During Year 2 of the pandemic, a festival such as the Ars Electronica faces countless challenges and it is not just about content. As Europe's largest and most important platform for art, technology and society, it is also a matter of reflecting on our role and our responsibilities. Linz is - and will remain - the festival’s central hub. Along with the Johannes Kepler University Linz, a new partner is now in the mix. Gerfried Stocker, artistic director for Ars Electronica, remarked: "Our cooperation with the JKU is a milestone as it not only pushes the festival’s potential to another level, the interplay between art and science ultimately acquires strategic significance for Linz as a university and a location for business." The fact that the JKU - and it’s now architecturally redesigned campus - is also playing a key role by providing the perfect location for the festival is the "icing on the cake”.

JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas is also looking forward to the upcoming festival and added: "The Ars Electronica Festival is a unique platform where art, science and social challenges come together. I am delighted that the JKU campus will once again be transformed into Kepler's Garden. In addition to the Learning Center, the Open Innovation Center and the Kepler Hall, a new festival venue will be the brand-new Circus of Knowledge. Seven projects created by the Linz Institute of Technology, JKU scientists and artists will form synergies bringing technological research together with modern media art. Moreover, the new Technical University will also be the subject of the festival and for good reason."