Beyond Prototying at Ars Electronica 16

© Jussi Ängeslevä

Image Ars Electronica Exhibition

© Jussi Ängeslevä

The results of the “Beyond Prototyping” research endeavor, part of our Hybrid Project “Rethinking Prototyping”, were exhibited at the Ars Electronica festival in Linz in September. Prof. Jussi Ängeslevä reports from the Festival for Art, Technology and Society.

Under the theme “Radical Atoms and the alchemists of our time” the rough and scaffolding clad exhibition attempted to shed some light behind the scene, what methods, tools and approaches the artists and designers employ in their work. So, instead of a “white cube gallery show”, alchemists of our time was as much about the process as the final outcome.

The three main design concepts that were created in “Beyond Prototyping”, and – were already finished services, and hence they were presented also as such. The context to present the show could not have been better, as many of the included works were dealing with digital fabrication, but the dialogue between the designer, client and manufacturing process were nowhere else the central question. This way, the potential of digital fabrication, its aesthetics and production methods were beautifully complementing the core question in our research focus, how to create dialogue between the different stakeholders in creating digitally manufactured products.

The wild range of projects, from engineering optimization, robotic manufacturing, and the performance of making to fashion, prosthetics and bio art were at times hard to keep under the same umbrella. The alchemists of our time, who employ new technologies that may seem almost like magic to uninitiated, were spread on a wide spectrum of artistic, artisanal and academic exploration. A fresh contrast to that provided the exhibitions in the basement of the same building, as well as the “CyberArts” exhibition that both provided much tighter, curated experience of art exhibition (both of which prominently showcased UdK talent).

Ars Electronica remains an exciting gathering of technology and arts in an unprecedented scale. The scale gives wonderful possibility to get lost in the abundance, even if it means getting lost. The reflection and dialogue with colleagues and visitors provide much to think about for months to come.

 – Jussi Ängeslevä