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Co-hosted by the University of Auckland and Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington, Ars Electronica Garden Aotearoa is a free, fully online, media arts festival that will offer installations situated at the intersection of art, technology, and society. Events run from 8-12 September.
As part of the international Ars Electronica festival, Garden Aotearoa will be accessible online as a 3D cyber exhibition due to COVID-19 restrictions. Visitors to the festival’s Mozilla Hubs cyber gallery will be able to interact with certain installations, as well as other virtual participants. Also included is a digital concert night, which will be livestreamed along with other events, featuring speakers, performances and demonstrations.
“Ars Electronica Garden Aotearoa explores how the digital world connects with the physical world,” says Associate Professor Uwe Rieger, event organiser and director of the University of Auckland’s arc/sec Lab for Cyber-Physical Architecture and Interactive Systems. “It is for anyone interested in digital media, whether they’re ten years old or 100. Visitors can explore digital information in ways that will delight their senses, entertain them and make them think.” Describing Ars Electronia as one of the most influential festivals in the world of electronic arts and media, Professor Marc Aurel Schnabel, the Dean of Te Wāhanga Waihanga-Hoahoa-Wellington’s Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation says “it’s incredibly special to host a part of this event for New Zealanders to explore, experience and enjoy.”
As part of the festival, the University of Auckland’s arc/sec Lab will present the LightSense installation along with the Augmented Human Lab and the Empathic Computing Lab at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. An immersive event which augments physical constructions with holographic animations, artificial intelligence will be used to initiate and sustain conversations with participants, based in part on the 60,000 poems which the system has been trained to learn. As a form of reactive architecture, LightSense can respond to verbal input from virtual visitors, and change its form in reaction to the emotional tenor of audience members.
Along with LightSense, Tumour Evolution in Extended Reality (XR) will be presented as a collaboration between the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, and the Centre for eResearch. A world first which collates multimodal data donated by a real cancer patient, Tumour Evolution in Extended Reality will allow multiple users to simultaneously interact with a digital 3D model.
“Ars Electronica Garden Aotearoa allows researchers, technologists, artists and thinkers to not only present ideas to local and international audiences but also trigger public discussion of digital issues,” says Dr Rieger. “The information age presents challenges such as the security of data and its potential misuse. On the other hand, data can become a new building material for creation that doesn’t require huge resources or physical proximity. This offers huge opportunities for New Zealand.”
Along with the two universities themselves, Ars Electronica Garden Aotearoa is being co-promoted by UniServices, the arc/sec Lab and Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington’s Digital Architecture Research Alliance (DARA).
Ars Electronica is scheduled to take place from 8-12 September. Most events are free, although some aspects of the Ars Electronica festival held outside of New Zealand carry modest charges.
Click here to see a full list of events and find out more.
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