8:44 p.m. 4.Sep.99

The Psycho-Organic Configuration That's Called My Body

Mark Tribe Talks With Margarete Jahrmann

The festival opened to the public today, but for me and the rest of the openXrs this is day three. Awoke to an 8:30am wake-up call at the Sommer-haus Hotel, having finished my last beer at the bar around half past two. Despite various homeopathic medicaments, jet lag pulls at the edges of my biological clock. Luckily, the Austrian coffee is fairly strong.

After 48 hours of clouds and drizzle, the sun came out today, bathing the meadow-topped hills in a hazy blue light. Inside Bruckernhaus, the floor was buzzing with new media mavens. Our table had visitors from India, France, Japan, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the good old US of A. I stayed here while Marisa went into the auditorium to check out "Ars Electronica 79-99," a series of talks by various figures who've had a hand in shaping Ars Electronica over the past 20 years. Pretty boring by most accounts.

The talks drew the crows away from openX, which gave me a few minutes to catch up with old friend Margarete Jahrmann, who's showing linX3D, the latest result of her ongoing collaboration with Max Mooswitzer. Among the most glamorous and articulate artists I know, Maggie exemplifies Viennese sophistication: I've never seen someone so at home discoursing on network theory in a leopard skin mini-skirt.

Maggie turns up at almost every new media art festival in Europe or in the States. You know the acronyms: ISEA, DEAF, EMAF, SIGGRAPH. I asked Maggie what she hoped to get out of this year's Ars:

"I see this as a test platform for new work. It gives us a deadline to bring whatever projects we're working on to a state of presentable completion." Maggie went on to say that "it's also a about a social network. On the net I present my ASCII face. But the psycho-organic configuration that's called my body is more attractive than my data body. It's all about the network economy of attraction." Her comment is particularly relevant in light of the fact that one of her recent projects involves the generation of VRML avatars based on the log files of personal Web pages.

Later in the afternoon, David Hunt (the third leg on the Rhizome.org editorial tripod for this special Ars project) arrived after a harrowing trip from New York. We headed out for lunch of grilled Kurdish meats on the pastel-painted Hauptplatz. As we sat in the sun talking about art, I realized that, for me, perhaps the best thing about being here is that, for a few days at least, we get a chance to step out of the daily rush of our work lives and focus on the things that got us here.