Chapter 13. The Design of "X by Y"

An Information-Aesthetic Exploration of the Ars Electronica Archives

Moritz Stefaner

THIS CHAPTER PRESENTS THE PROJECT "X BY Y," a visualization of all entries to the Prix Ars Electronica, a well-known media art award, from 1987 to 2009. The final version of the visualization consists of a series of large-scale prints, splitting up the submissions according to different criteria. This chapter describes the process leading up to the final piece, and the rationale for specific design decisions.

Briefing and Conceptual Directions

The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for contacted me in spring 2009 to work on the submission databases for the Prix Ars Electronica. The media art festival Ars Electronica had its 30th anniversary that year, and together, we decided to take on the challenge of trying to visually analyze all the submissions to the Prix over its 22-year history. The databases containing the submission information had never before been analyzed in their entirety.

In the kickoff meeting for the project, we discussed our objectives. The creative lead of the whole visualization project, Dietmar Offenhuber, explained that different visualizations were to be developed in order to study three different angles on the festival's history:

Quantitative analysis

What can we say about the festival by looking at the submissions over the years? How do the various categories differ, where do the submissions come from, and how do the values change ...

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