"Everyone will have his own pocket telephone that will enable him to get in touch with anyone he wishes. People living in the Wireless Age will be able to go everywhere with their transceivers, which they will be able to affix wherever they like— to their hat, for instance …“ Robert Sloss: "The Wireless Century,” in: "The World in 100 Years,” Berlin, 1910
The new exhibition in the Ars Electronica Center Linz pays tribute to the creativity, courage and inventiveness of those men and women who have totally committed their energies, abilities and knowledge to a vision of the future. This exhibition surveys a 200-year time span: looking back at what people about a century ago anticipated for this day and age, and showcasing what contemporary thinkers foresee 100 years from now.
As proxies standing for all the visionaries and trailblazers who have worked on their respective „futures“ over the course of humankind‘s history, French writer, illustrator and caricaturist Albert Robida (1848–1926) and Belgian visionary Paul Otlet (1868–1944) occupy this exhibition‘s spotlight.
Albert Robida displayed astounding foresight in his descriptions and graphic renderings of technological and sociopolitical developments. And, in doing so, he did not fail to cast a critical eye on things to come and to point out the dangers accompanying them. The subjects he focused on—for instance, networked (interpersonal and human-machine) communication, the population explosion and the food problems it yields, architectural & traffic planning concepts—are no less highly charged now than they were 100 years ago.
Albert Robida designed an entire futuristic universe in his books and drawings. Paul Otlet, on the other hand, focused on making knowledge available to all humankind. Together with Nobel Peace Prize winner Henri La Fontaine, Otlet founded the Mundaneum, a universal library that was the first „analog“ search engine long before the advent of Google, Wikipedia and Amazon. Free and equal access to knowledge is another issue that is as relevant now as it ever was.
The third part of the exhibition features the Prix Ars Electronica’s prizewinning Next Ideas. For several years now, Ars Electronica and voestalpine have awarded [the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant as a means of actively nurturing innovative developments and enabling very creative people to implement their visionary concepts.Regardless of whether these innovations are of an artistic, social, technological or scientific nature, all of the projects that make up this exhibition fascinate us with their extraordinary, original ideas for our future.
One of them was honored by the 2009 Prix Ars Electronica with a Golden Nica: Open Sailing, the vision of an organic architecture in the form of a floating city. Remarkable do-it-yourself technologies are this project‘s response to the challenges posed by overpopulation, climate change and energy conflicts.