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Technology & Art & Commerce: Kunsthalle Wien takes a scientific look at advertising
In focus – an exhibition at the Kunsthalle Wien shows the relationship between technological developments and commercial ads. © Christian Lendl.

VIENNA.- A successful exhibition at the Kunsthalle Wien provided scientifically grounded - and playfully presented - insights into images used in the media. The exhibition focused on the dynamic relationship between technological developments and their use in commercial ad films. The exhibition was no less the result of than the actual question posed by a HERA project - a European initiative to firmly establish the humanities in the European research landscape. For Austria, the initiative is funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF - and thanks to numerous outstanding project proposals, has led to an extremely positive "funding balance" for the Republic.

Ad films boost commerce. And what brings money may cost some. That´s why the latest audiovisual technologies are often given a chance here more quickly than in other areas - and they attract an artistic avant-garde that finds greater scope for their creativity. This fascinating network of relationships was shown from March 5 to 17 in a specially developed format in the exhibition "Play & Prosume" at the Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna (Austria). This exhibition was also part of a scientific project that was carried out in international partnership at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, for which the project also represented a further major contribution of artistic-scientific research.

The exhibition showcased numerous ads from film and television, as well as experimental and industry films, all of which were supplemented with collector´s cards. The organisers selected an unusual exhibition format for the presentation. In the words of Dr. Margarete Jahrmann, who curated the exhibition together with her colleague Prof. Brigitte Felderer: "Our team developed a playful format that would essentially allow visitors to take a look behind the images on display. In this way, they become "prosumers", or in other words, consuming producers." Codes that were specially developed for the exhibition allow interested viewers to comprehend the research results, to understand them by experiencing them, and to respond in a playful manner.

For the team working with Dr. Jahrmann, the exhibition was also a very important part of a comprehensive research project. Started in summer 2010, the project focused on the commercial use of artistic media design, and was backed by a strong international network. It was realized in cooperation with partners at Plymouth University in England and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

However, the now-completed exhibition was by no means "only" the conclusion of the project, but also part of the scientific work itself, as Dr. Jahrmann explains: "For us, the research on media representation isn't completed with a descriptive document. In the spirit of artistic research, we used the exhibition to once again pose to ourselves the underlying questions of our project - which, however, could also be answered in their own context within the framework of the exhibition."

The entire project was financed in the context of the European ERA-NET scheme HERA as a Joint Research Programme (JRP). This is an initiative of a total of 13 European funding organisations and the European Science Foundation (ESF) with financial support from the European Commission. The JRP, which was launched in 2010, also supported the Play & Prosume exhibition. On behalf of Austria, the FWF contributed a total of nearly EUR 1.2 million to the initiative.

The funds provided by all the partner organisations and the EU were viewed as a single sum and serve to support the best projects in all member states. Eligibility for funding is determined solely by the quality of the submitted proposals. Against this background, the FWF´s commitment to the JRP "paid off" handsomely: Altogether, almost EUR 2.3 million in research funding flowed back into the Republic. That s nearly twice what the FWF invested, and is an impressive international acknowledgement of the quality of Austrian humanities scholars.

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