1084 N MILWAUKEE, CHICAGO

ARS ELECTRONICA

re:shaping a city’s culture
A Talk by Austrian New Media Scholar, Nina Wenhart

ninabig

October 21st, 2009

Abstract:
30 years ago the first Ars Electronica festival took place in Linz, Austria. Ars has grown to be one of the most influential Media Art festivals and centers in the world. But while much has been written about it, and still more will be talked about its history when Ars celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2009, there has not yet been a comprehensive study about Ars Electronica’s influence on the local community and its impact on the cultural development of Linz. This paper investigates the socio-cultural, artistic and geographic traces Ars Electronica has left on the city of Linz. This Media Art historical account also details a very personal history, as the author, being four years old at the time of the first festival and amazed by its fireworks display, remembers the festival’s beginnings from her personal experience and – having worked for Ars Electronica’s Futurelab for many years – from a professional perspective as well.

The main question of this talk is how the then marginal field of art, science and technology, placed in an even more marginal, working-class and steel-producing city contributed greatly to the creation/development of a new cultural identity of the city, the art scene and the community as a whole. My investigation into the histories of this cultural institution focuses on the regional impact, regional being interpreted as geographically located/rooted as well as interpersonally built.

Keywords:
Ars Electronica, history, art, science, technology, regional context, regional history, institutional history, community, media art institution, media art festival, cultural festival, open space, public space

Bio:
Nina Wenhart is an instructor for the “Prehystories of New Media” class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an independent artist/researcher. She is a graduate student at Prof. Oliver Grau’s Media Art Histories program at the Danube University in Krems. For many years, she was the head of the Ars Electronica Futurelab’s videostudio, where she created their archives and primarily worked with the historical material. She was four years old, when Ars Electronica started and has stayed connected with it ever since.



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