Hybrid: Living in Paradox

Digitization and globalization are bringing about worldwide processes of restructuring and intermingling of cultures, identities, disciplines and previously discrete fields, specialties and domains. The rapid ongoing abrogation of boundaries and fusions in art, technology and society will occupy the focal point of the 2005 Ars Electronica Festival.

2005 Ars Electronica Festival: The Theme

Nike products in Lagos, manga comix in Grieskirchen, Muslim headscarf-rappers in Berlin, ethnic look as accessorized lifestyle, media moguls as prime ministers-these are just a few examples of how borders are disintegrating and new identities are emerging in a globalized, technologized world.
Science, research, media, politics, art, cultural identity and the definition of physicality-boundaries are vanishing clear across all spheres and aspects of society. Traditionally separate domains are blending together to engender new products, alliances and forms of expression. The consequences of this trend that is increasingly encompassing and pervading all facets of human creativity are “mixed,” hybrid solutions like nanotechnology, bionic prostheses, culture jams, hybrid motors, podcasting and blogging-to name just a few. Via modern media and international networking, individuals have long since come to define themselves in terms of a cultural mix composed of highly diverse influences. This development is the source of insecurity among many different segments of the human community and triggers defensive reactions ranging as far as racism and fundamentalism.
“Hybrid – no other term provides such a consummately appropriate and comprehensive description of the highly paradoxical current state of our world, one that is characterized by interrelationships that, among other things, are extraordinarily contradictory,” is how Ars Electronica Artistic Director Gerfried Stocker sums this up.“Cultures are being superimposed upon one another and fused together, barriers are being broken down-national ones as well as those of a material, technological, psychological and ethical nature.”
An internationally unique series of presentations and events including symposia, addresses by artists, exhibitions and installations, concerts, performances, workshops, seminars and interventions in public spaces will be dedicated to elaborating on this theme.
Ars Electronica 2005
Linz, September Thu 1 – Tue 6
www.aec.at/hybrid

Hybrid Theory / Symposium

The essential driving forces behind the incredibly rapid and widespread development of hybrid phenomena recently have been new technologies. A select group of top-name international theoreticians, philosophers and scientists will undertake an analysis of the causes and consequences of and the deep-seated interconnections among these manifestations. Derrick de Kerckhove, head of the Marshall McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto and one of the world’s leading media experts, is curating the “Hybrid” theme symposium at the Brucknerhaus in Linz. Defining the fundamental issues he plans to address, De Kerckhove stated:“Hybrid, the symposium, wants to explore the receding or vanishing boundaries of identity, the strategies and patterns of how things mix, match and marry in design, architecture or recombinant engineering. […] A good question is: does the rising consciousness of the hybrid condition spell a permanent feature of a globalized culture, or merely a transition phase between the era of hardware and the era of software?” During four sessions scheduled for September 2-3, internationally renowned experts will convene in Linz to confront the basic principles and effects of the increasing amalgamation of all aspects of human existence and the waning of the limits that had formerly separated distinct realms.

Hybrid Art / Performances and Exhibitions

The artistic efforts being undertaken at the Srishti School of Art and Technology in Bangalore, India comprise a mixture of old artforms with modern media and, in doing so, become hybrid forms of expression between yesterday and today. The City of Bangalore itself is an example of a radically hybrid combination of different tendencies in a single region, one in which 700 slums are no less characteristic of the cityscape than a flourishing IT industry that has earned it the nickname “Silicon Valley of the East.”
On Linz’s Main Square, the Srishti School will be organizing a very special kind of music, video and light performance. Artists in Linz and in Malwa in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh will be linked up live to present a fascinating mixture of traditional artistic recital and international performance featuring a video and light show.
The Srishti School will also assume responsibility for this year’s Campus Exhibition at Linz’s University of Art and Industrial Design. The centerpiece of this installation will be the concept of freedom at the nexus of commercial interests and individual creativity. In the view of Geetha Naranyan, director of the Shrishti School and curator of the exhibition, the success or the ongoing development of a society ought to be measured to a lesser extent in accordance with the standards of economic progress. Much greater importance should be attributed to the ongoing development of personal freedom in the sense of the personal capacity for expression and improvement in the quality of life for all societies on a global level.
Theo Jansen is already “breeding” the seventh generation of his multi-legged walking critters designed to roam the Dutch coastline. His multifarious constructions-or perhaps “life forms“would be a more appropriate characterization-range from tiny creatures to immense yet surprisingly nimble behemoths that blend high-tech engineering and biological principles. They all have one thing in common:They move about on multiple sets of legs, and all of their movements are fed by gusts of wind, whereby Theo Jansen’s creations can also be said to represent a vision for futuristic, alternative forms of locomotion. In any case, one of his newest creatures already comes equipped with a saddle.
The Dutch artist has been constructing his hybrid forms at the interface of nature and technology for about 14 years. Jansen has constantly enhanced and upgraded his creatures in a process that he refers to as “evolution.”

Prix Ars Electronica

As the world’s most important competition in the cyberarts, the Prix Ars Electronica has been a trend barometer in the expanding world of media art since 1987. The centerpiece of the 2005 Ars Electronica Festival lineup is the Prix Ars Electronica awards ceremony staged jointly by the ORF – Austrian Broadcasting Company’s Upper Austria Regional Studio and the Ars Electronica Center in conjunction with the Ars Electronica Gala in the Brucknerhaus. The CyberArts 2005 exhibition at the O.K Center for Contemporary Art will showcase the projects singled out for recognition by the 2005 Prix Ars Electronica. The winners – outstanding proponents of media art from all over the world – will present and discuss their work within the framework of the Prix Forums. The conference being sponsored by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital Culture and Media Science will launch a new aspect of the Festival program.