Manu Luksch (AT/GB)

To The Magic Swan/ Kayak Libre (2011)

Kayak Libre: intervention in public space, mixed media installation To The Magic Swan / Kayak Libre: ready-made found at Lat 51.55 Long -0.029, 6th Nov 2011,  photography

Kayak Libre is temporary transport infrastructure and research vehicle – a water taxi service along urban canals, a floating island of free association. The fare is a conversation.

The kayak is a slow, sedate vessel that allows for contemplation, close observation, and connection with the rapidly changing physical environment of urban areas. The encounter on board is designed to be experiential for the passenger, and investigative for the piloting artist. As well as steering the vessel, the pilot directs the dialogues with passengers, encouraging discussion of ideas of progress and belonging, and eliciting radical visions for the rare slice of public space that the waterways provides. Specifically, the work interrogates an idea of progress rooted in speed, efficiency and connectivity, and how this relates to human desires for autonomy, mobility and community. Online, an interactive map features location-tagged excerpts from the conversations aboard the kayak, categorized by topic.

Kayak Libre was awarded the Marianne.von.Willemer Prize for Digital Arts 2012 by Ars Electronica Centre & City of Linz.

During one of the kayak taxi rides, a message-in-a-bottle was found in the River Lea. Addressed to the Magic Swan, it expressed desires ranging from the concrete to the fantastic, authored by unknown visionaries.


Manu Luksch is intermedia artist whose practice interrogates conceptions of progress through the instigation of processes, with a strong emphasis on research and and collaboration. She is founder of ambientTV.NET, a crucible for independent, interdisciplinary projects at the intersection of art, technology and social criticism.

In her works, Manu Luksch explores possible futures of infrastructures, the thresholds and constraints of public space, and the traces of data that accumulate in digital networked societies. Her work is included in the Collection de Centre Pompidou.




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