The European Digital Art and Science Network supports new CREATION processes for artists

As art and science are getting more and more closer within current fields of research and creation in digital arts, new structures and networks are appearing and trying to support this recent innovative connection. Managed by Ars Electronica, the European Digital Art and Science Network is one of the pioneering models of this rising way to stressing out new perspectives for artists, as explains us Tina Reinthaler, its project manager.

European Digital Art and Science Network gathers scientific mentoring institutions like ESA - European Space Agency -, ESO - European Southern Observatory – and CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research -, and a group of European cultural partners including the Ars Electronica Futurelab, through a series of artists residencies. Can you explain us the stakes behind this?

Tina Reinthaler: The main idea of the network is to draw a bow between micro- and macro-cosmos of science and digital art. For this “big strategic aim” it was very important for us to get the Europe’s peak in scientific research (ESO, ESA and CERN), the Ars Electronica Futurelab - providing state-of-the-art technical production possibilities in a transdisciplinary discourse - as well as seven European cultural partners representing strong and various European cultural and artistic positions. It was very important for us to focus on the European strength and the various possibilities in the realm of art and science. Some of the cultural partners were already existing partners of Ars Electronica and as we confronted them with our idea to create the European Digital Art and Science Network they all were highly interested and joined our idea immediately.

The Open Call for the residency at CERN continued a very successful collaborative partnership between CERN and Ars Electronica – so we already had some experiences in organizing these kind of science & art related residencies. Also the European Southern Observatory as well as the European Space Agency were immediately into the idea. For the scientific institutions, especially ESO and ESA, it’s a new way of thinking and they are very interested in the question not only what can art learn from science but also what can science learn from art. So we are not only trying to push emerging artists but also to connect the different institutions which are interested or already working in art & science.

What is the role of Ars Electronica in this European Digital Art and Science Network?

T.R.: A team of Ars Electronica is managing the European Digital Art and Science Network. The Ars Electronic Futurelab - the research lab of Ars Electronica - is one partner of the network and is providing the second residency state where artists together with mentors and experts from the Futurelab are working. During the first time of residency, selected artists – we had four residencies so far – go to CERN (Switzerland)/ESA (Netherlands)/ESO (Chile) for the scientific part of the residency. Afterwards they are coming to the Ars Electroncia Futurelab to work on creating new artworks based on the scientific ideas they gathered. Afterwards the outcome is first presented at the Ars Electronica Festival. Then the artistic outcome is travelling to every partner institution to being presented within an exhibition or a conference setting.

What is the point of interest for artists applying for a residence?

T.R.: We really want to give the artist the opportunity for a long and intense residency-process. The fact that scientists have only limited time for doing this extra mentoring with the artists lead us to the decision that only one artist or artistic group should be there each time. Within the four Open Calls realized so far nearly 900 artists worldwide applied for the scientific/artistic residencies.

Aoife Van Linden Tol
Aoife Van Linden Tol: Explosions as Creative Forces. Read Interview

This year, Irish artist Aoife van Linden Tol has been granted a residency at ESA and German Quadrature artist’s collective has been granted a residency at ESO. Can you explain us the projects behind both of them?

T.R.: The jury had high praise for Aoife van Linden Tol, an artist whose previous work has involved several scientific disciplines including chemistry, physics and cosmology. She develops installations, stages performances, paints, photographs and shoots films (see photos). She’s fascinated by explosions—by their tremendous power and devastating effect. In her application for a residency at the ESA and the Ars Electronica Futurelab, Aoife van Linden Tol submitted the idea of a “Star Storm” showcasing the lifecycle and physical characteristics of stars. During her stay at the ESA, she intends to learn more about stars from the organization’s scientists and then channel that knowledge into an “explosive performance.” The “Star Storm” she aims to trigger is to be characterized by the incessant interplay of chaos and order, of meditative calm alternating with energy-charged tension. Her mission is to be informative and simultaneously to awaken strong emotions.

Aoife van linden tol
Second Story / Aoife Van Linden Tol credit: Florian Voggeneder

Outer space is by no means terra incognita for Quadrature  - an artist collective based in Berlin representing Jan Bernstein, Juliane Götz and Sebastian Neitsch. Several of the collective’s previous works deal with methods we human beings employ to explore the cosmos. One example is a project entitled Voyager in which the artists employ slowly moving metal cursors to indicate the current flight paths and velocities of NASA’s Voyager 1 & 2 space probes. Another example is Satelliten a work that earned Quadrature an Honorary Mention in the 2015 Prix Ars Electronica’s Interactive Art category. Satelliten is a machine that graphically documents the movements and positions of satellites. Serving as the “canvases” for these drawings are out-of-date maps among the pages of a bound atlas.


Based on their experiences within the residency at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, they focused on two themes: data of exoplanets and equilibrium states in our universe. In the end they also created two artworks: Masses and Stones.
Masses (Motors And Stones Searching for Equilibrium State) manifests the meaning of a Sisyphean task. The sole purpose of the machine is to maintain two large stones on a steel plate in perfect equilibrium. An endless succession of feedback effects and adjustments is necessary to prevent the incessantly threatening, imminent loss of balance. Instead of achieving the calm stability that’s being pursued, the work is in a state of motion that’s as constant as it is delicate—a situation between falling and floating.

MASSES at the bunker of POSTCITY. Quadrature’s installation manifests the meaning of a Sisyphean task. credit: Florian Voggeneder

Stones (Storage Technology for Observed Nearby) tends to interpret findings in the field of astronomy from our limited human point of view. For example, such momentous revelations as the fact that there are 40+ known planets on which water—and thus, life—could exist. Stones liberates these objectively assured facts from any and all human interpretation and passes them on to coming generations in their pure form as representations for which no prerequisite cultural background is necessary for them to be grasped. They can be decoded by means of pure logic and scientific observations.

Have you got projects of development towards other art & science structures and extra partners?

T.R.: This year we tried to open our network to other institutions/artists/etc. also working in the realm of art & science by inventing the art & science international network where we already started to present and link other institutions. We also developed a tool: the beehive art & science which is an app available for IoS and Android, that all institutions, artists, visitors or other people interested in the European Digital Art and Science Network are able to download for free to make documentations in the form of short videos about the residencies, the artists, the network, exhibitions, etc. and load it up to the beehive. So all interested people swarm out like bees and catch their personal view on the network through this online platform.

Website :

Laurent Catala

Photo Title:  Orbits by Quadrature (DE) at the Ars Electronica Center's Deep Space 8K. credit: Tom Mesic

See also:  the Alchemists of Art and Science exhibition at the Ars Electronica Center Linz. October 25, 2016.