This year’s Ars Electronica Festival hosted over 33,000 visitors who came to ponder works that explored the festival’s theme: hybrid.

The festival featured exhibits contributed by 453 participants from 26 countries.

Beyond the exhibits, speakers hashed out the effects of recombinant engineering, digital personas, the emergence of an “always on” culture and how hybridization as a cultural process could only be controlled in the rarest of cases.

“The hybrid is the signature of our age,” said Gerfried Stocker, the artistic director of Ars Electronica. “It’s emblematic of the casualness with which we have established ourselves in real, physical habitats as well as in digital, virtual domains. Nobody planned SMS or citizen journalism in the form of blogging, RSS feeds and podcasting. Their emergence is a hybrid condition that was most certainly foretold by visionary artists and cultural theoreticians, though not by the marketing gurus of the new economy.”

Next year’s festival will run from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5; the theme will be announced in January.

By Lakshmi Sandhana

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