In 1960, the Aral Sea had an area of 68,000 km2 and its surface elevation was 53.4 meters above sea level. It has since shrunk to under 27,000 km2, its elevation is down to about 30 meters above sea level, and what was once the Earths fourth largest inland body of water has split up into three: the Aibugir Sea in the southwest, the Large Aral Sea in the south, and the Small Aral Sea in the north. The cities of Aral and Mujnak that were located right on the shore in 1960 are now situated more than 150 kilometers from the paltry remains of what was once the Aral Sea. A silted wasteland stretches from their city limits to the current waterline.
The Aral Sea is the symbol of an environmental catastrophe caused by humankind. And so it isat the outset of the 21st century, its become clear that weve arrived at the threshold of a new age here on Earth: the Anthropocene. An age characterized by our massiveand more and more often irreversibleimpact on the environment. Up to now, that is. Because its no longer just the environment were modifying. Its the fundamentals of life that were subjugating to our will to make things the way we want them. The fundamentals of our life.
September 3-8, 2009, the Ars Electronica Festival
will be dedicated to HUMAN NATURE. An exciting dialog at the interface of art, technology and society is on tap once again. Kicking things off will be Starry, Starry Night during which everything will be rotating and revolving around the past, present and future of astronomy and space exploration. The educational institution orchestrating Campus09 will be MIT; under the direction of Professor Hiroshi Ishii, the head of the Things That Think program, the Boston school will present ideas and projects that aim to link up digital phenomena and the reality of our physical and sensory perceptions. Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, 2009s featured artist, also comes from Japanas does his twin android Geminoid. Two major symposia are on the agenda: one dealing with Human Nature, the other with Cloud Intelligence. The latter is being curated by bloggers David Sasaki (US) and Isaac Mao (CN). On Linzs Hauptplatz (Main Square), Ars Electronica and radio station Ö1 are hosting an encounter with Japanese computer game & manga culture. In the Brucknerhaus, the Golden Nica statuettes will be presented to this years Prix Ars Electronica prizewinners; as always, their work will be showcased by the CyberArts exhibition in the OK.