Monday, September 10, 2007

Linz and the Ars Electronica

The Hauptplatz in Linz - click here for a large version

Linz: A medium-sized town in the north center of Austria, located on both sides of the Danube. A town with a long history, reaching back to Roman and Celtic settlements. There are aspects of the history of Linz that are quite interesting and nice - e.g. that the city was for a short time in the 15th century capital of the Holy Roman Empire, that the famous mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler worked and published in the early 17th century in it (the local university bears his name) and that the composer Anton Bruckner lived and worked here in the 19th century. Very nice to know, sure - but most cities have some famous inhabitants, haven't they?

But Linz is also tied to another, rather infamous person: Adolf Hitler spend a part of his youth there, performed miserably in a local school, but in spite of that somehow grew fond of it (of Linz, not of the school ...). He had big plans for Linz, and - stemming maybe from the feeling of being a unrecognized artist - had the idea to turn it into a cultural center of the Third Reich. And as he proclaimed the annexiation of Austria into Greater Germany in 1938, he did so in Linz, at the townhall at the main square in Linz, the "Hauptplatz". Want to see where? Click on the link beneath the panoramic picture above showing the "Hauptplatz" at night, and look at the somewhat pink building with the small clock tower on the left side on the panorama, right to the large "Plague Column" (built 1717 to remember the victims of the Plague) - this is the townhall.

Curiously enough Hitler's idea to turn Linz into a cultural center somehow worked - fortunately not as he originally planned, but in a much more modern way: Linz nowadays has several fine museums, some of them dedicated to the modern arts, and since 1979 it holds the annual "Ars Electronica", a festival for art, technology and society - a very interesting event, especially nowadays in the times of quickly evolving media technologies.

The panoramic picture above showed you a glimpse of the old Linz - so now some looks at Linz as a modern centre of art & thought!

Interactive video sculpture with bubbles - seen at the Landesgalerie Linz.

"Mirror cells" - an interactive environment by Sylvia Eckermann and Peter Szely, exhibit at the Ars Electronica 2007. Everybody who wanted could get into that large mirror cell and type some SMS on those projected round screens you see at the ceiling. Altogether quite a sight! So do take your time to sort out all that reflections.

A quick look at this year's conference at the Ars Electronica - main topic was the debate on the value of privacy in the age of blogs like this one. ;-)

And now as an adequate ending - adequate to the topic of the conference that is - a private look at the author of this lines - reflecting himself in the ceiling of the Lentos art museum in Linz.

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