For the first Phase, Eyebeam worked with an international nomination and selection committee of curators, technologists, writers, and social justice workers to identify a cohort of five artists. Recognizing the systemic inequities both within and perpetuated by fields of technology, the nomination process sought to prioritize Black, Disabled, and Indigenous artists and inventors within the first cohort. This group will be integral to creating a dynamic, evolving blueprint and strategy that guides future artists’ cohorts in Phase Two and beyond. These artists represent a wide range of artistic approaches, methodology, and geographic locations, but are united in their dedication to the potential of collective practice to explore new forms of self-governance and democracy.
Panteha Abareshi is a chronically ill, disabled artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. Their trans-disciplinary practice spanning sculpture, video, and performance explores accessibility in abstract, radical terms and is informed by debilitating pain, bodily deterioration, and their own experiences of marginalization, erasure, and violence “lost on the average able-bodied individual.”
Neta Bomani is a Brooklyn-based teacher, computer programmer, Black feminist scholar, zine maker, and abolitionist whose work questions the notion of freedom. Her anti-art practice is informed by her interest in “parsing information and histories while making things by hand with human and non-human computers.” She makes work for an intergenerational audience of Black people who are “engaged in thinking more critically about their Blackness” in order to engage them in a “conversation about technology and how socio-technological phenomena mediate our subjective experiences as Black people.”
Sebastián Calfuqueo is a Mapuche artist and activist and part of the Mapuche collective Rangiñtulewfü and Yene Revista whose work in installation, ceramic, performance, and video investigates race, gender, and social class. Their art practice proposes a decolonial view and a critical reflection of the social, cultural, and political status of the Mapuche subject in contemporary Chilean society and Latin America.
Marton Robinson is a nomadic artist and activist whose work explores the Afro-Latino experience and challenges the conventions of blackness in art history, mainstream culture, and “the official national narratives” particularly in Costa Rica. The artist is interested in the idea of home and its construct.
DeLesslin “Roo” George-Warren is a citizen of the Catawba Nation, an artist, performer, and researcher interested in conflict, colonialism, democracy, and indigenous futures. The artist engages their tribal community on issues such as language revitalization and food sovereignty and collaborates to “transform existing scripts and reweave them into a more resilient, more sovereign Catawba Nation.” The “strands” of their practice come together in yękαpįsαwačαre, “which implies both making art and helping someone else develop skills.”
Earlier this month, Eyebeam launched The Democracy Machine: Artists and Self-Governance in the Digital Age, a multi-year, digital-first initiative supporting artists, technologists, and writers in dialogue with policy and activism. The program is guided by the central prompt “Can democracy exist and what does it look like?” and will produce a range of creative responses and public outputs to engage Eyebeam’s broader community.
Existing at the core of The Democracy Machine is Fractal Fellowships—a radically reimagined iteration of Eyebeam’s flagship residency that fully hands over authority to artist cohorts. Cohorts will collectively create new systems for artist support and resource distribution, shifting the dynamic from institutions to the artists themselves. Our initial cohort will work collectively over the course of eight months to create a dynamic, evolving blueprint and strategy to unlock artist-led invention in the areas of self-governance, technology, and democracy.
The initial group of artists will work together to develop the thematic focus and selection criteria of the next cohort of artists, and will also work with Eyebeam’s team, program partners, and advisors to provide guidance throughout the process. This will continue for four phases, over several years. Throughout, Eyebeam will act as administrative support and will provide full fellowship resources for all participating artists, including robust professional development, generous financial stipends, and access to mentorship, tools, and exhibition opportunities.
By the end of the program, Eyebeam aims to support up to 75 artists by distributing significant funds, resources, and public recognition.
To help support the Phase 1 Fractal Fellowships process, Eyebeam has brought on a Program Advisor, Adela C. Licona, founder of the Art of Change Agency, to work closely with the cohort, first to help to arrive at an understanding of shared language, values, and working agreements. As the fellowship progresses beyond the initial stage, the Program Advisor will provide ongoing support by conducting group and one-on-one meetings with the artists, assisting in the documentation of the evolution of the first phase, and supporting the group in the process of visioning, articulating, and creating a plan to execute their shared goals.
Amelia Winger-Bearskin, Banks Preeminence Chair, Associate Professor of AI and the Arts: Digital Arts and Sciences at University of Florida, Innovator at U.S. Department of Art and Culture: Honor Native Land
Ayodamola Tanimowo Okunseinde, Assistant Professor of Interaction and Media Design, Parsons School of Design
Claudia Peña, Executive Director, For Freedoms
Dr. Kevin Gotkin, Access Ecologist + Organizer
Miguel A. López, Writer, Researcher and Curator
Nora Khan, Writer, Editor, Curator, and 2021 Momus Critical Writing Fellowship Mentor
Regine Gilbert, Industry Assistant Professor, NYU Tandon School of Engineering
farid rakun, Artist, writer, and member of ruangrupa, artistic directors of documenta fifteen
Dr. Syrus Marcus Ware, Assistant Professor, McMaster University, Artist and Activist
Dr. Tina Rivers Ryan, Assistant Curator, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Walei Sabry, Digital Accessibility Coordinator, NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
In an effort to broaden the impact of the work that will unfold throughout The Democracy Machine, Eyebeam is building an expansive network of organizations and field leaders who are invested in privacy and technology, AI and inherent bias, journalism, and emerging digital media, along with arts and activism.
The Center for Artistic Activism, Through innovative research and providing free resources the Center for Artistic Activism has helped build, sustain, and develop the field of artistic activism.
THE CITY nonprofit, nonpartisan, digital news platform dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York, producing consistent, high-quality and high-impact accountability reporting.
Data & Society is an independent nonprofit research organization that convenes researchers, policymakers, technologists, journalists, entrepreneurs, artists, and lawyers to challenge the power and purpose of technology in society.
La Becque | Residency (Switzerland) hosts and fosters the creativity of artists of all backgrounds and disciplines.
Momus is an international online art publication and podcast committed to reading our cultural text more deeply, and dedicated to the vital, uphill work of art criticism in a critical time.
370J Project is an innovation hub for engineering, applied science, urban science, digital technology, and digital media arts.
For Phase One, Eyebeam is partnering with Momus, an international online art publication and podcast, to support a paid Critical Writing Fellowship. The Fellowship will provide sustained mentorship, editing, art-publishing access, and artist/writer/editor network building to an early-career art writer or critic. The Critical Writing Fellow will engage with and respond to Eyebeam’s inaugural phase of its new Fractal Fellowship program, from October 2021 – May 2022.
Attended by a close and sustained mentorship with writer and critic Nora N. Khan, and overseen by the Momus editorial team, this period of research, dialogue, and drafting will result in the Fellow producing a feature-length text in addition to other shorter-form pieces produced throughout. The Critical Writing Fellow will also play an important role in the documentation of Eyebeam’s Fractal Fellowships Phase One, and will work with the cohort and Eyebeam team on producing text that will serve to illuminate the process, shared learnings, and outcomes generated by the artists’ collective work together. The inaugural year of the Critical Writing Fellowship was highly competitive, demonstrating the growing desire for sustained mentorship in art publishing.
The 2021-22 Critical Writing Fellow has been awarded to Arushi Vats, a New Delhi-based arts, literary, and culture writer. Vats astounded us with the clarity of her vision, the strength of her early publishing experience (including platforms such as MARCH: a journal of art & strategy, Alternative South Asia Photography, The Karachi Collective, and Critical Collective, among others), and the depth of her resonance with mentor Nora N. Khan. Vats discusses her ambition to write on art “as a site for both lyrical affinities and radical challenges.” In addition to publishing in cultural venues including LSE International History and Write | Art | Connect, Vats has published short stories and poetry in The Gulmohar Quarterly, Hakara Journal, and PIX Quarterly. She has also authored several curatorial essays, including a volume titled The Constitution of India at 70: Celebrate, Illuminate, Rejuvenate, Defend, published by Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust in 2021.
For more about Arushi and to read some of her writing, please visit: https://www.arushivats.com/
Through advocacy, membership, and donations, Eyebeam maintains programming and brings ideas into actionable projects. We gratefully acknowledge the leadership and support of The Andrew Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, Atlantic Foundation, and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.