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"Ars Electronica 99 Festival of Art, Technology and Society"
1999-09-04 until 1999-09-09
Ars Electronica 99
Linz, , AT Austria

Ascertaining the position of art in the field of tension and interplay of technology and society has been the declared goal of Ars Electronica for the past 20 years. On the threshold of a new millennium, this anniversary constitutes above all an obligation to focus on future developments. Equipped with the accomplishments of digital information technology, genetic engineering and biotechnology are without a doubt the fields which contain the greatest potential for both progress and conflict. With this years festival, Ars Electronica establishes a new point of thematic emphasis which will be with us for years to come. Focusing on biotechnology and genetic engineering is indeed a reorientation, but it also carries on a practice with a long tradition-namely, turning attention to zones of conflict at the nexus of society and technology.

LifeScience The term life science encompasses broad fields of research in modern biotechnology and genetic engineering, and also constitutes highly explosive stuff in both a cultural and a social-political sense. The terms German translation-Wissenschaft vom Leben-also makes clear its close and fundamental connection to philosophical and metaphysical issues. And indeed, the possibilities of genetic engineering do press hard against the boundaries and taboos of our culture. Information technology-long the leading edge technology which has pointed the way to the future-has become the decisive tool with which biology can forge ahead into uncharted territory that is both brimming with hope and fraught with controversy. Biotechnology and genetic engineering are charting a course toward a new definition of our future and are already frequently apostrophized as the key technologies of the upcoming decades. The public discourse surrounding them is characterized by emotions stoked by the mass media and all too often remains at the level of ill-defined buzzwords. Against this background, the festival will also show new ways of dealing with this subject.


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