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School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

PhD students from the MAT programme contribute to the Ars Electronica Festival 2020

A group of PhD students from the Media and Arts Technology (MAT) programme contributed to this year’s Ars Electronica Festival which took place from 9th - 13th of September 2020



Established in 1979, Ars Electronica is the internationally unique platform for digital art and media culture. In 2019, the festival saw over 100,000 visitors from all over the world come together in Linz, Austria. This year, wide parts of the festival moved online, developing a global journey that maps the ‘new’ world under the theme In Kepler’s Gardens. Participating in the 3rd consecutive year, MAT curated a series of PhD works that were presented in the online exhibition The Garden of Forking Paths.

The Garden of Forking Paths showcases seven interactive artworks, demos and performances, all the product of current PhD research in Media and Arts Technology. Working with sound, image, text, materials and structure, each artist explores aspects of how we think, sense and act when physical and digital worlds collide. Encounter an oversized musical instrument, converse with a chatbot about the future of interactive art, draw with sound, and see life through the eyes of an Alzheimer’s patient.


Lia Mice - PRISM

PRISM BELL is a large-scale digital musical instrument that seeks to explore the influence of instrument size on music performance. The instrument is two metres tall, two metres wide and features twenty pendulums each with a unique bell-like tone. Influenced by the unexpected sensitivity of oversized acoustic instruments, the gestures used to perform PRISM BELL range from full-body choreography to millimetre-sized micro-gestures that can change the overall timbre of the instrument.

Andrea Guidi (IT) Giacomo Lepri (IT) - UVTOWER

Andrea Guidi - Giacomo Lepri

UVTOWER is a musical instrument made of lasers and mirrors that explores rhythm as the result of structural relationships. The flow of the rhythm is traced in a circle by a laser beam situated at the top of a tower. Mirrors mark the beats at different positions around the circle. Adding and removing mirrors leads to the performance of musical structures. The project challenges the notions of musical time and music sequencers by configuring alternative ways to compose and perform patterns.

Sebastian Löbbers (DE) - Seeing sounds, hearing shapes

Sebastian Lobbers- Seeing sounds, hearing shapes

Humans are surprisingly capable of detecting the most minute differences between noises, but struggle to accurately describe how a sound sounds. Beyond the limits of language, we can use different methods of communication to identify what makes a sound unique. For Seeing sounds, hearing shapes 28 participants were asked to describe a sound by sketching an image. Visitors can explore these visual representations and test their ability to recognise a sound from a sketch in an interactive gallery.

Betül Aksu (TR) - The Artist’s Inner Speech about Interactivity

 Betul Aksu - TAISAI

The Artist’s Inner Speech about Interactivity - or TAISAI in short - is a humorous and artsy chatbot. TAISAI invites the audience to witness the artist’s internal monologue about the future of interactive art after the pandemic. TAISAI is chatty when it comes to the definition of interactivity, and speculative about the future.

Teodoro Dannemann (CL) - SonicDraw

 Teo Dannemann- Sonic Draw

SonicDraw is a web application that allows the easy creation of looped sound through the metaphor of drawing and painting. Visitors are invited to explore visual textures and the sounds that emerge from them. Lines, shapes and airbrushes are mapped to oscillators, noises and filters in an intuitive way, enabling visitors to rapidly create complex visual and sonic structures. The result of the interaction is an audio-visual piece that the creator can share in a collaborative online exhibition.

Shivani Hassard (UK), Angela McArthur (UK), Vanessa Pope (UK/CH) - Sundowning

Shivani_Hassard - Sundowning

You have found yourself in the middle of a play but you can’t remember your lines and you’re not even sure of your character. Born out of a family member's diagnosis and decline, Sundowning is a virtual reality film that explores the experience of having Alzheimer’s from a first-person perspective. The experience combines an embodied 360° video with theatre and an interactive, higher order ambisonic soundscape, giving the viewer a new understanding of this strange and isolating disease.

Mei Zhang (CN) - Infinite

 Mei Zhang - Infinite

Infinite is an eTextile toolkit developed with a low entry threshold for fashion and textile designers who have no prior experience in electronics while also supporting functions that require more complex circuitry. It allows for open-ended textile interface explorations and encourages designers to create interfaces out of raw materials in the context of their fashion or textiles projects. Infinite was exhibited alongside design-led experimental projects by student designers from the Royal College of Art. The collection was a collaboration project between Queen Mary University of London, Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art.

Participating PhD Students

Betül Aksu, Teo Dannemann, Andrea Guidi, Shivani Hassard, Giacomo Lepri, Sebastian Löbbers, Angela McArthur, Lia Mice, Vanessa Pope, Mei Zhang

Organisation Team

Prof. Nick Bryan-Kinns, Jonathan Winfield, Louise Bryce, Sebastian Löbbers, Nicole Robson, Francesco Soave, Jianing Zheng

Supported by the EPSRC and AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Media and Arts Technology (EP/L01632X/1)

In collaboration with Imperial College London, and the RCA Textiles Futures Project 2020, the Royal College of Art, UK.

Watch the video below to find out more about the exhibition:

Find out more
Exhibition website:
Ars Electronica landing page: