Australian artists at Prix Ars Electronica 2012

1 June 2012 Artery

The Inter-Arts Office congratulates the artists who have been nominated and awarded for their outstanding work by the renowned Prix Ars Electronica. This international competition for cyberarts celebrates the pioneering creative work at the interface of art, technology and society, and has been running since 1987 as a part of the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria. This year Australian artists working with interactive and hybrid arts have an exciting profile in the Prix Ars platform.

Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerine with Matthew Gingold have won the Award of Distinction for the Interactive Art category of Prix Ars Electronica 2012. Their award-winning work It’s a jungle in here will be presented at the Ars Electronica Gala 31 August 2012 within the Festival Ars Electronica. The artists were supported to develop this work by the Australia Council’s Digital Culture Fund. Matthew has also been selected for a residency with the Ars Electronica FutureLab initiative supported by the Visual Arts Board.

It’s a jungle in here is an interactive installation that explores the boundaries between what’s ok and what’s not in everyday encounters. The work is animated frame by frame using paper puppets and a diorama of the Upfield train line in Victoria, and housed in a cabinet intricately designed to engage two participants as performers in a drama in which they have little control. In the artists’ words, the work ‘steals your identity and transforms you into someone you may not want to be.’ This work premiered at Screen Space as part of the 2011 Melbourne Festival, and followed You Were In My Dream which won  Isobel and Van the 2010 Premier of Queensland’s National New Media Art Award. You can also see a recent review by Ulanda Blair in Realtime of It’s a jungle in here.

Peta Clancy and Helen Pynor have received an Honorary Mention for the Hybrid Arts category of Prix Ars Electronica 2012 for The Body is a Big Place. This collaborative research and exhibition explored organ transplantation, with support from an Inter-Arts Projects grant. The artists explored the tenuous boundary between life and death and the complex tensions between consciousness, subjectivity, mind and body. Peta and Helen first exhibited this project as a media arts and performance installation at Performance Space in 2011. They have gone on to explore organ donation protocols through a residency at the Heart and Lung Transplant Unit, St Vincent’s Hospital (NSW) supported by the Synapse program of the Australian Network for Art and Technology and the Inter-Arts Office. Helen has also recently completed a Visual Arts Board London Residency.

Another Honorary Mention in the Hybrid Arts category was announced for Prue Lang and her sustainable dance performance Un réseau translucide. She collaborated with Amanda Parkes from MIT Media Lab to invent ‘intelligent’ costumes that harvest the dancer’s energy during performance.

Ricardo Peach, Acting Director of the Inter-Arts Office, says ‘Australian artists continue to deliver extraordinary milestones in media and interactive art on the world stage. The Australia Council is proud to have supported the work of such talented artists, and we look forward to many more projects from artists working with technology in the future.’

See the full list of Prix Ars Electronica awards. For further information about Australia Council support for hybrid and interdisciplinary arts, contact the Inter-Arts Office, ph 02 9215 9077 or email

Image Credits: It’s a jungle in here – screen shot & VIMEO documentation, 2011, Isobel Knowles, Van Sowerwine with Matthew Gingold, Single channel animation with stereo audio from hard-drive, custom software, electronics, plywood booth, headphones, seat. Coding and interface electronics: Matthew Gingold. Carpentry: Don Russell. Soundtrack: Finn Robertson. Additional coding: Oliver Marriott