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Participatory Practices in Art & Science

In May 2014, Subtle Technologies will be holding its 17th annual festival in Toronto. Our symposium, performances, workshops, screenings, exhibitions and networking sessions provide a forum to explore ideas and pose questions at the intersection of art, science and technology. Subtle Technologies is known internationally for presenting artists and scientists whose work is at the leading edge of their respective disciplines and creating a space for dialogue that leads to future discussions and collaborations.

Our theme for 2014 is “Open Culture”. The festival will celebrate the ways artists and scientists are creating and making use of tools and techniques to harness the collective power, knowledge and creativity of the citizen. Bringing together artists and scientists who are working in these domains will open streams of dialogue leading to increased collaboration between artists and scientists who are interested in contributions of an engaged public. We are currently accepting submissions by artists, curators and scientists on the ideas presented below as well as others that fall under the umbrella of participatory culture.

One of the topics we would like to explore is citizen science. There are numerous current examples, such as “SETI at Home”, EyeWire, Galaxy Zoo and foldit. These projects allow the public to contribute to large online science endeavours. Citizen science projects are not without controversy. The recently announced project uBiome is a crowd-sourced project that invites volunteers to have the makeup of microbes on their body analyzed. They are facing a large outcry from ethicists on the ethics and privacy issues that their project to date hasn’t addressed. We welcome submissions that explore the role of citizen science, benefits, pitfalls, mechanisms, philosophy and ethics surrounding non-scientists involved in scientific research.

Another related movement in contemporary science is open science. This concept suggests that scientists share their data as quickly as possible, allowing others to benefit from and make use of their research. “Open notebook science” implies the dissemination of both raw and processed scientific data as it is captured. We would like to invite practitioners, advocates and critics of open science to contribute submissions to our festival.

The festival will also explore the ways artists invoke participatory culture in the creation of tools and artworks. Media artists have fully engaged in the networked world and are making use of mobile networks and ubiquitous computing in their artworks. These technologies allow for real time interaction and data collection. With the recent movement towards Open Data in cities, artists are finding a wealth of data sets generated by citizens to create art that explores the ebb and flow of the city through the visualization and sonification of that data. Media artists drive a number of open source projects that harness the collective knowledge of others to develop powerful open source creative tools such as Pure Data, Processing and Dynebolic. These tools and others have become the “Swiss Army Knives” of contemporary media artists. The recent rise of popularity in hacker spaces and maker communities see the fusion of artists, technologists and scientists coming together to co-operatively create projects which straddle the art/science/technology boundaries. We would like to present some of these projects as well as discuss the DIY movement in general terms as it relates to art and science. Crowdsourcing has become an integral element in the recent rise of participatory culture. We are seeking submissions that discuss this and other creative approaches to empowering individuals and collectives to realize their goals.

We are interested in these and other interpretations of our theme across disciplines and cultures. Our 2014 festival will explore open culture and participatory practices through exhibitions, workshops, panels, screenings, a symposium and poster session. All selected participants will be paid a small honorarium for their participation, however please note that we are usually unable to provide travel expenses.

Before submitting your proposal, please take a look at the archives on our website to get a sense of our previous programming. We encourage you to state clearly how your submission relates to our theme and festival, and to be as precise as possible in your project description, especially on the following points:

  • Symposium presentations: please submit in clear terms the subject matter you would like to cover in your talk. Presentations are typically between 20 to 45 minutes.
  • Curatorial ideas: please submit a curatorial statement with a list of artists whenever possible.
  • Workshop ideas: please include the number of participants the workshop is geared towards as well as space and technical requirements.
  • Exhibitions: please outline basic space and technical requirements.
  • Performances: please outline basic space and technical requirements.

This call for proposal is free to enter and must be submitted via our dedicated online form.

For any questions, please contact Fanny Martin, General Manager, at fanny @ subtletechnologies.com.

We look forward to your submission and hope to see you in Toronto in the spring of 2014.

 
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