Mapping the Archive

Mapping the Archive: 23 Years of Prix Ars Electronica

This exhibition is discussed on infosthetics in an overview post and more detailed here.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of ars electronica, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media.Art.Research. and the Ars Electronica teamed up for a review of the history of the festival. The history lounge exhibition features not only highlights from 3 decades of media art, but also an impressive 10m by 3m print with visualizations characterizing the "ars world".

poster overview

The huge poster at one glance: a 3m x 10m wallpaper

The Ars Electronica archive is examined on three different levels: at first a quantitative analysis of the entries at large since 1987, then the jury process as a social network analysis, and finally the winning projects in their art historic conceptualization.


X by Y by Moritz Stefaner visualizes all submissions to the prix ars electronica, from the early beginnings in 1987 up to 2009. The goal is to characterize the "ars world" in quantititive terms. A series of diagrams groups and juxtaposes the submissions by years, categories, prizes and countries. The graphics are composed of little dots (each representing a single submission) to provide a visual scale for the statistical statements and thematize the relation of the totality and the individual.

X by Y

X by Y

Jury Process

Media Art as Social Process by Dietmar Offenhuber and Gerhard Dirmoser examines the social networks behind the prix ars electronica: "Each year a combination of new and recurrent jury members meet to identify the winning projects. Often the awarded artists from the previous year are invited as jury members. A social network has evolved over the years, which is here on display."



Furthermore the jury writes a statement for each winning project. Over the years, these statements have been growing into a large collection of texts. Each of them is visualized by Jaume Nualart as a texty: small visualizations showing strcuture, length and topics of a text at a glance.


Proxemantics, also by Jaume Nualart generates a network of the keywords of all the Prix Ars Electronica jury statements. It uses the structure of texts (sentences, paragraphs, etc.) to harvest semantic relationships between annotations based on their spatial proximity. Is it possible to extract semantic meaning from a text’s linguistic code?



In the "winners" section of the poster, the Prix Landscape Interactive Art by Evelyn Münster shows all works that have been awarded in the category of „Interactive Art“ since its inception in 1990 up until 2009. The proximity of two works represents its similarity. The terms that are assigned to a work are symbolized by petals, whereas each term has a unique shape. When several terms are applied, the combination of petals results in an individual profile for each work. The Color Saturation communicates the year of production of a piece: older pieces are represented in a lighter shade.


This network shows an excerpt from the thesaurus of electronic media art by Gerhard Dirmoser, in which the winning projects of the Prix Ars Electronica are contextualized in their art historic environment. Represented is the area of "digital performance" – based on terms from the theoretical publication of the same title by Steve Dixon. Although this topic is not actually a category of the Prix Ars Electronica, it highlights overall aspects that the various categories have in common.


On display are all persons who have been submitting for the Prix Ars Electronica more than once or who have been awarded at least one time. Genres have been coded with single letters, however they are not identically with the Prix categories; e. g. N represents all net-based categories. The individual persons are concentrated to clusters according to their "similarity", which means a similar behavior in the way they submit to categories as well as public presence (number of citations in publications and other relevant media).