My Hours At Ars 2012


When asked to represent DM along with Gawain Hewitt at Ars Electronica 2012, naturally I said yes. After hearing of Nick Wilsdon’s experiences from last year at AE I knew we were in for something special!

Ars Electronica Centre, Linz

Friday 31st August:

We arrived on the Friday evening and went straight to Brucknerhaus where we picked up a timetable of events. Just a quick flick through it confirmed that this was going to be a crammed few days.

Brucknerhaus, Linz

The theme for this year’s festival was ‘The Big Picture’ which showcased inspiring best-practice examples from art and science with this year’s festival calling for a new open-minded way of considering the development of a viable vision of our future – how such a Big Picture ought to be composed and how it might become reality.

The Big Picture – 2012

To wrap up our first evening at AE, Gawain attended the annual Gala at Brucknerhaus, which is a ceremony where the Golden Nica statuettes are presented to The Prix Ars Electronica Prizewinners! This year’s winner of ‘Hybrid Art’ was Joe Davis (US) for his ‘Bacterial Radio’!

Whilst Gawain attended the Gala I headed off to Tabakfabrik venue to watch a performance called ‘Voice Box (that thing in your throat)’ by Damien Rebgetz (AU), who went on an acoustic excursion in the world of comics. This is the turf of heroes and heroines with the power to deploy superhuman vibes—so-called sonic screams—that enable them to fly at will, blow stuff up, rescue somebody or mutilate! This was a very inventive performance about the journey of the voice box and interestingly the hearing range of humans, animals and… comic book heros & heroines! Part of Damien’s performance experimented with acoustic voice and natural room space. When the performance ended, I felt like I had been shifted into a more creative state of mind, and ready to explore the wonderful, curious and awesome installations/exhibitions featured at AE 2012!


Saturday 1st September:

We had an early start on Saturday morning knowing that there was so much to see! We attempted to make a timetable to ensure we had time to visit exhibitions and performances that we particulary wanted to attend….and we made a very good attempt at it too! We both split and agreed to meet later that day to share our experiences.

Firstly I went to the Ars Electronica Centre, which really is ‘The Museum Of The Future’!  As I strolled around, observing the installations and technology in development, I felt a strong sense of respect and awe for the artists/scientists work, also mixed with inspiration and curiosity.

There was a very diverse collection of gadgets, and installations encompassing many art forms. One particularly fun instrument was the frequtic drum, which provoked thought on how it could be used in different ways or developed? Much fun for kids…and big kids too!

I also got to observe some brain painting.

I then returned to Bruknerhaus where I met with Stephen Hetherington and Martin Dyke who formed The OHMI trust in 2011 and who kindly invited DM back again this year to present at AE. The OHMI Trust is challenging technologists, inventors, instrument makers, and anyone else who would like to have a go, to design and build one-handed instruments that can emulate any of those used in the classical orchestra. The best will be awarded the world’s most prestigious prize for creative technology, a Prix Ars Electronica.

I also was very pleased to meet with Rudd van der wel, and musician Christian Gouweleeuw who introduced me to the magic flute for the first time.

I had seen a YouTube video some months ago of an orchestra performing Beethoven’s symphony No 9 with magic flutes and I was very intrigued, and now, here I was with one of the original performers (Christian) giving me a thorough demonstration of the instruments capabilities, which was most impressive and innovative. Within 15 minutes I was jamming along with Christian!

The Magic Flute

The magic flute is a first class wind instrument (midi), which offers greater expression for performance due to its dynamic capabilities and with it’s built in features means the musician can independently change the settings, e.g. the key and scale by blowing over the instruments mouth piece, and as its midi compatible, the musician can select to play any type of instrument with the magic flute!



I then returned to Ars Electronica Centre to view the ‘What Machines Dream Of’ exhibition, which was very inspirational with its quirky and thought sparking concept, which I loved.

To round off the day we popped into the really beautiful church Mariendom, to listen to a sound installation called ‘Tear Drops’ which featured piano with noise gates and sonic feeds. It was the perfect venue for this particular installation.


Sunday 2nd September:

On Sunday morning it was DM’s time to shine at a conference held in the Sky Media Loft at Ars Electronica, in a beautiful space, which overlooked Linz and the Danube. With an introduction and outline from Stephen Hetherington (OHMI) the presentations were then from Gawain Hewitt (Drake Music / UK), Ruud van der Wel (My Breath My Music / NL) and Peter Purgathofer (TU Wien/AT), which focused on ‘True Musical Instruments & Disability, Technical Challenges & Possibility’. The speakers discussed the challenges in music education, what’s currently working and innovative input and concepts. The audience was made up of many interesting people of which included Joe Paridso (MIT Media Lab).

After the conference we then went to the OK/CyberArts12 exhibition where over 20-award winner’s work was exhibited. This was simply mind blowing and I encourage you to click the link below for more info! One particularly elegant and fascinating installation (by Anselm Venezian Nehla / DE and Tarik Barri / NL) converted all German Twitter messages into sounds and images, live and in real time.



So, now I’m back in London, truly inspired by my visit to Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to visit such a fascinating and inspirational place and to have networking opportunities with so many talented people.

The biggest highlight for me, reflecting on my own work with DM has to be my introduction to the magic flute.  Seeing it being excellently demonstrated at Brucknerhaus and having the opportunity to jam with Christian was great.

Still Buzzing!

Gary Day (Associate Musician & Sing Up DM Network)2_0-608x480