ARS ELECTRONICA 1999

HAPPENINGText: Tomohiro Okada

When speaking of art festivals, many people believe they have to see the artwork properly and study with lectures and symposiums. That can be boring. However, there’s actually an art festival waiting for you full of excitement.

Every year many people visit from Japan spend their vacation there. This festival, resembling a seven day long theme park, is Ars Electronica. The longest and largest festival of media art is in its 20th year and is held in Linz, situated on the Danube.

This festival facilitates and implements the harmonious collaboration of art, technology and society, and features electronic/media art every year. It sets up each theme from the noteworthy events of the year and reflects the changes in the media and technology. Art events are held all day long over a period of one week.

Last year’s festival was pretty radical raising a ‘hacker tent’ that collected hackers from all over the world and laying mines in the middle of the square under the theme of "InfoWar". This year appealed to one’s intellectual curiosity with the theme "LifeScience", an examination on how art can face life-related technology. Lots of unique events were held here and there.

A good aspect of Ars Electronica is that people can casually enjoy the festival. You can choose your favorite events from among the program list. It’s absolutely impossible to experience all of the programs.

Walking along the Danube, I found a crane was hanging a huge speaker. Walking toward it, I heard the notes of a piano and found that Mychael Nyman was playing piano on the bank. He was playing toward the water on the grass during the early afternoon over a period of five days with the young musicians was remixing his play in real time.

The environment gave us peace of mind. Audiences surrounded him while reading books or stretching themselves or sitting down on the grass. Nyman said he enjoyed playing peacefully. It was really a peaceful afternoon.

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