Ars Electronica Jury - Interactive Arts + 2018
Interactive Art + 2018 Jury Statement
Minoru Hatanaka, Maša Jazbec, Karin Ohlenschläger, Lubi Thomas, Victoria Vesna Interactive Art was introduced to Prix Ars Electronica as a key category in 1990. In 2016, in response to a growing diversity of artistic works and methods, the “+” was added, making it Interactive Art +. Interactivity is present everywhere and our idea of what it means to engage with technology has shifted from solely human–machine interfaces to a broader experience that goes beyond the anthropocentric point of view. We are learning to accept machines as other entities we share our lives with while our relationship with the biological world is intensified by the urgency of environmental disasters and climate change that some still deny. Media artists are asking questions and staging interventions to raise awareness about the urgency of these issues and the need to take action NOW. The + sign encompasses questions of how we interact with the established news media—the online community has opened doors for the public to engage, question, and interact with current events. This year the Jury perceived how the + sign symbolized the interconnectivity of humans, animals, bacteria, machines and everything else—the ecology of the collective mind. Applications are invited for this category every two years and this year we received more than 1,000, which resulted in a highly competitive and diverse short list of applicants. The Jury took a contextual approach to this vast landscape of artistic practices and conceptual focuses by identifying hubs of discourse and practice methodologies/areas. These included Robotics, AI and computation, environmental sensing, memory, knowledge and human connection, materials and tools, methodologies in creative practice, new economies and socio-political concerns. The mood of the community is as diverse as the works, yet an underlying echoing discourse pertaining to the anthropogenic and conversely Life—through prismatic lenses of environmental, human and artificial forms, was present in this year’s applications. AI and computation, the contextual hub of robotics, were represented by a range of works that, rather than engaging in the manipulation of life on a biological level, are developing the essence of life as an artificial entity. A common trend in the submissions from the field of robotics projects was how to create a spark of being in an artificial body—with works transmitting the last words of farewell and prayers of a dying person into the robot software; seeking life-likeness—computational self, and environmental awareness; autonomous, social, and unpredictable physical movement; through to the raising of a robot as one’s own child. This is just a small sample of the artificial ‘life sparks’ in this year’s category. Interacting with such artificial entities draws us into both a practical and ethical dialogue about the future of robotics, advances in this field, and their role in our lives and society. At the same time, many powerful works that deal with social issues were submitted. The Jury felt that even if ALife, AI, and robotics seem separate to some, it is important to show how they are connected. Freedom of speech, labor, and our environment are all deeply influenced by the machine algorithms and pretty soon we will stop being able to tell the difference between them. This raises a lot of issues for the shifting landscape of the global economies. Social networks have entered the establishment and are being manipulated by various interest groups. Personal data and value is used in ways that threaten the basic ethics of shared public spaces, potentially creating a two-tier society. Empathy for the Other—whether we’re talking about gender, nationality, or economies has to be the central quality that informs interactions between humans, animals, machines, and robots.