SIMPLICITY – The Art of Complexity

Our world’s increasing complexity and its tension-filled interplay with our own growing need for a comprehensive, comprehensible overview of the world will occupy the focal point of attention at Ars Electronica this year. A feature-packed lineup of events, conferences, symposia, exhibitions and performances will provide a detailed and comprehensive view of the state of the art of global media culture.

The program that’s been lined up for Ars Electronica 2006 is a wide-ranging encounter with possibilities and strategies designed to help us effectively manage the increasingly multi-layered complexity of our reality. “If we succeed in dealing with complexity in a constructive way and taking advantage of it, then this phenomenon that is increasingly dominating all aspects of our life opens up tremendous prospects for our future,” stated Ars Electronica Artistic Director Gerfried Stocker. “Coming up with intelligent, easy-to-use solutions for complicated, multidimensional tasks is currently the most pressing task that we face. That goes for information technology just as much as it applies to art and other facets of life in our society,” Christine Schöpf pointed out in stressing the importance of this year’s festival theme. Christine Schöpf and Gerfried Stocker are artistic codirectors of Ars Electronica.

Implementing new technologies, digital ones included, always entails social consequences that have to be taken into consideration. Among the pressing questions we face: How can computer programs be designed so as to minimize the obstacles that prevent individuals from accessing them? How can we more accurately grasp the concrete social impact of new technologies? What qualities must hardware possess in order to provide everyone—and not just the technocratic elite with access to it? How can we take optimal advantage of the opportunities that complexity presents in order to identify that which is essential for us in the flood of information with which we are deluged? And what role does art play in its function as avant-garde domain and field of experimentation amidst constantly multiplying data, more and more options, and permanent change?

A richly varied program and an incomparable atmosphere are the defining features of the Ars Electronica Festival, with the collaboration of John Maeda, a
designer with an international reputation, media artist, Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s MIT Media Lab in Cambridge MA, winner of numerous prizes, and a pioneering thinker about simplicity. In addition to symposia, conferences, concerts and exhibitions, a profusion of art projects installed in public spaces invites those partaking of them to engage in interaction, discussion and dialog. From August 31 to September 5, all of Linz becomes a stage set for media installations, screenings, sound sculptures and enthralling experiences for highly diversified audiences.

The complete program is available online at