How will we be living in the near future? The Ars Electronica Festival is focusing on an important issue that has been grabbing and holding our attention in so many respects of late: the city as habitat. The city, it would appear, is humankind’s most successful survival strategy, and still our greatest social experiment. More than half of the world’s population now lives in this planet’s cities. People’s aspirations—to survive, to find a better way of life, to live a lifestyle of their own choosing—have accelerated the widespread mass relocation from rural areas to urban centers.
Timetable with Program Highlights
Live streams from the PostCity
Rethinking the City
For these and other reasons, the rethinking of the urban habitat has already gotten underway, and the Digital Revolution has added new dimensions to this experiment. All over the world, people are coming up with exciting ideas for new architectures and forms of social organization that are able to keep up with the changes the next few decades will bring.
Ars Electronica 2015 is focusing on four thematic clusters: Future Mobility, Future Work, Future Citizens and Future Resilience. How will developments—those already in progress and prognosticated shifts—be changing how our cities look and function? How will the city do its job as a transportation hub, as a workplace and marketplace, as the setting of a community,
and, not least of all, as a stronghold and place of refuge?
The City “Afterwards”
POST CITY is the urban sphere afterwards—the city in the wake of all those changes that will perhaps constitute the greatest and most momentous upheaval in recent centuries: digitization, global shifts of political and economic power, climate change. This is a development that some call a looming crisis and others see as the dawn of a better day. In any case, the urban reality of tomorrow is already taking shape today.
The Metropolis as Immigrants’ Destination
Cities will almost certainly be most strongly affected by involuntary mobility. The city is the #1 destination of 21st-century migration, and national borders are incapable of stanching it. As far as mobility within the city itself is
concerned, all signs point to a situation like the one that will prevail in the workplace: the coexistence of human beings and intelligent robots. Though the question of whether the city of tomorrow will even be able to provide sufficient jobs remains open.
Co-determination and Security
The organization of this coexistence in the wake of the birth pangs of Digital Society also raises exciting questions. What political models will emerge from the Digital Revolution? What governance systems can satisfactorily nurture digitally networked citizens’ capacity to act, the social capital of the future? And ultimately, the role of the city as safe haven for its citizens will really be put to the test in times of cyber-crime, total surveillance and climate change.
POST CITY Venue
For this wide-ranging artistic-scientific confrontation with these questions, Ars Electronica has come up with a location that
couldn’t be more suited to the Festival theme: POST CITY, the former Austrian Postal Service logistics center immediately adjacent to Linz’s main train station. 80,000 square meters of space is available in this structure that cost 1.6 billion schillings to build, and in which, until 2014, a workforce of 1,000 sorted about 100,000 packages and 15,000 bundles of mail per day.
Infrastructure in XXL
This was the site of a 4,000-meter-long parcel sorting system, storage space for 10,000 packages, a battery of 12-meter-
tall spiral chutes and, last but not least, a 240-meter-long loading/unloading facility for freight cars. For the 2015 Ars Electronica Festival, this logistics center is temporarily morphing into POST CITY, an open urban lab for the Linz populace and festivalgoers from throughout the world. As always, there are additional venues around town: the Ars Electronica Center, the OK Center for Contemporary Art, Central, St. Mary’s Cathedral, the Brucknerhaus and the LENTOS Art Museum