Worlds in Progress


Curated by Alex Botts

As Ars Electronica returns to in-person programming after two years in digital spaces, the festival has challenged participating exhibitors to look forward rather than back, and to imagine a new world beyond the unique cataclysms of the 21st century. In considering that challenge, artists from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) reflected on the manufactured worlds that already exist nested within our real planet, and how digital citizens were forced by pandemic lockdowns, technological advances, and conflict at home and abroad to build their own artificial universes.

A World in Progress is not only a world that is yet to be completed, or yet to be revealed; it is also a world that is always already proceeding. This year the Art and Technology Studies department of SAIC exhibits worlds that are not only created and predicted but found in situ, alternative worlds made of the same fabric as our own but existing independently and in parallel. The artists chosen not only theorize on the nature of Planet B: they also show us what planets may already exist, created by the plugged-in denizens of Planet A to delight, confuse, titillate, distract, and even surveil themselves. As we continue to emerge from each 21st-century crisis changed and proceed into the next unprepared, the artists of Earth must look to the worlds of which we dream to begin to understand the planets we should next try to create.

Participating Artists