Report on the Ars Electronica 80 Symposium Held at Linz, Austria, in September 1980

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    Report on the Ars Electronica 80 Symposium Held at Linz, Austria, in September 1980Author(s): Susanne PchSource: Leonardo, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Summer, 1981), pp. 206-207Published by: The MIT PressStable URL: .Accessed: 12/06/2014 15:37

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  • Leonardo, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 206-207, 1981. Printed in Great Britain.

    0024-094X/81/030206-025$02.00/0 Pergamon Press Ltd.


    Susanne Pach*


    The first Ars Electronica symposium, held at Linz, Austria, in 1979 was organized by the Linz Special Events Planning Corporation and the Austrian Broadcasting Service of Upper Austria. Ars Electronica 80, the second symposium, was held from 8 to 11 September 1980 also at Linz under the same sponsorship. This symposium was especially devoted to reviews of recent developments in computers and electronic control systems and to their application in the visual arts and music and to special events open to the general public.

    On the first evening the composer Klaus Schulze of West Berlin presented his 'Linz Steel Symphony' at the Linz concert hall. During the first and last parts of his program the sounds of steel production at the plant Voest-Alpine in Linz were transmitted directly to the concert hall. On the second evening about 30,000 people attended an open-air program (in the rain!) at the Linz Danube Park where a recording of Anton Bruckner's '4th Symphony' was transmitted and Otto Piene (U.S.A. and Fed. Rep. Ger.) displayed sculptures, about 80m in height, consisting of polyethylene tubular balloons filled with helium gas [1].


    The Grand Prize of Ars Electronica was offered for an original instrument for the electronic production of sound. The Prize was awarded to Nyle Steiner (U.S.A.) for his Electronic Valve Instrument, a wind instrument whose tones are controlled by a modulator contained in the instrument. In his musical presentation he was accompanied by Thomas Piggott (U.S.A.), who played on a new type of sound synthesizer that he had invented, called a Crumar Computer. Steiner and Piggott in their performance produced some fascinating original har- monies and melodies. Steiner had performed some solos on his instrument in the cinema film 'Acopalypse Now' (1979). Piggott had collaborated in the past with Stevie Wonder (U.S.A.) and the group Tangerine Dream (Fed. Rep. Ger.).


    About 100 visual artists and musicians from several countries, particularly from Austria and the Federal Republic of Germany, participated in three Workshops organized by Klaus Hashagen (Fed. Rep. Ger.), Klaus

    *Science historian, Eduard-Schmid Strasse 7, 8000 Munich 90, Fed. Rep. Ger. (Received 3 Nov. 1980)

    Ramm (Fed. Rep. Fer.) and Herbert W. Franke (Fed. Rep. Ger.).

    At the first one, Robert A. Moog (U.S.A.), inventor of the Moog synthesizer, discussed the physiological factors of hearing that should be considered in the construction of musical instruments. Wendy Carlos (U.S.A.), known for the electronic music entitled 'Switched-on-Bach', a version of J. S. Bach's music, produced with a Moog synthesizer, discussed the history of sound synthesizers and of the vocoder, which can be used to produce speech synthetically. Klaus Netzle (Fed. Rep. Ger.) described his rather complicated computer, Fairlight CMI, for com- posing multi-instrumental music.

    At this Workshop, Piggott demonstrated his Crumar Computer synthesizer and explained how sound para- meters such as loudness, vibrato and modulation can be controlled by touch-sensitive keys. He produced some sequences of sounds that seemed to amaze the participants.

    The title of the second Workshop was Literature to Hear and See/Literature in Image and Sound, but only Heidulf Gerngross (Austria) used electronic means for making his 'Volksbuch', which he described. This book consisted of a collection of quotations from newspapers, detective and science-fiction stories, folk songs and some of his own stories. The material was arranged in a prescribed order with the aid of a computer and reduced to a printed book of 1280 pages. I found the presentation nonsensical but enjoyable.

    Gerhard Ruhm (Fed. Rep. Ger.), Alain Robbe-Grillet (France) and Bazon Brock (Austria) read poetry, gave views on the aesthetics of cinema and on interpretations of traditional pictures.

    At the third Workshop, whose theme was Electronic Media for Visual Creation, Hans-Martin Ihme (Fed. Rep. Ger.) presented a Lightmachine that is controlled by microprocessors and that produces light patterns on objects. Otto Friihling (West Berlin) described his 'Rotography'-Light Kinetic Art with Luminous Diodes. This system consists of rotating disks on which diode bulbs glow in different colors.

    Visual artist Ulrike Triistedt and her physicist husband Dieter Triistedt (Fed. Rep. Ger.) presented their 'Laser- Light-Drawings' on a screen. The display was accompanied by a musical instrument she devised whose strings can not only be bowed and plucked but also be blown on in order to produce sounds. Their presentation was in sharp contrast to the Laser Concert of David Tudor (U.S.A.), which involved many colors presented in a garish manner. The Trustedts' performance, however, included gentle circular motions of green light on a screen accompanied by the soft sounds from her instrument producing a meditative ambience.


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  • Report on the Ars Electronica 80 Symposium

    P. K. Hoenich (Israel) was invited to discuss his kinetic artworks, which are now also controlled by an electronic medium. He presented his kinetic 'Sunpainting', which is produced on a screen or on a wall by transmission and reflection of sunlight through transparent elements and from elements with polished surfaces [2].

    Piene gave a talk on collaborative projects of artists, scientists and engineers at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (M.I.T.) [3] involving the use of flowing water, steam [4], flames, etc., as well as on work being done in Video Art and computer animation.

    A half-day symposium was also organized at the University of Linz on the subject Information Systems for the 80s: Trends in Information Technology. Lectures on computer technology were given by Karl Steinbuch (Fed. Rep. Ger.) and Joseph Weizenbaum (U.S.A.), followed by a general discussion.

    The Ars Electronica 81 symposium is to have the theme Electronics and Science Fiction. It is to be held in

    September 1981. Those wishing information on the symposium and its special events should write to: Linzer Veranstaltungsgesselschaft mbH, Brucknerhaus, Untere Donaulande 7, A-4010 Linz, Austria.


    1. R. 0. Preusser, Report on the 1975 International 'Arttransition' Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), Leonardo 9, 228 (1976) Fig. 2.

    2. P. K. Hoenich, Kinetic Art with Sunlight: Reflection on Developments in Art Needed Today, Leonardo 1, 113 (1968), also in F. J. Malina, ed., Kinetic Art: Theory and Practice (New York: Dover, 1977) p. 23; and Light Symphony, No. 1: A Kinetic Pictorial Artwork with Light, Leonardo 14, 38 (1981).

    3. The Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Leonardo 1, 487 (1968).

    4. J. Brigham, Participatory Art with Steam as Medium: 'Steam Works', Leonardo 10, 307 (1977).


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    Article Contentsp. 206p. 207

    Issue Table of ContentsLeonardo, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Summer, 1981), pp. 177-264Front MatterArticles by ArtistsMemorials, Vanitas and Death Themes in My Recent Mixed-Media Paintings [pp. 177 - 181]A Report on My Cultural Mission as Sculptor and Architect to the Orient for the French Government [pp. 182 - 186]

    On Producing Colours Using Birefringence Property of Transparent, Colourless Stretched Cellophane [pp. 187 - 190]The Ecology of J. J. Gibson's Perception [pp. 191 - 195]NotesA Visual Art Project for Public Participation: A Means of Communicating about Art [pp. 196 - 197]My Anamorphoses: Types That Produce Three Kinds of Images in Circular Cylindrical Mirrors [pp. 198 - 201]On the Signification of Doors and Gates in the Visual Arts [pp. 202 - 205]Report on the Ars Electronica 80 Symposium Held at Linz, Austria, in September 1980 [pp. 206 - 207]Kinetic Light Art: Continuous 3-Dimensional Luminous Images Produced on Rapidly Rotating Strings [pp. 208 - 209]A Commentary on Harold Osborne's Book "Abstraction and Artifice in Twentieth-Century Art" [pp. 210 - 212]Kinetic Sculpture: My Mobiles of Wire and Thread Forming Geometrical Surfaces [pp. 213 - 215]'Water Portraits': Colour Photographs of Reflections on Water Surfaces and an Audio-Visual Programme Based on Them [pp. 216 - 217]Some Comments on the Pictorial Art by Schizophrenics [pp. 218 - 219]

    DocumentsAn Exchange of Views on Gestalt Psychology and Aesthetic Explanation [pp. 220 - 223]Discussions by Two Artists of the Background to Their Drawings [pp. 224 - 229]Art and Science [pp. 238 - 242]

    Statements on the Relationships between the Natural Sciences and the Visual Fine Arts and, in Particular, on the Meaning of Order (Part II)Visual Art and Mathematics: Common Characteristics of Order [pp. 230 - 231]On Order in Art and in Science [pp. 231 - 232]The Golden Section and Human Evolution [pp. 232 - 233]Comments on Aesthetically Satisfying Order in the Arts [pp. 233 - 234]On the Search for Order in the Physical Universe [pp. 234 - 235]On Symmetry in Nature and in the Visual Arts [pp. 235 - 236]The Nature of Blackness in Art and Visual Perception [pp. 236 - 237]

    Terminology [p. 243]International News and Opportunities [pp. 244 - 245]Calendar of Events [p. 246]Booksuntitled [p. 247]untitled [pp. 247 - 248]untitled [p. 248]untitled [pp. 248 - 249]untitled [p. 249]untitled [p. 250]untitled [pp. 250 - 251]untitled [pp. 251 - 252]untitled [p. 252]untitled [p. 252]untitled [pp. 252 - 253]untitled [p. 253]untitled [p. 253]untitled [pp. 253 - 254]untitled [p. 254]untitled [pp. 254 - 255]untitled [p. 255]untitled [p. 255]untitled [pp. 255 - 256]untitled [p. 256]untitled [p. 256]untitled [pp. 256 - 257]untitled [p. 257]untitled [p. 257]untitled [pp. 257 - 258]untitled [p. 258]untitled [p. 258]untitled [pp. 258 - 259]untitled [p. 259]untitled [p. 259]untitled [p. 259]untitled [p. 259]untitled [p. 260]Books Received [pp. 260 - 261]

    LettersWire Toys [p. 262]Perspective as a Convention: On the Views of Goodman and Gombrich (Continued) [p. 262]On Application of the Golden Ratio [pp. 262 - 263]

    On Book ReviewsThe Quest for Gaia: A Book of Changes [p. 263]Colors of Rage and Love: The Process of Change in Psychotherapy Elucidated by the Patient's Own Drawings: A Picture Book of Internal Events [pp. 263 - 264]

    Back Matter


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