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The Digital Art Weeks : A Decade of Accomplishment


Zurich and Basel Switzerland, Xian, Shanghai and Bejing China, Vancouver Island, Canada, Singapore, Singapore and Seoul, South Korea are the places in which the Digital Art Weeks Internaional have take place over the past nine years. Each of these have been locations which have provided unique cultural settings as well a network of collaborators offering insights into new developments in science, art and technology.

From start, the Digital Art Weeks has advocated an intercultural dialog through its collaborative nature. Professionally produced art-science exhibitions, transdisciplinary conferences and an intergenerational outreach program, have opened new paths for promoting Swiss art and science by bringing together expertise from a wide range of fields and fostering the exchange of knowledge on a global level and to offer experiences beyond the borders set by any discipline or area of knowledge, offering insights into current research and innovations in art and technology and illustrated resulting synergies, making artists aware of impulses in technology and scientists aware of the possibilities for applying technology in the arts.


Founded on the ETH Zurich in the Department of Computer Science in 2005, the DAW’s initial goal was to drive interdisciplinary initiatives involving innovations in computer science and increase their visibility and to provide working prototypes through the arts under the motto “art and science creatively connected”. However, the palette of the program soon expanded from its initial art-science origins as internet communications technology (ICT) began to change the way we live, how we work, define how our social lives unfold. As ICT set off innovations in the area of cultural politics and social reform, completely refiguring society inwardly and outwardly, the DAW moved forward with a program that focused on science, art, and the humanities in the digital age

The DAW is run by a core team that takes care of the planinng phases and which is extended for the realisation phase by a committee of  artists and scientists from diverse countries from several continents.  For each location in which the DAW is hosted,  there is a group of local institutions from both the academic as well as from the industry participating. These are then paired and linked to those from Switzerland. The DAW is therefore an international cooperative in the form of a network that provides the proper framework while participating institutes and partners provide content. Administration, marketing and public relations have always been handled as a cooperative between the DAW network and participating institutes and partners.

Taken as a model for hybridity, the structural approach taken by the DAW naturally nurtures new forms of innovation across disciplines and sectors by understanding that fostering of innovation is a complex and multifarious task, which requires the networking of different resources and talents, the pooling of skills, the challenging of boundaries, and the exploration of risk. New forms of convergence between disciplinary practices are now seen as a necessity, and point to an understanding of innovation that must include some form of hybridity if it is to prove effective. By offering such a program, the Digital Art Weeks continuously reaches out to institutions to establish – with all force – an innovative platforms that can help tackle the complex challenges and opportunities they encounter and face many of our twenty-first century problems,


The identity of the festival has developed over the years to include branded events that reoccur with each new edition of the festival. Each of these events represents a vibrant focal point and by combining them in a modular fashion, the results determine all aspects of the festival such as program content, scope of participants, audience reach, as well as sponsorships.

Keeping its origin in mind, the DAW has maintains a touch of “swissness” in its core events by presenting leading Swiss figures and staging intercultural dialogue between Switzerland and the DAW’s host country by combining them key world figures from the arts, science, education, and technology onto a single platform, contributing to the development of lasting partnerships and collaborations across the globe.

The organizers of the DAW are using this model for all future events, because taking a modular approach to organizing a festival makes it flexible and adaptable to different cultural terrains, so that it can continue taking place in diverse countries with local as well as international partnerships working in symbiosis. The modular approach to creating the festival was formed over almost a decade of involvement and has led to the combining of branded events which are integral to the identity of the Digital Art Weeks Festival. Each of these events has offered a vibrant focal point and by combining them in a modular fashion, the results determine all aspects of the festival such as program content, scope of participants, audience reach, as well as sponsorships.

The organizers of the DAW have been adopting this model for all future events making it flexible and adaptable to different cultural terrains, so that it can continue taking place in diverse countries with local as well as international partnerships working in symbiosis. Through the same process, it has been possible for the DAW to establish five independent events that have international appeal and which can be run indepently from the DAW, but at the same time function as a constituent part of the DAW festival itself, providing a unique interdisciplinary program for a very diverse and wide target audience, which transcends age, gender, as well as nationality.

The identity of the festival has developed over the years to include several branded events that reoccur with each new edition of the festival. Each of these represents a vibrant cultural focal point that is integral to the Digital Art Weeks Festival.

“The Off Label Project, which is a grass roots event that picks up local artists and artists run spaces, creatively connects them, and bootstraps them onto an international level from which locals benefit from the recognition and which allows internationals to explore the local artists networks and communities.

“The Innovations Forum” is a playground for innovation and focuses on the creative impulse that drives innovation and invites persons from all fields of knowledge to present who acknowledge that “a need for change” is the key-driving factor behind all forms of innovation. The event proves time and again that this type of event is crucial to creating collaborations that go beyond known boundaries.

“The Virtuale” stands for Virtual Biennale and is an exhibit in virtual space using new digital tools not only to view the artwork, but also to design actual the viewing experience. The exhibitions for the Virtuale focus on the use of public space using mobile communication technologies. As as an event, it explores diverse aspects of public space, the types of audiences found in such spaces, as well as inventing new marketing strategies so that public audience can be brought into the exhibit as “true” visitors.

 Each of the above-mentioned events has become an integral part of the DAW festival and each targets on the one hand a particular group of participants and on the other a specific audience. The marketing strategy for each of the events differs so that a comprehensive marketing campaign can be used to widely promote the festival. This modular approach to organizing a festival makes the DAW flexible and adaptable to different cultural terrains, so that it can continue taking place in diverse countries with local as well as international partnerships working in symbiosis.


Some of the most important milestone for the DAW include collaboration with ETH Singapore Center and ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands Singapore during DAW Singapore 2013, which seeded the ground for future partnership between both institutes. During his opening speech fir the DAW Innovation Forum 2013, Prof. Gerhard Schmidt, former Director of ETH Singapore Center underlined the importance of the DAW by strengthen its role as a creative endeavor which address tglobal challenges in urban sustainability.

A further milestone of the DAW Festival includes collaboration with Seoul National University Museum of Arts (SNUMoA) in 2014. The DAW Seoul has created a unique exhibition platform and a conference where a number of important Swiss and Korean institutes including ETH Zurich, EPFL, CERN, HEAD Geneva, as well as flagship European Human Brain Project participated. The Director of the Museum, Kim Seong Heui underlined that the Hybrid Highlights exhibition and the Innovation Forum showed the importance of international cooperation for more creative and advanced future between Switzerland and Korea.

The Festival has also above all consistently invested in promotion of creative education program by providing a platform of exchange and experimentation of ideas and skills and giving opportunity to young people to showcase their creativity and sharpen imagination under the guidance of renewed experts from, industry, arts and academia. In Seoul, DAW offered a summer internship program organized, which brought together over twenty Korean students from various disciplines and universities who actively contributed to the organization of events. Many students of Arts & Technology at Sogang University who were part of the DAW Summer Learning Program said that the experience earned during internship was an important step towards her professional career and a unique opportunity to learn about Switzerland, it’s culture, knowledge and talent.

Last but not least, DAW has recently published the Book of Interviews: On Arts, Science, Society which combines interviews with prominent individuals from art, science and society and offers an excellent glance at main areas of research that the Festival has been promoting over the last years. The publisher of the book, River Publication has offered to publish resulting publications for the coming years and will make such publications available worldwide in printed and digital form.

In review of the book, the media scholar Scott Taylor has written:

Creation is edification.  It is order out of chaos.  It is perpetually unique.  It is order crystalized at the bleeding edge.  It is pan-universal.  And, as this text most emphatically attests, its transdisciplinary measures, verbal and non-verbal, scientific and artistic, can be happily extended to all of humanity.

The urgent need to generate transdisciplinary means to safeguard and facilitate contemporary human creation is a fundamental notion of the art science initiative. The art science text in hand represents a call to artists, scientists and art scientists toward unification beyond simple disciplinary collision, collusion and compromise.


The support strategy that has been developed over the years has always included anelement of “swissness” to celebrate Switzerland within an international and multi-cultural context, in order effectively convey to a varied audience that Switzerland is an outward-looking country with a wealth of knowledge and one that is full of talented people, high-tech capabilities and creativity. The goal of conveying such a message is to leverage mutual synergies between participating parties and to explore their full potential in collaboration, bringing a high level of knowledge transfer, cultural exchange, and long-lasting partnerships between Switzerland and the host country.

We also believe that by using the proper agencies such as swissnex system for networking while receiving support from the diverse Swiss funding bodies (ETH, Pro Helvetia, Presence Switzerland) as well those from diverse countries (Canada, Japan, China, Finland, Germany, Great Britain etc) it is feasible to accomplish the task of promoting a modern image of Switzerland in terms of arts, the sciences, technology and education with an international context as a “roaming festival”.

The work done by DAW and the impact that it has had is to descripbe it as a process  continuely promote Switzerland by “connecting the dots” not only between science, art, education, innovations per se but also to “connect the dots” internationally between Switzerland and other countries, where Switzerland can benefit the most from the resulting synergies and move forward with promoting Switzerland as truly “modern” within an international and multi-cultural context that the festival has to offer.

Follow ups events directly stemming from the DAW have been one of the major benefits of having held the festival take place outside of Switzerland and such offerings are also proof that the festival has validity in its approach. In Summary, over the past years the festival has branded the image of Switzerland abroad by bringing together excellence from both Swiss science and the arts and has providing a an irreplaceable opportunity for international networking. The main goal of the festival has always been to initiate new partnerships resulting in the future collaborations which are implemented as an immediate and long term follow up initiatives.

Following this strategy, the DAW will continue to contribute to the image of Switzerland abroad, but will move its office to Seoul South Korea, where under patronage of both private public sponsors and in connection with researchers from Seoul National University will shift its focus to the life sciences and explore such fields as Bioinformatics, Neuromedia, and Scientific Visualization.

The Virtuale, the Off Label Event, and the Innovations Forum have branched off into independent events with their own funding and presentation cycles. The Virtuale continues in Lugano for 2016 and Zurich in 2017 and p Off Label Festival is in planning to take place in Taipei in the coming future as part of a community development project for the Guandu area, focusing on the processes of networking micro entrepreneurial business under the support of the ministry of labor. The Hybrid Highlights exhibition  joined forces with academic partners from South Korea and Shanghai China and gave birth to the BIO-ART Festival, which was held in Seoul and in Shanghai – an event that explores the richness of the life sciences and the arts with international program of artists and scientists supporting creativity and convergence between the arts and the sciences.

The Digital Art Weeks activities are documented on the web at the following URL:

The purchase of the book in print or digital for will be available at the following URL:


Arthur Clay, DAW Co-Founder & Director

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The Swiss Informatics Society SI is the association of Informatics professionals in Switzerland.

Die Schweizer Informatik Gesellschaft SI ist der Verband der Informatikfachleute in der Schweiz.

La Société Suisse d’Informatique SI est l’association des professionnels de l’informatique en Suisse.

La Società Svizzera di Informatica SI è l’associazione dei professionisti dell’informatica in Svizzera.