The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission has a strong interest in working with the arts as part of its multi-disciplinary support to EU policy making. The JRC intends to activate rapprochement between the arts and the sciences of the last decades in its daily practice.
To that end it established a project in art and science: SciArt.
SciArt investigates this growing movement and to map these changes on a philosophical, scientific and artistic level.
The flagship initiative of the project is the Resonances Festival, which brings together artists, scientists and policymakers around themes central to the JRC and the European Commission.
The festival aims at fostering awareness and stimulating new thinking/sensing at the border between science, art and society through the production of corelated works by artists, nurtured by the dialogues with scientists.
Resonances Festival 2019: Big Data Concept
The upcoming 2019 edition “Resonances III” focuses on Big Data: the challenges of generating, storing, sharing, selling, analysing, using, misusing, hacking, etc., large data sets of all kinds.
What is this phenomenon of Big Data, what are its known strengths and hidden sources? Where and how are Big Data transforming our society, our lives and even our very self for the better and the worse? Who are we going to be in the future when Big Data have enabled scientists, engineers, doctors, experts to transform our societies, our commons, our bodies, our work, our relations, our environment, the very fundaments of our lives and ourselves?
The concept of Big Data will be elaborated as a collection of various strands, a rich node in a net/work of probabilities. We see Big Data as a multi-dimensional space shot through with rich imaginary lodes of science and bias, art and society, a lab of unexpected recombinations and serendipities where algorithms, in an epistemological twist, uncover small patterns, which need at once concepts and tools that are brand new or still need to be invented, and an intervention by human intuition and culture.
We want to tackle this huge subject from the angle of identity. What do Big Data do to our sense of Self and consciousness? How do they change our relationship with humans and non/humans, with society and nature? Will our Self be extended and enriched by what has been dubbed a coming tsunami, or will it be swept away and buffeted by incommensurable waves?
We want to question Big Data and the changing world wherein we will find ourselves changing too, as scientists, artists, policymakers. But also as inhabitants of city, region, country, union, world, or again as persons, subjects, citizens, actants, migrants, aliens. Is it not time that we work, collectively, on a cultural approach to Big Data?
The world cannot be understood only by crunching numbers. We need to interpret it, and explore its new horizons. A new alphabet of images is arising out of the terabytes of data exchanged each minute.
The much-discussed ‘end of work’ also indicates the ‘end of the artwork’ – so we wonder how the loss of compartmentalisation will translate into new forms of collaboration, in a new concept of a reinvigorated concept of work: opera. Will we work in leisure? Will our work finally embody also the other work we do – our efforts to understand and grow, and be together, with humans, non/humans, including pods, bots and robots?
These and other questions merit an approach where art can meet science can meet policy can meet society to investigate. Collectively. And maybe create something. Something new.
Resonances Summer School – Festival
The JRC will organise a Resonances summer school in Ispra, Italy, on 25 to 29 June 2018. Loosely divided between:
• a theoretical part in the first two days, 25 and 26 June; and
• a workshop putting together artists, scientists and policy makers in the last three days, from 27 to 29 June.
Artists will be invited to participate to the workshop, with the possibility to attend the theoretical part. The workshop gives the occasion to exchange ideas with scientists. Participants will be asked to prepare a short presentation of their own work.
After the workshop, participants will be asked to write a report on their experience. On the strength of the dialogues established with the scientists during the workshop, artists are then invited, in all freedom, to conceive a work inspired by JRC science.
We are looking for artists working at the intersection between art and the sciences, with a proven capacity to integrate scientific elements into their own artistic practice. Artists, artist duos, creative professionals and educational projects open to collaboration with scientists and scientific projects are welcome to submit their portfolio.
The portfolio will be judged on the six selection criteria below, by the Resonances Festival curatorial team and a Board of art experts.
The Board consists of eminent art professionals: Peter Weibel, CEO of the ZKM in Karlsruhe; Michael John Gorman, founding director of the Biotopia in Munich; Ariane Koek, art consultant who set up the Arts@CERN programme; Mariele Neudecker, independent artist; and Paul Dujardin, director of the Bozar in Brussels.
The curatorial team developing the concept is headed by Freddy Paul Grunert, long-time curator in the field of art and science and associate curator of the ZKM.
A maximum of 30 successful candidates will be invited to participate to the SciArt Workshop during the Summer School.
Artists’ selection for the summer school will be done according to the six criteria below, on the basis of proven experience with SciArt – working on the border of art and science – and their portfolio.
Successful applicants and JRC scientists will exchange ideas with the objective of jointly creating an artistic installation nurtured by science, linked to the theme of Big Data (relevant scientific areas at JRC cover the natural sciences, social and economic sciences and ethics in support of EU policy making).
As such, the summer school is to be considered a running experiment on the fruitful collaboration between scientists’ and artists’ different bodies of knowledge, to pass through the borders between these disciplines and create works of art that are truly shared, whether in conception, elaboration and/or finishing.
After the summer school the invited artists will be asked to write a report on their experiences and to submit one or more proposals in collaboration with JRC scientists. The proposals are going to be judged according to the criteria detailed in the following paragraph, applicable on the participation to the School as well as on the eventual proposals arising out of it. The selected proposals are going to be realised and included in the 2019 Resonances III Festival, to be held in the autumn of that year.
A selection committee consisting of the Resonances festival curatorial team and a board of art experts will choose among the proposals those that:
1. Express the greatest openness and capacity to incorporate contrasting ideas into the realizations;
2. Show novelty of ideas and unexpected viewpoints as a result of interactions between art and science;
3. Demonstrate their capacity to transfer scientific knowledge and insights into artistic work;
4. Incorporate the proposed theme ‘Big Data’ closely and in a surprising manner, in respect of the curatorial statement;
5. Or are able to incorporate societal relevance of Big Data into artistic works, engaging with the widest public possible, including children;
6. Are considered concrete and feasible with a cost that is compatible with the available budget.
The selection committee reserves the right to invite other artists based on their expertise on the topic, societal relevance and/or prowess in combining art and science.
Organisation and Venue
The summer school takes place at the JRC in Ispra, Italy, from Monday 25 June to Friday 29 June 2018. The SciArt workshop is held from Wednesday 27 to Friday 29 June.
Artists selected for the workshop are free to join also the initial days of the summer school (25 -26 June), that will gather experts in the field of Big Data and SciArt.
Selected artists will be invited to register as experts in the European Commission’s Expert Database (see http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/experts/index.html) and invited as experts to the workshop.
Works created in collaboration with JRC scientists will be subject of a subsequent individual contract. Production budget of each work is going to be assessed from case to case.
How to apply for the Summer School
All applications should be sent to JRC-Resonances@ec.europa.eu no later than 15th April 2018.
Selected artists will receive notice not later than 15th May 2018.
Applications should include:
- Biography (no more than 250 words)
- Motivation letter (no more than 500 words) focusing on points 1-6
- Portfolio in Acrobat PDF format. The portfolio should include links to existing websites, catalogues, museum sites, gallery sites, video sites. The combined attachments cannot exceed 10 MB, but all documents can refer to existing websites detailing biography or work.
If you have further questions, please contact JRC-Resonances@ec.europa.eu.
The whole call can also be found here: