The Ars Electronica 2010 festival recently held in Austria was a “response to impending doom”, or so the organisers said. This digital arts festival brings together some of the most original and innovative interaction designers, showcasing everything from phantom limbs to nostril-powered digital painting. The idea of “impending doom” is further emphasised by the Yann Arthus Bertrand quote: “There is no time left for pessimism.”
The curators were adamant that the direction of any move now needs to be towards renewable forms of energy, sustainable regulation of the global financial markets and a re-organisation of the way we work.
This repair, rethink, reinvent philosophy culminated in the show Repair: Ready to Pull the Lifeline, which featured a variety of events and installations. Revital Cohen’s "Phantom Recorder" produced a “phantom limb” sensation with a device that induces hallucination by projecting cold, damp sensations onto the surface of a subject’s skin. The subject’s peripheral nerve activity is then captured and recorded by a neural implant and external wireless equipment.
Other festival highlights included Sonia Cillari’s “As Aan Artist I Need to Rest” installation where she exhaled through a cable connecting her nostril to the centre of a big screen where her breathing gives life to the contours of a digital creature called Feather. Honda’s "Asimo, A Humanoid Robot", functions as extra eyes, ears, hands and legs for people with mobility problems while Chris Jordan’s "Gyre" illustrated the enormous amounts of plastic pollution entering our oceans. Jordan used 2.4 million pieces of plastic from the Pacific Ocean to create a collage with materials equating to approximately the amount of pounds of plastic pollution making its way into the ocean every hour.