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