3,177 entries from 71 countries-the Prix Ars Electronica attracted a record number of submissions once again this year. A total of ?117,500 in prize money is being awarded to the winners.

Linz, May 23, 2006 (Ars Electronica). The Prix Ars Electronica, a trailblazer in the cyberarts since 1987, is organized by the Ars Electronica Center in cooperation with the ORF – Austrian Broadcasting Company’s Upper Austria Regional Studio, the Brucknerhaus and the O.K Center for Contemporary Art. Four of its competitive categories – Computer Animation / Visual Effects, Digital Musics, Interactive Art and Net Vision – focus on digital media design. The introduction of the Digital Communities category in 2004 is emblematic of Prix Ars Electronica`s intensified confrontation with the impact art and technology are having on social developments. The u19 – freestyle computing category for youngsters and [the next idea] grant for up-and-coming artists showcase approaches to new media being taken by promising young creatives.

The number of countries represented is indicative of the Prix`s international importance. In addition to the major industrialized nations of the West, Ars Electronica`s activities are also having an impact in smaller countries in distant regions of the globe. Submissions from such diverse places as Azerbaijan, Thailand, Nigeria and Brazil underscore the Prix Ars Electronica’s intercultural reach.

A large contingent of experts from all over the world convened in Linz April 27-30, 2006. In a series of intensive sessions, seven juries of specialists evaluated a total of 3,177 projects. The verdicts were finalized on April 30, when the juries named the winners of six Golden Nicas, 12 Awards of Distinction and 73 Honorary Mentions. Two merchandise prizes are being awarded in the u19 – freestyle computing category: one to entrants up to age 10 and one to those 15 and under.

Once again, the prizewinning projects do justice to Prix Ars Electronica’s role as a barometer of current trends in the international media art scene.

2006 Prix Ars Electronica: Trends

When asked about general trends evident among the submissions to the 2006 Prix Ars Electronica, the competition`s artistic co-directors mentioned first and foremost that this year’s entries were indicative of more intensive involvement in social and political issues on the part of media artists.

“The dream of utilizing digital technologies to make human societies more democratic and more just has generally given way to the reality of ever-more-pervasive commercialization, but media artists are holding out against this development. They question conventional ways of looking at things and are coming up with creative ideas to strengthen individuality,” said Ars Electronica Artistic Director Gerfried Stocker.

“Something that has been of great concern to artists since time immemorial is thus being expressed in a creative new way by means of digital media, and this trend has further intensified this year,” according to Christine Schöpf, artistic co-director of the Prix Ars Electronica. In a public sphere that has been radically changed by new media in recent years, new technologies are thus becoming liberating means of expression beyond the realm in which shoppers and brand managers have their say.

2006 Prix Ars Electronica: Winners of the Golden Nicas

A total of six Golden Nicas are being awarded. The winning projects attest to the Prix Ars Electronica’s high-profile role as seismograph of global media culture.

A very short film entitled “458nm” is the winner in the Computer Animation / Visual Effects category. This is a simple but very remarkable story with a surprising twist by Ilija Brunck, Tom Weber and Jan Blitzer from the Film Academy of Baden Württemberg. Their superb direction, excellent use of filmmaking techniques and ingenious dramaturgy captivated the jury.

The Golden Nica in the Digital Musics category goes to sound pioneer Eliane Radigue for a contemplative piece entitled “L’îIe re-sonante.”

The winning project in the Interactive Art category, Paul DeMarinis’ installation “The Messenger,” takes telegraphy as its point of departure for an examination of the interrelationship of electricity and democracy. “The Messenger” deals with how electronic communications technologies, in addition to enriching our lives and experiences, also contribute to our loneliness and isolation.

“The Road Movie” by the Japanese artists group exonemo takes the Golden Nica in the Net Vision category. This project plays on the tradition of origami, the Japanese art of folding paper to form objects, and, by masterfully and nimbly merging it with the road movie genre, creates a Web project of a very special sort.

canal*ACCESSIBLE, winner in the Digital Communities category, is an ambitious project that combines new, generally available mobile technology with digital photography and places them at the service of individuals confined to wheelchairs as a way of enabling the handicapped to help themselves.

canal*ACCESSIBLE is an example of how modern technologies can contribute to strengthening and empowering socially disadvantaged segments of the population.
The winning project in the u19 – freestyle computing competition for young people is “Abenteuer – Arbeitsweg,” an animated film by Alexander Niederklapfer, David & Magdalena Wurm and Ehrentraud Hager, Linz youngsters age 13 to 15. It offers excitement and suspense, a wide array of optical effects and excellent pacing. The jury was also extremely impressed by the public relations work that accompanied the project, which featured a highly polished website including a trailer and a news service.

The jury awarded [the next idea] grant for up-and-coming creatives under 27 to Himanshu Khatri, a 23-year-old artist from India. “Aquaplay,” an ambitious application for displays, is based on air bubbles rising through a special fluid. This concept constitutes a completely novel idea and a dramatic contrast to pixel graphics.

Support from the Private and Public Sectors

The Ars Electronica Festival and the Prix Ars Electronica are financed by private-sector sponsors and subsidies from the public sector.
Ars Electronica is especially grateful to our lead sponsors, Telekom Austria and voestalpine. The Prix Ars Electronica is also supported by the City of Linz, the Province of Upper Austria and the Austrian Federal Chancellery / Art Section. Ars Electronica also wishes to thank KulturKontakt Austria, Casino Linz, Pöstlingbergschlössl, Sony DADC, Spring Global Mail and Linz AG.

The Prix Ars Electronica Gala: Highlight of the Ars Electronica Festival

The Prix Ars Electronica awards ceremony, a joint production of the Ars Electronica Center and the ORF – Austrian Broadcasting Company’s Upper Austria Regional Studio, is held during the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz’s Brucknerhaus. The prizewinning works will go on display at the O.K Center for Contemporary Art. This exhibition entitled CyberArts 2006 thus offers a detailed and comprehensive look at current developments in the digital arts. The prizewinners will discuss their works at the two-day Prix Artist Forums.

During the Festival, Ars Electronica will premiere a special u19 – freestyle computing exhibit that will run in the Museum of the Future until March 2007.

At the Ars Electronica Festival, Hatje Cantz Verlag will release a media package documenting the Prix competition. “CyberArts 2006” will consist of a comprehensive catalog, a DVD and a CD.

Organizers

The Ars Electronica Festival and the Prix Ars Electronica competition are produced by the Ars Electronica Center, the ORF – Austrian Broadcasting Company’s Upper Austria Regional Studio, the Brucknerhaus Linz and the O.K Center for Contemporary Art.

Cooperating partners are the Linz University of Art, the Lentos Museum of Art, Architecture Forum Upper Austria and Posthof Linz.