The Ars Electronica Festival Linz 2021: Where microbe enthusiasts meet and look into the future

During Ars Electronica 2021 Linz was a meeting point of designers who are part of the growing worldwide community working with bacteria-based textile dyeing. You may wonder what’s our role in it? Our technology and expertise play a vital role in the rise of new aesthetic projects towards sustainable clothing. Here is the review of our exhibition visit through the eyes of our founder Karin at one of the world’s most important media art festivals. 

Karin, what is your overall impression of the exhibition?

It was good to be back and to experience the event physically and virtually. I believe this makes events even more impactful. Since my last visit in 2018 many things have changed, but what has not changed is that the exhibition is at the forefront of curating the impact on our future with new technologies and design.

Tell us about your personal exhibition highlights

I can not comment on this without complimenting the choice of the main exhibition site, the JKU campus. It is worth the tram ride to explore it and the weather was also very much in favour of the event. The campus is on the outskirts of Linz and nature is all around. The tranquillity, the historic buildings, and the vast space made an excellent impression on me and on the other visitors. My personal highlight was the presence of the bacterial dye projects, in which the Vienna Textile Lab was involved.

The pond (der Teich) is a great recreational area for JKU students, employees, and local residents, copyright by Karin Fleck

How did the Vienna Textile Lab contribute to it?

During the Worth Partnership Project, we collaborated closely with anima by Loreto and now we met again at the panel ‘Made in your city: a new value chain for fashion’ during the exhibition, where we discussed the perspectives on future options for clothing production. 

Starts Day: “Made in your city: A new value chain for Fashion”, Credit: Tom Mesic

We enjoyed being a partner of the LIT project ‘Growing Colors’ sponsored by JKU Polymer Science and Textile Kultur Haslach.

Prof. Dr. Sabine Hild, Head of the Polymer science at JKU with the textile and fashion designer Julia Moser, copyright by Karin Fleck

On this project, we collaborated closely with the textile and fashion designer Julia Moser demonstrating the potential of microorganisms in the dyeing process for textiles. You can read more about it in our interview.

Which key takeaways can you share with us?

I think that bio-based materials have been an integral part of Ars Electronica for years. It fills me with great pride that our partners and we have been involved this year. The exhibition and the festival are unique in all of Austria thus combining forward-thinking ideas and letting us peek into the future. I remember that nearly 20 years ago I went to the Ars Electronica center after a job interview and took my first virtual flight over Linz. What was then a far distant idea of virtual reality is now accessible to everyone. That is what I hope for the bacterial dyes as well – concepts and prototypes which are shown now will be available to everyone in the near future.

Patterning with living colors by Growing color Julia Moser, copyright by Karin Fleck VTL

What is next?

We are always looking for interesting collaborations! It is most rewarding to share common ideas and to exchange different views. It is one of our targets to promote a community of designers that are interested in our technology and allow them to work with us.

Julia Moser with the lab students Patrick Radic and Laura Holzinger at the Ars Electronica Festival 2021 in Linz, copyright by Karin Fleck

That means if you have an idea for a project you can contact us under this link