Even after two reports on Ars Electronica (maybe everybody is already
getting tired of it) I still think there are issues which should be
looked at and lessons to be learned.
I agree with Boris Groendahl: the Ars Electronica Center is quite
disappointing. It's crammed with too many gadgets, and not enough space
is devoted to reflection. But yes, I admit I also liked the CAVE. Not
for it's content and graphics, but for the wonderful world of VR.
Talking about VR, I think I should mention my absolute favorite in
Linz, the Inter Dis-communication Machine developed by Kazuhiko Hachiya,
nicknamed "Chicken VR." Although the installation (perhaps "playground"
is more descriptive) has little to do with virtual reality technology as
we know it, it is quite ingenious in the way it tricks you. Played by
two people both with head mounted displays and angelic wings, it projects
the other persons sight and sound perception into your own display,
confusing the borders between *you* and *me*.
Although I was generally unimpressed with the symposium, Both
Englberger's and Dawkins' presentations were good. Joe Englberger
delighted us with his vision of a better world, where robots are a boy's
best friend and playboy cartoonists the gods of modern art. Englberger
really is a wonder of modern technology. As if time had been warped, he
appeared to us as from a distant future of 1950. Fortunately, in this
time technology will become neutral and robots will only be used as
companions for old, middle-class white people. Technological
developments will be made for the sake of the human race, not for
gruesome wars. Thank you Mr. Englberger for giving me hope.
Apart from the pleasure of these cybercitizens, the next day of the
symposium was quite disappointing. No new visions and/or approaches were
presented. The panels were too big and too brief for any discussion to
start. Sandy Stone's orgasm on stage was fun, but for anyone acquainted
with her books and lectures it was rather boring.
This conference has again showed one very obvious thing to me: that the
format of conferences like Ars have survived themselves. I admit I enjoy
these big family reunions, but how about some more interesting and
productive ways of doing them? Why not invite people to take part in
week-long workshops on specific topics with public presentations of the