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Art and Multimedia

LMU at Ars Electronica 2017

München, 08/29/2017

In early September students enrolled in the Bachelor’s course in Art and Multimedia offered by LMU’s Institute for Art Education, and Master’s students in the Working Group on Media Informatics, will be on the road. Their goal is Linz, the Upper Austrian city which will host this year’s Ars Electronica. The students from Munich will be among the many artists who will be exhibiting their works at the now well established Festival, which focuses on the nexus between art, technology and society. This year’s show takes place on September 7-11.

Michel Hohendanner's version of "The Call of Cthulhu" can be seen at the Ars Electronica. The picture gallery show extracts from his digital comic.

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The horror stories written by H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) are dominated by a spine-chilling atmosphere and an all-pervading feeling of dread. Michel Hohendanner, who is studying Art and Multimedia at LMU, has used Lovecraft’s most famous story, “The Call of Cthulhu”, as the basis for an experimental, digital comic, which will be shown at the Ars Electronica in Linz. “The Festival provides me with a unique opportunity to reach a large and interested public and to persuade conservative fans of the traditional comic genre that the digital treatment of a famous story can also add something to the original,” says Michel. “The animated elements in my version shift the emphasis of the story, as the reader can decide what he wants to see at any point in the narrative. Then there is the music, which draws the reader inexorably into the story.” The visual style of the storytelling, together with the eerie and mysterious music, intensifies the sinister and uncanny mood of Lovecraft’s masterpiece.

From the drawing-board to the Ars Electronica
In addition to Hohendanner‘s horror comic, 13 other projects developed by LMU students will feature in the festival under the overall title “Sense of Space and Sense of Time”. The genres represented extend from interactive installations to virtual-reality projects, and from a light-shifting display to a drawing robot. “The projects were all developed in the context of the study module ‘Work on Artistic Projects’, in which students devote two semesters to a self-selected project. Not only Innovative technologies and exemplary works in the fields of Media Art and Design, but individual career goals and ideas for future Master’s projects served as sources of inspiration for the choice of themes. The study module is directed by Dr. Karin Guminiski, who places great emphasis on interactions between the participating students: “All project ideas are initially conceived on the basis of brain-storming and mind-mapping sessions, and the resulting concepts are then subjected to regular discussion to allow the creativity of the whole collective to be utilized. The whole development process benefits from the diverse backgrounds of the students involved and the range of ideas they bring to the course.” However, it was Guminski herself who came up with the notion of submitting the projects developed during the course to the organizers of the Ars Electronica: “We submitted videos, photos and short summaries of the various projects to the curators, and received the invitation to participate in May.” The jury was obviously impressed by the sheer variety of approaches represented among the work from Munich. “In light of the diversity of genres involved, we also sought the advice of specialists in particular fields when necessary.”

COMB is a shape-based interface for musical interactions.

Beat Roßmy, who obtained his B.A. in Art and Multimedia is now doing Master’s in Media Informatics, and his Master’s thesis project COMB is among the works that will be shown at the Ars Electronica. COMB is a shape-based interface for musical interactions. Several hexagonal building blocks can be combined in various ways to control the sequence of tones produced by different instruments, thus producing musical compositions. The system as it currently stands is essentially restricted to simple percussion instruments and recorders, but Roßmy hopes that his interface will find practical use in the early phase of musical education: “By experimenting with COMB in a playful and creative fashion, young children can learn how electronic music is produced.”

Inside Paris
Another of the projects that will be presented in Linz is also intended to meet a practical need. Alina Giesler is a student of Art and Multimedia at the Institute of Art Education, and her interactive travel guide “Inside Paris” is already available from the App Store. “Inside Paris“ enables the tourist to see the French capital through the eyes of its inhabitants by focusing on the city’s lesser known charms and the localities that are currently most popular among Parisians rather than the tourist attractions featured in conventional guidebooks. Like the other projects touched on here, Giesler’s app will also be part of the festival in Linz. “The Ars Electronica was a regular topic during my studies, and the opportunity to present my work at this year’s show is the final highlight of the course for me.”