Prix Ars Electronica Prize Winners to be Recognized at Ars Electronica Gala, September 5
2,703 projects were submitted from 77 countries for Prix Ars Electronica prize consideration in 2014. This year's competition was held in the following categories: COMPUTER ANIMATION (843 submissions), INTERACTIVE ART (782 submissions), DIGITAL COMMUNITIES (294 submissions), [the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant (128 submissions), u19 - CREATE YOUR WORLD (656 submissions) and, for the first time, VISIONARY PIONEERS OF MEDIA ART (117 nominations). The 2014 Golden Nicas go to Universal Everything (in Computer Animation), Paolo Cirio (in Interactive Art), Project Fumbaro Eastern Japan (in Digital Communities), Sarah Oos (in u19 - CREATE YOUR WORLD) and Roy Ascott (in VISIONARY PIONEERS OF MEDIA ART). This year's recipients of [the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant are Markus Schmeiduch, Andrew Spitz and Ruben van der Vleuten. The awards will be presented, as they are every year, at the Ars Electronica Gala in the Brucknerhaus in Linz on Friday, September 5, 2014.
Prizewinners by Category
Visionary Pioneer of Media Art
Roy Ascott (UK)
Visionary Pioneers of Media Art was launched this year. It differs from the other categories in two main respects. For one thing, it isn't awarded on the basis of a single outstanding project but rather to recognize an artist's lifework and impact on the international media art scene. For another, the jury that decides who the prizewinner will be is made up solely of those artists who have themselves been recipients of a Golden Nica since the Prix Ars Electronica's inception in 1987. In a first round, these men and women nominate their candidates; in the second round, they cast their ballots. The first VISIONARY PIONEER OF MEDIA ART to be singled out for recognition with a Golden Nica is Roy Ascott.
The British artist, theoretician and visionary thinker has been active since the 1960s, and his numerous publications and works have exerted a major influence on the global digital art community. Ascott has exhibited his works at such venues as the Venice Biennale, the Shanghai Biennale, the Milan Triennale, the Ars Electronica Festival, the Plymouth Arts Centre and the Incheon International Arts Festival in South Korea. In 1980 and thus even before the birth of the internet, Ascott presented one of the world's first online art projects on the ARPANET for universities. In 1983 in the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, Ascott exhibited "MuLa Plissure du Texte" (A Planetary Fairy Tale), a telematic project with artists in Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, Bristol, Sydney, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Toronto, San Francisco, Honolulu and Alma. In 1989, Roy Ascott appeared at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, where he presented "Aspects of Gaia: digital pathways across the whole earth," a computer network project in the form of an interactive installation. The core of this work was interaction among artists, musicians and scientists from different cultures and locations around the world. Roy Ascott is celebrating his 80th birthday this year, which makes it a perfect occasion to honor him with the Golden Nica as Visionary Pioneer of Media Art.
Computer Animation / Film / VFX
Computer Animation / Film / VFX / Golden Nica
Walking City / Universal Everything (UK)
Universal Everything's "Walking City" is a spare but stylish video that merges elements of sculpture, architecture and motion. What the viewer sees throughout the eight-minute work is an abstract, humanoid figure resolutely striding from left to right, constantly maintaining the same unwavering rhythm. While the sculpture keeps up its forceful but monotonous locomotion, its shape is undergoing incessant metamorphosis (though its color never varies from white). Matt Pyke's sculpture seems to be walking through the streets of a modern metropolis and, like a chameleon that changes colors to blend into its environment, reflects the surfaces, structures and materials of the surrounding façades. In combination with the soundtrack, a shuffle by his brother Simon, Matt Pyke's single-mindedly marching but continuously morphing "Transformer" exerts a nearly hypnotic effect.
"Box" is a short film that documents a live performance. It explores the synthesis of real and digital space through projection-mapping on moving surfaces. BOT & DOLLY regard "Box" as both an artistic statement and a technical demonstration. Their effort is the culmination of multiple technologies, including large scale robotics, projection mapping and software engineering. The result is a hybrid of art, technology and experimental filmmaking. "We believe this methodology has tremendous potential to radically transform theatrical presentations, and define new genres of expression," the makers of "Box" stated.
Computer Animation / Film / VFX / Award of Distinction
Shadowland / Kazuhiro Goshima (JP)
"Shadowland" is a 3-D short film by Japanese artist Kazuhiro Goshima. Night after night, countless vehicles wend their way through the world's metropolises, their headlights producing fleeting, moving shadows on the multifarious surfaces of these big cities. Over and over again, new shadows are cast-on a building's wall, for instance-and thus create a transient image of what transpires during a moment of city life. They're almost like memories no one's able to decode anymore. Amidst the cityscape's constantly changing countenance in the focus of the moving beams of light, space and time become disjointed and animated before the viewers' very eyes.
Art, activism and investigative journalism are what went into making Paolo Cirio's "Loophole for All." This project's attention is focused on the Cayman Islands, the world's fifth largest financial center and offshore tax haven. Paolo Cirio has stolen the identities of 200,000 companies registered here and is offering them for sale on his website www.loophole4all.com. What makes it possible is that registration in this Caribbean paradise can be done totally anonymously. So anyone can acquire a certificate that sets him or her up with the identity of a real company and thereby provides entrée to the financial world of the Caymans. The way Paolo Cirio sees it, everybody ought to have the opportunity to enjoy the same tax benefits that major corporations take advantage of. In this spirit, he describes his project as the attempt to democratize tax avoidance. Of course, the artist/activist's ultimate aim is to call attention to the global dimensions of this type of cheating and to put an end to it for good, though he has no illusions about this happening anytime soon, since the lobby he's taking on here is a pretty powerful one indeed.
Interactive Art / Award of Distinction
Balance From Within / Jacob Tonski (US)
Interpersonal relationships often prove to be a balancing act that succeeds only through ongoing give-and-take and adaptation. That also applies to "Balance from Within," a 170-year-old, 40-kilogram couch balanced semi-upright on one leg through the application of a robotic mechanism installed inside it. While the sofa attempts to maintain equilibrium, the installation's motors produce sounds that resemble muffled groans and creaking. Of course, a single imprudent movement (or even some smart-ass installation visitor) can cause the sculpture to come crashing to the floor. In order to minimize the resulting damage, the major components of the sofa are held together by magnets, so the pieces separate cleanly on impact and can be easily reassembled.
Interactive Art / Award of Distinction
Disarming Corruptor / Matthew Plummer-Fernandez (UK)
Disarming Corruptor, a new software tool created by Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, encrypts digital 3-D models in STL format in order to evade censorship. In a time of prolific online surveillance, crackdowns on file-sharing, and a growing concern for the 3-D printing of illegal items and copyright-protected artifacts, Disarming Corruptor is a free software application that helps people to circumvent these issues. Inspired by encryption rotor machines such as the infamous Enigma Machine, the application runs an algorithm that is used to both corrupt STL files into a visually illegible state by glitching and rotating the 3-D mesh, and to allow a recipient to reverse the effect to restore it back to its original form. The file recipient would need both the Disarming Corruptor application and the unique seven-digit settings used by the sender; entering the incorrect settings would only damage the file further. When a so-called patent assertion entity or law enforcement agency comes upon files like this on a sharing platform, all they see are abstract distortions as a preview image. Such files still represent the original object; they just have to be repaired by entering the seven-digit code.