University at Buffalo
Department of


Art & Design

Art History

Visual Studies

Professor Paul Vanouse Receives Award of Distinction at the Prix Ars Electronica

May 23, 2017  by: Natalie Fleming


The America Project, by Paul Vanouse, UB Professor of Art and Director of the Coalesce Center for Biological Art, has received an Award of Distinction at the Prix Ars Electronica, in Linz, Austria. Furthermore, Coalesce artists-in-residence Byron Rich (UB MFA 2015) and Mary Maggic Tsang have received an honorary mention for their Open Source Estrogen project. Ars Electronica is the premiere CyberArts festival and competition in the world.

Art, technology, society. Since 1979, Ars Electronica has sought out interlinkages and congruities, causes and effects. The ideas circulating here are innovative, radical, eccentric in the best sense of that term. They influence our everyday life—our lifestyle, our way of life, every single day.

The America Project / Paul Vanouse (US)

“Vanouse produces the very icon of the melting pot, the US Flag, as the result of a live scientific experiment (…)“ (Statement der Jury)

At the heart of the bio-art installation the America Project is the idea of a shared identity or a feeling of cohesiveness that was once a part of the utopia of America in which the hard living conditions in rural areas tended to even out social differences and were thus conducive to equal rights for all. Installation visitors are requested to rinse their mouth with a saline solution and then to spit it out into a spittoon that thus comingles hundreds of people’s DNA. The DNA of all these people is neither individualized nor stored; it is processed as a mix. By means of so-called DNA fingerprinting, Paul Vanouse uses this material to develop iconic images of power such as crowns, fighter jets and flags that are visualized as live video projections.

3,677 entries were submitted from 106 countries for 2017 Prix Ars Electronica prize consideration, awarding four Golden Nica’s and eight Awards of Distinction. The Computer Animation/Film/VFX category led the way (1,157 entries), followed by Hybrid Art (1,063), Digital Musics (792) and u19 – CREATE YOUR WORLD (665). The awards will be bestowed upon the prizewinners at the Ars Electronica Gala on September 8, 2017 in Linz’s Brucknerhaus.

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