Jonah Brucker-Cohen
Since the beginning
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America

Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Ph.D., is an award winning artist, researcher, and writer. He received his Ph.D. in the Disruptive Design Team of the Networking and Telecommunications Research Group (NTRG), Trinity College Dublin. He is the Director of the Digital Humanities MA program and an Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Networked Culture in the department of Journalism, Communication, and Theatre at Lehman College (City University of New York – CUNY).

He has taught as adjunct assistant professor at Parsons MFA in Design & Technology and Parsons School of Art, Design, History, and Theory (ADHT) from 2010 to 2014. He has also taught in the Media, Culture, Communication dept of NYU Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development (2009, 2010, 2011). He has also taught at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) (2007, 2008), and Trinity College’s MsC in Interactive Digital Media (2003, 2004). From 2001-2004 he was a Research Fellow in the Human Connectedness Group at Media Lab Europe and from 2006-2007 he was an R&D OpenLab Fellow at Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology in New York City. He received his Masters from ITP in 1999 and was an Interval Research Fellow from 1999-2001.

Jonah’s work and thesis focuses on the theme of “Deconstructing Networks” which includes over 80 projects that critically challenge and subvert accepted perceptions of network interaction and experience.

He is co-founder of the Dublin Art and Technology Association (DATA Group), recipient of the ARANEUM Prize sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Art, Science and Technology and Fundacion ARCO, and was a 2006 and 2008 Rockefeller Foundation New Media Fellow Nominee. His writing has appeared in numerous international publications including WIRED Magazine, Make Magazine, Neural,, Art Asia Pacific, Gizmodo and more, and his work has been presented at events and organizations such as DEAF (03,04), London Science Museum (2008), Future Sonic / Future Everything (2004, 2009), Art Futura (04), SIGGRAPH (00,05), UBICOMP (02,03,04), CHI (04,06) Transmediale (02,04,08), NIME (07), ISEA (02,04,06,09,12), Institute of Contemporary Art in London (04), Tate Modern (03), Whitney Museum of American Art’s ArtPort (03, 12), Ars Electronica (02,04,08), Chelsea Art Museum, ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art (04-5),Museum of Modern Art (MOMA – NYC)(2008),San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) (2008), and Palais Du Tokyo, Paris (2009). His work has been reported about in The Times, The New York Times, Wired News, Make, Boing Boing, El Pais, Gizmodo, Engadget, The Register, Slashdot, NY Post, The Wire, Rhizome, Crunch Gear, Beyond the Beyond, Neural, Liberation, Village Voice, IEEE Spectrum, The Age, Taschen Books, and more.

He has given lectures about his work at locations and venues such as Intel Corporation, School of Visual Arts, Ars Electronica, Canadian Consulate, NYU, UCLA, USC, San Jose State University, ISEA 2002, 2004, 2006, 2012, University of Buenos Aires, Institute of Contemporary Art London, Transmediale, Universität der Künste Berlin, Tate Modern, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Urbis Manchester, CCCB Barcelona, Open Hardware Summit, Contemporary Art Museum Belo Horizonte, Brazil, The Banff Centre, Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Rhode Island School of Design, Maker Faire, Royal College of Art, Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark, Eyebeam, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Pratt Institute, and more.

Art in Your Pocket 4: Net Art and Abstraction for the Small Screen

"The Facets of Obama" created by Jonah Brucker­-Cohen using the Fracture application by James Alliban, 2011

The devices we carry with us can do much more than simply act as communication tools and entertainment appendages. They can also bring us into a growing world of artistic projects that could have never been imagined without their existence.

The recent boom in creative software for the iPhone and iPad now enables artists to remake existing web projects as iOS apps or use the physical world as a canvas for augmented reality, reimagining our physical surroundings through painting and rendering. In this article, the fourth one in a series that I've written over the past six years of reviews surveying art for the iPhone and iPad, I cover projects that both revive net art pieces that were once only possible on traditional computer systems or in browsers, as well as those that use the iPhone and iPad's sound and camera capabilities to their fullest.



Thicket:Classic (Hairy Circles mode), 2011, Interval Studios (aka Joshue Ott and Morgan Packard)

Beginning with abstraction and sound, two works examine methods of sound production through algorithmic composition. Thicket (2011) by Interval Studios (programmer and artist Joshue Ott and composer Morgan Packard) is an amalgam of abstract shapes and patterns that engage with touch-based interaction, visual stimulation, generative pattern creation, and mesmerizing sound transference. The original version of Thicket, or Thicket:Classic, feels like a musical masterpiece on the edge of a high precipice. As a user changes the orientation of their phone in four directions (up, down, right, left) the onscreen graphics shift to new modes.

Thicket 3.11 Video, Joshue Ott and Morgan Packard, Interval Studios.

My favorite mode in Thicket:Classic is "Hairy Circles," which features menacing yellow-orangish circles of tangled lines that correspond to each finger's touch and shift when dragged around, creating a machine-like beat that evokes an industrial assembly line. Ott explains, "Thicket uses a bunch of different algorithms—for both audio and visuals. The aesthetic came from repeated experimentation and rapid prototyping of modes. Sometimes we would start with the visuals, sometimes with the audio, but there was often a back and forth process of each of us adjusting our part until we both liked the results."

Locative Media Revisited


Molly Dilworth, 547 West 27th Street (2009). From the series "Paintings for Satellites."

In the early 2000s, as location-aware devices first became commonplace, there was a lot of hype surrounding their potential creative use by artists. However, over time, this initial enthusiasm for "locative media"--projects that respond to data or communications technologies that refer to particular sites--leveled off, even dissipated. Regardless of this drought, geospatial technologies are widely used, and play an important and often unnoticed role in conditioning many aspects of our existence. Responding to this condition of ubiquity, artists have continued to use locative technologies critically, opening up closed systems, making their effects visible, and reconfiguring our relationship with such systems.  

Welcome to Your New NSA Partner Network: Report from Transmediale 2014

We're running our annual community campaign through March 19. Give today!

Photo: Andreas Nicolas Fischer.

A kind of cold weather antipode of summer's "Love Parade," the Transmediale 2014 media arts festival was a beacon of light in the long dusk of a Berlin winter. As a twist on the usual curated exhibition, this year's festival opted for an ad-hoc "Art Hack Day" (AHD) approach, where submitting artists were expected to create new and original artworks in the span of two days (and nights). Opening the exhibition with a more down-to-earth feel, AHD ultimately resembled a DIY, garage-style party instead of a highbrow exhibition space.

Art In Your Pocket 3: Sensor Driven iPad and iPhone Art Apps

 PXL, Rainer Kohlberger, 2012

As the iPhone just celebrated its fifth year on the market, artists have already made a substantial dent in the commercially lucrative world of Apple’s AppStore. Despite this success, artists are still pushing forward to build apps that further integrate with the device’s sensors and location-based capabilities. Rather than working solely within the context of software art as I have covered in two previous articles on the subject for Rhizome, there is a focus now on artists who are interacting with the physical world by using the device’s internal sensors, location capabilities, constant Internet connectivity, and built-in cameras.


“Konfetti”, Stephan Maximillian Huber, 2012


Using the camera as a sensor, “Konfetti” by German based designer Stephan Maximillian Huber visualizes the image of its subject into countless dots. In effect, the camera image is translated into virtual confetti that follows any movement and creates an ever changing images based on which camera is selected. The dot’s movement is correlated to the detected flow captured by the camera and by repelling other dots, which also move as you touch and drag them. Huber explains over email how the app works as a reflection based art tool. “The app started as an iPad-only app, and on an iPad the app acts like a mirror, showing an abstract reflection of yourself. You'll get a clear image of yourself only when you concentrate on the process of the app, and don't move too fast. It's like contemplating about yourself and the image of yourself. And as your thoughts and emotions aren't static the image the app generates is dynamic and adapts to minimal movements and new ...


Art in Your Pocket 2

In the summer of 2009, I wrote an article here at Rhizome about the burgeoning activities of media artists creating new works or updating versions of their older interactive screen-based projects for Apple's iPhone and iTouch mobile devices. As the article made its way throughout the blogosphere, comments surfaced ranging from criticism of the "closed world of Apple's App Store and iPhone devices" to a championing of the availability of inexpensive multi-touch technology now available to artists who had been waiting for a platform that could adequately display and allow for the type of interaction their projects demanded. A year after the article came out, the draw of these devices and their potentially expansive audience has become even more irresistible to artists enough so that several more "apps" have surfaced. The following article catalogs several new iPhone works which have emerged over the past year, works that are pioneering the next generation of portable media art.

Discussions (42) Opportunities (1) Events (2) Jobs (0)


Monday 31th March 2003

See website for more info:

DATA:BASE is a one-day conference which will be held on April 26th
2003 in the Digital Hub Cash and Carry warehouse space in Dublin's
Digital Hub.

Exploring the theme of "Democratisation of Technology" and featuring
artists/musicians/technologists/academics whose works engage the
public, the conference sees the public as essential to the nature of
the work its execution, presentation and involvement.

DATA:BASE is delighted to announce a brilliant line up of renown
International artists who will attend and present this one day
conference. A unique opportunity for the public to listen, discuss
and participate in this once off lively eventSS

In addition to the symposium, the warehouse space will feature a
workshop with basic prototyping tools, a technology swap-meet for
people to freely trade old and used equipment, vendors selling
technology-art based wares (art books, artist-made mouse pads,
digital prints, etcS), and ongoing live interventions and
performances during the day.

DATA:BASS - Interactive Experiments- an evening event with
performances by Boredom Research, Del 9, Ambulance, Lou Reed's Brain,
Double Adaptor and more, also screenings, and installations to
culminate the day's activities

DATA:BASE - Digital Dialogues

What: a one-day conference, featuring renown International artists
discussing art, education and technology.
When: Saturday April 26, 2003 (10am - 6pm)
Who: Open to the public, tickets must be bought in advance off website,
Seating is limited so early registration is essential.
To register:
Where: Digital Hub Cash and Carry warehouse space in Dublin's Digital
Hub, Thomas Street, Dublin 8.
Cost: 10 Euro for full day (register on website)

One day conference will feature visiting artists' presentations by
UK-based team - Boredom Research(2:30pm - 3:45 pm)
(, Thomson & Craighead (10:45 am - 12 pm)
(, and Desperate Optimists (10:45 am - 12
pm) ( and US-based artist Leah Gilliam
(2:30pm - 3:45 pm).

Between presentations there will be a panel discussion focused on
"Educational Institutions in Art and Technology" and "Digital Art and
the Public" with guests including Marie Redmond (TCD), Paul O'Brien
(NCAD), Tim Redfern (PixelCorps), Dr. Linda Doyle (TCD), Conor
McGarrigle (, and more.

The day will also include installations such as Boredom Research's
artificial life MIDI installations "System 1.6" and "K-19", Thomson &
Craighead's humorous take on post-dotcom merchandise with, Leah Gilliam's installation: All That NASA Allows, and
Desperate Optimist's Catalogue of Disasters.

** Stalls will be setup for vendors selling technology-art based
wares (art books, artist-made mouse pads, digital prints, etcS)
including booths and info from local University art/tech graduate
programs, book stores, theater spaces, arts organizations and more!

** The technology swap meet invites visitors to drop off their old or
outdated equipment (such as old synthesizers, hard drives, computers,
monitors, amplifiers, gadgets) and trade them with other participants.

** The all-day open workshop space featuring a "SCRAPYARD MIDI
CHALLENGE"that will allow festival attendees to create projects and
participate in short visiting artist-led workshops using minimal or
found objects and basic electronics.

DATA:BASE is supported by The Digital Hub (,
Critical Voices (, Dublin Art and Technology
Association (, DarkLight Digital Festival
(, Media Lab Europe (, and
Sink Digital Media (



What: Interactive Experiments- an evening event with performances by
Boredom Research, Del 9, Ambulance, Double Adaptor, and more, also
screenings, and installations to culminate the day's activities.
When: Saturday evening April 26, 2003 (7pm - 10pm)
Where: Digital Hub Cash and Carry warehouse space in Dublin's Digital
Hub, Thomas Street, Dublin 8.
Cost: 5 Euro @ door (register on website)

DATA:BASE invites producers, authors, students, filmmakers,
artists, designers, hackers, hackers, DJs, animators, lawyers, journalists,
musicians, media moguls, net addicts, coders and any other interested
parties to attend this one day event

Seating is limited so early registration is essential.
To register:

Please send any queries regarding this to

All press queries to Sarah Ross:


Fwd: Call for Projects: Exhibit2:Mobilise at The Digital Hub

Please forward this call to anyone who you think might be interested and
feel free to post it to sites, groups etc.

Call for Projects for Exhibition of Digital technology projects in The
Digital Hub Project Office , 10 - 13 Thomas Street .

In December 2002, The Digital Hub launched the first in its series of
exhibitions showcasing digital technology in its new project office on
Thomas Street.

During 2003 The Digital Hub will continue to exhibit work that
demonstrates and explores the creative potential of digital technologies
on an ongoing basis. These exhibitions will provide a unique platform
for newcomers and established artists, filmmakers, designers,
programmers, developers and musicians, animators from many diverse
backgrounds to exhibit their work.

The second exhibition in the series, 'Mobilise', aims to publicise the
creative potential of personal telecommunications of all shapes and
forms. We are looking for innovative content for mobile- or location
aware- computing platforms e.g. distributed role playing games, location
aware art applications.

-SMS, PDA, GPS, GPRS, Wi-Fi, Games, Gadgets, Graffiti for your phones...

>From SMS poetry, phone photography/video, to innovative or conceptual
designs for next generation mobile devices. Films, adverts and
animations made using mobile technologies or themed around personal
communications issues to music featuring telecommunications samples or
mobile collaboration- All could potentially feature in 'Mobilise'.

We are inviting submissions from various disciplines including but not
exclusively all fine art practice, computer generated images,
interactive media, web art, film: both linear and interactive,
animation, special effects, music, sound, design: graphic, fashion, or
product, motion graphics, commercial production, gaming, e-learning,
m-learning, advertising, enabling technologies, mobile technologies, web
development and computer programming.

We are also looking for submissions for video installations to be shown
at the 'Projected Windows' site, No. 157 Thomas St. Dublin. Ireland.

For more information on this site please check our website <>.

Submissions can come from persons and organisations based in Ireland or

The final exhibits will be chosen by a selection panel and those that
are chosen to exhibit will be awarded an honorarium of EUR1,000. This
initiative is been supported by Diageo Ireland under the Liberties
Learning Initiative. Should the fee be waived it will be donated to the
Liberties Learning Initiative.

Those interested in exhibiting can present their ideas either as a
finished piece of work, work in progress or as a proposal. For the pilot
showcase, turnaround time to complete the project is three weeks.
Closing date for receipt of proposals is 17thof Febuary 2003.

Successful exhibitors should be prepared to present their projects in a
series of talks and that will take place in 2003

You may send your projects on CD, DVD, URL, interactive presentation ,
VHS or mini DV or email
<> with your proposal. Please clearly
mark your submissions 'Exhibit 2:Mobilise'. <>
Address: Nicky Gogan, The Digital Hub Project Office, 10-13 Thomas St.,
The Digital Hub, Dublin 8

The Digital Hub is also developing an archive of digital media projects
for learning and showcase purposes. Exhibitors will be asked to donate a
copy of their work to the archive. Full terms will be agreed with the
exhibitors after the selections have been made.

Further information on The Digital Hub is available at

Yours sincerely,
Nicky Gogan
Exhibitions and Special Events


Report from ISEA 2002

Report from ISEA 2002
Oct. 27-31, 2002
Nagoya, Japan
By Jonah Brucker-Cohen (

Held in the harbor city of Nagoya, Japan, ISEA (Inter-Society of
Electronic Art) 2002 was a curious mixture of presentations,
performances, workshops, and exhibited works. Topics ranged from the
conference's theme of the Japanese word "Orai", translated as comings
and goings, to emotional context in digital art practice, to
synthetic renderings of natural environments, to musical and visual
outputs for technological artistic expression. The video game like
layouts of the warehouse spaces in Nagoyako Harbor (where most of the
venues were situated) were the perfect inspiration for the works
featured inside. Projections filled the weather-beaten concrete walls
while sound echoed in cacophonous rhythms through the immense spaces.

Stepping inside warehouses No.4 and No. 20 visitors were confronted
with multiple interactive installations that focused on play as a
theme for interactive narrative. Highlights included Kaoru Motomiya's
"California lemon sings a song", a rocket shaped array of Sunkist
lemons on the floor that served as the power supply for several small
greeting card size musical devices. The project proved that nature
still provides sustenance for digital devices. Sound installations
ranged from Shawn Decker's "Scratch Studies #3: Moths", which used
stepper motors to slowly turn metal arms that grated against steel
supports, and Beatriz Da Costa's "Cello", a robotically controlled
vintage acoustic cello that changes its movement and sound according
to feedback from visitors to the space.

Visual narratives such as Takeshi Inomata and Tsutomu Yamamoto's
"Talking Tree", uncovered experiential meaning in the simple
interface of a stump where visitors placed their hands to change
imagery and shake the virtual tree's projected shadow. Other
highlights included Miyuki Shirakawa's " Safe Toturing Series-9",
featuring haunting projections of visitors faces into kitchen
blenders filled with floating Styrofoam, Tiffany Holmes' playful
"Follow the Mouse" that replaced the computer mouse with a sleepy
Japanese mouse in a cage, and Tomohiro Sato's "Floating Memories"
providing a crank for visitors to power a bulb which provides the
light for a camera to capture images and project them on a table as a
moving filmstrip.

The paper, poster and panels sessions ranged from personal projects
by artists to institutional presentations about academic programs
focusing on art and technology. This year's ISEA theme was "Orai",
meaning comings and goings and focusing on both social and individual
cultural artistic constructs of digital art practice. Many
presentations focused on this theme by positioning projects and ideas
within the context of ephemeral landscapes, emotional resonance, and
societal impact. On the linguistic and art history side, topics
ranging from Karen McCann's "Programming Literacy for Artists" to
Rachel Schreiber's "The (True) Death of the Avant-Garde" to Annet
Dekker's "The Influence of New Technologies on Language" asked
questions pertaining to art as a means for social reactivism through
theory and practice. What are artist's roles in social discourse? Is
perpetuating social conscience through art a necessary or arbitrary

On the practice side, Los Angeles based artist Angie Waller's "Data
Mining the Amazon: American political parties and their CD
recommendations", was a humorous take on's customer
recommendation system by using the information available to discover
the CDs associated with international political figures. In real
space, Teri Rueb's "The Choreography of Everyday Movement" used GPS
to track and combine people's daily movements in urban space to show
contrasting relationships between transportation networks and
habitual travels. Also Paul Sermon's telematic installation "There's
no simulation like home", featuring video displacements in the
bedroom, living room, and kitchen of a model home, and Kjell
Petersen's "Mirrechophone & Smiles in Motion", two video connected
chairs that come to life when inhabited, showed how connected spaces
can create emotional contexts for interaction.

In the poster sessions, I gave a presentation on "Physical Web
Interfaces" focusing on several of my projects including MouseMiles
and SpeakerPhone that deal with adding a human and physical side to
networked interfaces. The response was very positive and sparked an
interesting debate on the future of emotional attachment to computer
interfaces. Most people really liked the idea of manifesting
individual experiences as shared interactions through networked
devices on a distributed scale. My point was that by connecting our
similar yet distributed activities in physical space on a global
scale our methods of connection between ourselves and information
become as important as the information contained within the
transmission. My conclusion asked if digital information actually has
meaning and pointed out that networks are not only for data, after
which I got a few nervous looks.

Performances focused on sound and visuals as ambient narrative clips
into each performers psyche. Chris Csikszentmihiyi of the MIT Media
Lab managed to find an art truck (, a shiny beast
of a truck that shimmered in polished steel with flashing lights to
perform his "DJ I, Robot Sound System". Other highlights included
Mark Amerika's "Filmtext 2.0", a foray into interactive cinematic
experiences with projected sounds and urban narrative visuals. Guy
Van Belle's "Society of Algorithm - translocal mutations" looked at
real-time drawing systems in performance and how to augment spatial
metaphors with responsive interactivity. Finally Montreal's Alain
Thibault and Yan Breuleux's mesmerizing "Faustechnology" was a visual
and auditory romp into the abstraction of Faustian theory and
synthetic forms of computer visualization.

Rounding out the event was the Electronic Theater which included a
large portion dedicated to early works of video art from Japan.
Highlights from the film exhibition included Patrick Lichty's "8 bits
or less" a short film made from Casio's Wrist Camera, Brad Todd's
"Screen", a telematic web-based project that allows visitors to
control an interactive ecosystem inside Todd's studio in Montreal,
and Takafumi Ohira's "In the Seaside", a clever look at the plight of
increased urbanism as buildings and scenery grow and eventually
topple each other as a giant concrete wave.

As art and technology conferences mature, greater expectations on
simplistic input and output seem to be prevalent. Gone are the days
when interactive or digital art can be justified with theory and art
jargon if the interactive experience fails to be compelling.
Especially when exhibited, audiences seem less inclined to spend time
with digital projects if their own personal frustration with
computers encroaches on the artistic intention. Maybe we don't want
to be reminded that we are interacting with computers at all. By
emphasizing natural and human-centered interfaces, many of the
projects presented at ISEA 2002 were getting closer to the ubiquitous
personal interactions we take for granted in everyday life.

Jonah Brucker-Cohen | Media Lab Europe
Research Fellow | Sugar House Lane
Human Connectedness | Bellevue, Dublin 8, Ireland
(h) +353 1 4760375 (w) +353 1 4742853 (m) +353 1 (0)87 7990004


RHIZOME_RAW: Report from Ars Electronica 2002

Wed Sep 25, 2002 00:00 - Wed Sep 25, 2002

It was meant as a report - my words got a bit scrambled at the end - but certainly wasnt meant to offend anyone. Despite the focus on big names in digital art, I still felt as if there was room at Ars for the smaller projects that might never get the financial backing that a Rafael Lozano-Hemmer might get... I mean purely in the DIY sense though - where if you wanted to "crash" Ars by putting in your project despite not being selected, you could probably do it and people would really appreciate it because it would derail a lot of the hype and propaganda. I'm saying this because I did this with a project I showed there and got an amazing response from people - so I guess in that way it felt more democratic than exclusive or pretentious.

Anyways -once again didnt mean to offend -


Report from Ars Electronica 2002

Report from Ars Electronica
Linz, Austria
September 7 - 12, 2002
By Jonah Brucker-Cohen (

If you walked barefoot into the lounge at the O.K. center in Linz this week,
you might think you reached the beach of the future. Instead of sand,
millions of tiny plastic beads lined the floor of this blacklight neon room
with low cushions and a fleet of laptops displaying net art projects. This
year's Ars Electronica took the theme "Unplugged: Art as the Scene of Global
Conflicts" a metaphor for the state of post 9/11 artistic practice amid an
international climate of political tension surrounding globalization,
terrorism, and threats of war. As it was my first visit to Ars, I tried to
inhale as much stimuli as possible without suffering my own blue screen of

The festival consisted of 8 venues scattered throughout the smog-infested,
small town of Linz. The museum built specifically for electronic art, the
Ars Electronica Center (AEC), is a fairly antiseptic space, and this year
hosted the "Hidden Worlds" exhibit featuring Golan Levin's "Hidden Worlds of
Noise and Voice." An augmented reality simulation that pinpoints the
location of audible sounds and through display goggles renders 3D worm-like
colors emanating from the source of the sounds. The project gave everything
from high-pitch squeals to bass thumping burps a virtual counterpart. Also
at AEC was Motoshio Chikamori and Kyoko Kunoh's "Tools Life" an interactive
installation consisting of various tools (e.g., hammers, cheese graters)
that launch animations in the object's shadow when touched. The focus of the
work was to illuminate and display invisible data layers moving within
physical space.

The more spacious O.K. Center hosted the honorable mentions and winners in
the CyberArts category, which focused on themes of simulation and
representation. Golden Nica winner, David Rokeby's "n-cha(n)t" asked what it
would sound like if a network of computers chanted in unison - computers
hanging from the ceiling use speech recognition technology to transform
visitor's vocal input into lyrics. Taking telepresence to sonic heights, was
Atau Tanaka and Kasper Toeplitz's "Global String," a long steel cable
stretching from floor to ceiling connected to another cable's resonant sound
frequencies over the Internet. Also inspired by physical movement through
spatial mapping, "Body Brush" developed by a group from Hong Kong, generated
a colorful 3D landscape through "Digital Action Painting" where
visitors could dance on
the floor while their movements and gestures are tracked in space. The crowd
pleaser was Volker Morawe and Tilmann Reiff's "PainStation", a rendition of
Pong in an armored cabinet where users have to place their hands on elements
that quickly heat up or be whipped by motorized strings if they miss the
ball with their paddle. In effect, the threat of physical harm provided a
compelling incentive to engage strangers in the game.

The festival's defining strength seemed to be embedded in the energy and
rawness of the performances. Japan's 66b/cell group upstaged most of the
events with its epic show at the Peter Behrens Haus featuring alien-like
costume design, embedded LED clothing, perfect projection synchronization
with dance moves, techno beats, and a dancer painted in gold with long
spikes emanating from the tips of his fingers. Similarly, "Vivisector" by
Klaus Obermaier and Chris Haring featured dancers moving within video
projections and shifting their bodies to distort and shape incoming light
movements. Rounding out the live events was the "Gameboyzz Orchestra
Project", a collection of six on-stage practitioners creating 8-bit console
sounds through customized sequencers connected to drum machines.

The symposium's focus on global conflict and media representation post 9/11
turned into a backlash against the political motivations of the exhibited
art. Was the art political? Did it have a social message? If so, does this
quality make it more or less valuable? Of the winners, Rafael-Lozanner
Hemmer's full scale "Body Movies" installation addresses the relational
structures between urban landscapes and the people inhabiting them. His
project raised the questions: "What is a city today? When does it begin an
when does it end?" The answer seems to be based more on psychology than
physical boundaries since everyone who answered seemed to have a different
opinion. In Net Vision, RSG's Carnivore project looked at the political
junction of art and government surveillance and how public networks can be
manifested through artistic output with real-world input. Also looking at
public space was It's Alive's mobile phone, location-based, pervasive game
"Bot-Fighters," which tracks the relative position of people through a city,
and engages them in a combat simulation as a robot avatar. Basing game play
on fears of surveillance and tracking, the project transforms public space
into a recreational arena similar to earlier, localized games like

Ars Electronica, the decisive festival for digital creativity, is an
important milestone
for artists working in this realm. The festival's longevity (it was
established in 1987)
stands as its greatest strength and artists have evolved their careers via the
relationships and connections the event enables. Despite its ambition
to be a global
leader in the recognition of digitalarts, Ars seems still committed
and impressed
by the 'little guy'. In the digital domain, the aesthetic pressures
of the professional
art world are present but less obtrusive. There's still no
Michelangelo of digital art
and that's a good thing. Festivals like Ars challenge and provoke us enough to
prove that the promise of artistic perfection is only upstaged by the
that failure is more interesting.

-Jonah Brucker-Cohen (

Jonah Brucker-Cohen|Sugar House Lane
Research Fellow | Bellevue
Media Lab Europe|Dublin 8, Ireland
(w) +353 1 4742853 (m) +353 1 087 7990004