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The reinvention of the Ars Electronica Center

AI plays a leading role in this new exhibition and cultural venue

Picture: Ars Electronica / Christopher Sonnleitner

New exhibitions, laboratories, educational formats, and a new self-conception: with ‘Compass – Navigating the Future,’ the Ars Electronica Center in Linz is beginning its next chapter.

The Ars Electronica Center has been transformed from a telescope into a compass, with an aim to be ‘a companion on a journey through the systems of the 21st century that we humans have created.’ The new Museum of the Future has received €4million in investment: €2.5million from the city of Linz, and €1.5million from Ars Electronica itself.

Picture: Ars Electronica / Robert Bauernhansl

“We have redesigned all the exhibitions, converted one entire floor into a laboratory, and newly conceived all our guided tours and workshops and our school programme,” said Gerfried Stocker, artistic director of Ars Electronica. The new Ars Electronica Center offers a range of interactive scenarios, artistic works, scientific research projects, information stations, workshops, and laboratories, all of which explore current developments in the fields of artificial intelligence, neuroscience, neuro-bionics, robotics, prosthetics, autonomous mobility, genetic engineering, and biotechnology. Artificial intelligence remains the focal point: “Artificial intelligence is currently sparking a revolution whose significance to our lives cannot be overestimated,” stated Stocker. “Whether in business and industry, in science, art, or politics, modern applications like machine learning will come into common use everywhere, bringing about fundamental changes.”

The exhibition “Understanding AI” shows how neural networks are structured, allowing visitors to try their hand training neural networks themselves at interactive stations. In the new ‘Machine Learning Studio,’ anyone can experiment with the practical applications of AI: building and testing self-driving cars or programming robots for face recognition. The exhibition ‘Neuro-Bionics’ imagines the quantum leap that melding AI with connectome research might bring about. The exhibition ‘Global Shift’ reveals the role that neural networks play in the scientific exploration of our planet and how they help tackle challenges like climate change.

The new centre’s mission is the convey to everyone a fundamental idea of what AI is and what its practical applications are, Stocker added: “We want to make our visitors AI-savvy.”

Picture: Ars Electronica / Christopher Sonnleitner

“Linz is home to voestalpine, not to mention several high-tech companies, the JKU, the University of Art, a lively startup scene, and, of course, Ars Electronica itself,” explained Mayor Klaus Luger. “Linz is a city of innovation. New technologies are not only born in Linz, they are also co-developed here, challenged, and put to the test. Because being a city of innovation also means keeping in mind that technology should make a more liveable and sustainable future possible. The new Ars Electronica Center embraces this positive yet critical approach; it explores the potential of new technologies, artificial intelligence above all, but it also shows that what we make of these technologies is up to us.”

The new Museum of the Future opened 27th May, with a programme that spans several weeks. It will be followed by the inaugural presentation of the new Ars Electronica Labs, Machine Learning Studio and the exhibitions ‘Understanding AI’ and ‘Global Shift.’

Each weekend will have a different theme, continuing all the way through the weekend of 21st July, 2019. The Ars Electronica team and numerous experts from the fields of art and science will be taking visitors on special tours of the exhibitions, holding workshops in the new labs and providing insights into current trends in their disciplines.

The second inaugural event for the new Ars Electronica Center will take place on 24th June, 2019. An additional three new exhibitions will be unveiled: ‘AI x Music,’ ‘Mirages & Miracles,’ and the Children’s Research Laboratory.