Hannes Leopoldseder, Christine Schopf, Gerfried Stocker – Ars Electronica 1979-2009 the First 30 Years: The Network for Art Technology and Society

Hannes Leopoldseder

Hatje Cantz, ISBN 978-3775725231, Germany, 2009, English, German
Condensing thirty years of the Ars Electronica festival history into six hundred pages is the challenge of this book. It’s a tough task to make a selection and to deal with the inevitable incompleteness and redundancy, as the author’s disclaimer suggests: “the selection… by no means reflects any sort of evaluation with respect to quality or content.” Ars Electronica has played a pivotal role in tracking the history of electronic and digital art over the last three decades. Its annual festival is largely funded by the local industry and tries to include as many meaningful cultural trajectories as possible – hence an extraordinary quantity of projects. And the festival cannot be detached from its physical location: Linz, a city that has become internationally known in the art circuits because of the festival itself. For the people involved, reaching Linz has always being quite a journey, but once there, the points of reference through which to navigate the festival were easy to learn. For many, leafing through these pages would revive memories and generate flashbacks, especially as the hosting venues haven’t changed that much in years. So pictures taken in the Brucknerhaus, or in the OK Centrum shape the book both as a family album and as a statement on the amount of work done. If Ars Electronica has always tried to modulate the industrial obsession for the future in an eclectic way, this book succeeds in making a big picture of a long-lived festival.