A few years ago, a promising partnership between cordial and ARS Electronica has been developed. In the meantime we look back on numerous forward-looking events and joint actions and look forward to further steps. The following contribution to the 20-year cordial anniversary conveys an impressive picture of Ars Electronica.
Since 1979 the yearly festival focusing on art in these digital times has been transforming the placid city of Linz into the futuristic art center of the world for a few days. There is the Prix Ars Electronica competition within the framework of the festival and there are guest appearances worldwide. Our FutureLab focuses on interdisciplinary projects at the nexus of art, technology and society.
And there is, of course, our Ars Electronica Center, more than just a standard museum. It was established in 1996 and already enhanced and updated in 2009 indicating that things change fast here, indeed!
Martin Honzk is sitting in the rooftop restaurant of the impressive building enjoying the wonderful view of the Linz city center across the Danube. “Let me outline in short what we’re doing here,“ the ARS Electronic festival boss starts. „We’re dealing with global topics from the art angle.“
Of course, changes have taken place since the foundation of the festival. Initially and up to the 1990s the focal point was on avant-garde. “Nowadays,” Honzik states, “we also additionally strive to create something beneficial for society as the future is now.”
The ubiquitous use of smartphones explains why the Ars Electronica bosses had to adapt to the new social contexts of our time.
"The city of Linz has not only in the past been closely connected with Ars Electronica. Last year’s festival under the motto “C … what it takes to change” was definitely linked to the history and tradition of the city. The festival organizers even succeeded in getting the permission to use the historic dome of Linz to present picture and sound events there. This venue proved to be the perfect environment for the artists’ performances – also clearly due to the brilliant sound achieved. One of the main reasons why the sound experience was so great was the use of Cordial network cabling, i.e. the Network Coil Cables with connectors CAT-5 and CAT-7. “This combination does not only provide a perfect data transmission,” Karl Schmidinger states, “it is also extremely reliable,” a crucial aspect for the chief engineer of the Ars Electronica, who is not only responsible for the festival technology but also for the tours and the Prix competition.
Schmidinger has also been responsible for the cooperation with CORDIAL, now in its third year. “I’m really pleased now,” Schmidinger emphasizes because before his high expectations regarding sound were not always met. The professional natural horn player Schmidinger adds that “as a musician you naturally know CORDIAL. I would have loved to use cables of this prime brand in the past but couldn’t afford to. I’m making good for that now,” he smiles.
"For Schmidinger, reliability is the crucial factor when it comes to cables. He says that “the decisive factor concerning cabling matters is the exclusion of risk factors. Since using Cordial cables we just haven’t had any sound problems, especially important when we’re on tour. I can just plug in a Cordial cable in a venue, e.g. in Bangkok, and it will work – no problem. Cordial cables have never disappointed me yet.”
Even during a highly demanding Live-performance of the Japanese Prix Ars Electronica laureate Ryoji Ikeda, who is known to max and exploit the dynamic range extremely. “Sometimes you suddenly have to eliminate all sound completely, “ Schmidinger explains” and adds “should the audience then still hear any humming the whole performance would be ruined.”
Back in the „Cubus“, the Ars Electronica Center’s restaurant. Gerhard Stocker is sitting in front of a glass of water, smiling. The 51-year-old has been the festival’s artistic director since 1995, some call him the spiritus rector of Ars Electronica. Gerfried Stocker has always been an expert on vital future issues.
He is capable of talking about the usability of mobile phones as intelligently and inspiredly as about the sense making of social media or the French artist Albert Robida, who produced drawings at the end of the 19th century depicting the world in the year 2000. In some of his illustrations you can see a woman who follows a lesson visible in a mirror – today you would possibly call this a “webinar”. “Images like these,” Stocker says, “obviously symbolize that not only contemporary humans have always had a strong want for communication.”
Stocker states that sound has always been a kind of trendsetter, music the cutting edge art and affirms that finally we have reached levels in the audio field that are “good enough” for our ears. Humans can’t handle higher resolutions technically but what about communicating sonic universes as a whole? Maybe we won’t need any cables because incredible sound ranges might be transferred wirelessly?
That question brings a smile to Stocker’s face. “In my understanding there are no real technological limits so I’d never say never but I think there’ll always be a sector which will require signal transmission by cable.”
The use of a cable, Stocker explains, always gives you a certain kind of cultural assurance “implying reliability and that is something that the following generations can’t do without.” His 12-year-old son, for instance, “stores all his songs and videos digitally on his PC, tablet or smartphone but” – Gerfried Stocker continues after a short pause for thought – “he has acquired all the records and videos that he really loves as a kind of tangible asset, too.”