Ars Electronica: Opening Up a New Chapter of Media Art Festivals


Ars Electronica is an international media art and culture institution in Linz, Austria and composed of four departments: the Ars Electronica Festival, the Prix Ars Electronica, the Ars Electronica Center, and the Ars Electronica Future Lab.

Ars Electronica started by journalist Christine Schopf, music producer Ulrich Rützel, copmposer Hubert Bognermayr, and physicist Herbert W. Franke getting together and holding the first Ars Electronica Festival in 1979. Located between Vienna and Salzburg, the centers of long artistic tradition, Linz was one of the industrial cities with severe pollution due to rapid industrialization at the time. To break from the city’s local image and establish its new identity, the four members of Ars Electronica set “art”, “technology”, and “society” as the major keywords for the further direction of the city’s development. Originated from this, the Ars Electronica Festival has been held in September every year up until today, being established as a world-renowned international media art festival.

Granting awards to the selected media artist from all over the world, the Prix Ars Electronica has started to made its name since 1987 by introducing collections of media art pieces and works. In 1996, the Ars Electronica Center and the Ars Electronica Future Lab, an experimental research department, were set up. Since then, the Ars Electronica Future Lab has continuously developed into an R&D institution that embodies new attempts in areas such as media art, architecture, design, interactive exhibition, virtual reality, and graphic. Renovated and extended into an ultramodern building marking the 30th anniversary of the Ars Electronica Festival and designation of Linz as the cultural capital of Europe, the Ars Electronica Center reopened in 2009, providing conditions not only for the festival to be operated for a certain period of time but for permanent exhibitions and educational programs to be arranged all year around. Under a new concept of “art museum for art of the future”, the Ars Electronica Center continues its study for exhibitions, performances, and creative activities, evolving by providing art programs for the citizens and applying advanced technology such as automated control system.

Ars Electronica connects the characteristics of the local tradition and the context of the ever-changing modern senses. The activities of the institution aim at creating the future by studying the social phenomena that are changing due to technical development and sharing them with researchers specialized in each area and connecting not only art, technology, and regions but the whole world together through media art.