Ars Electronica

Prix Ars Electronica


ORF Oberösterreich

The Golden Nica award for the 1991 Prix Ars Electronica in Interactive Arts was awarded to Paul Sermon of Great Britain for his hypermedia work "Think about the people now (Think about the media now)".

In this work Sermon creates something interactive which centres on an actual event reported by the media in December of 1990; during a Remembrance Day ceremony a protester covered himself with petrol and set himself alight shouting, "Think about the people now". The art work has two separate elements, each of which involve interactivity. In the first, Sermon has assembled a large collection of information, film footage, sounds and texts. Using the hypermedia technology, the viewer is able to explore and navigate in different ways through the information by selecting at each point the next direction that he/she wishes to understand better. In the second element, Sermon provides a connection via computer networks to people in other countries. The viewer is thus able to engage in a conversation and receive commentaries, at the same time as exploring the hypermedia data base. The work therefore includes both private interaction, where the viewer controls the direction of the exploration of the work, and a public interaction, where other people can affect the viewer. For the jury, this was a unanimous decision for a work which demonstrates one of the important tendencies in interactive art. It is the kind of work which could not be made without using the computer and which exploits the special capabilities of it.

The jury has also awarded two Distinctions for Interactive Art. They are awarded to Chico MacMurtrie /.Rick Sayre of the USA, for their work "The Tumbling Man", and to David Rokeby of Canada for his work "Very Nervous System".

David Rokeby has created for "Very Nervous System" an interactive environment. As the participants walk through this environment, sounds are created depending on the exact movements of the participant. In the installation, the work is located outdoors in a natural environment.The artist has created a totally new kind of musical instrument which also involves elements of dance. Rokeby has for many years been a pioneer in the development of this new interactive technology. Yet at the same time, the technology is almost invisible in the work itself. The emphasis is totally on the interactive performance.

The other Distinction was awarded to Chico MacMirtrie and Rick Sayre for their work "The Tumbling Man". The work consists of two participants connected to a robotic sculpture in the shape of a man. The movements of the participants are detected using electronic sensors, and these movements are copied by the robot. Different parts of each participant are, however, connected to the limbs of the robot. Therefore, for instance, it is possible for the arms of one participant to control the arms of the robot, while the legs of the robot are controlled by the legs of the other participant. In order to make the robot carry out the intended movements, the two participants must collaborate. As the work proceeds, the connections can be changed so that the participants must discover the new roles of the interaction. This work is an example of kinetic robotic sculpture which involves interactivity between both participants and the robot.

In last year''s competition Chico MacMurtrie received an Honorary Mention for his work "The Trees are Walking", also an interactive robotic sculpture. The jury was impressed by the strength, variety and originality of the sculptural work of this artist, aswell as the sophisticated use of robotic technologies, and the exploration of participant - interactivity as an intrinsic part of the work.

© Ars Electronica Linz GmbH,