Democracy Machine Phase 2 Press Release
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“In 2021, we handed the keys of our flagship fellowship over to artists. More than a year later, this multi-year radical experiment continues to yield a remixing, a reframing, of how technology must be made with new social values.”
∙Roderick Schrock, Eyebeam
Eyebeam announces newest artist cohort of The Democracy Machine
∙Radical, experimental artist-led cycle of transdisciplinary art and activism
∙A new, worldwide cohort supported by Ford Foundation and Mellon band together to join the movement to decolonize technology
Brooklyn, NY, February 15, 2023—
Eyebeam, that invests deeply in socially concerned artists, anywhere, and explores how humans should live in the future, today announced the newest and second cohort of The Democracy Machine, a radical experiment and ongoing cycle of transdisciplinary art and activism created to unlock artist-led invention in the areas of self-governance, technology, and democracy. A dozen artists, writers, and activists—pathbreaking, visionary individuals from nearly every continent in the world—were selected last year by the cycle’s inaugural cohort of Black, disabled, and Indigenous artists to participate in a lively eight month fellowship that began this winter. A diverse cohort, and possessing collectively an extraordinary range of art, writing, and social practices, has again taken over the reins of Eyebeam’s flagship fellowship and are together exploring issues from the movement to decolonize technology, to privacy and surveillance, to the challenging of dominant narratives. The initiative is funded by Ford Foundation and Mellon, among others.
“We must give artists a rich space to imagine and contemplate how humans should live in the future if we are to create a different and more humane relationship to technology,” said Roderick Schrock, executive director of Eyebeam. In a new Eyebeam film, Schrock remarked that the organization is building on a young, adventurous legacy to create a whole new way to support artists who are defining the future. “The new cohort hails from nearly every continent and have come together virtually to examine with us the relationship between humans, technology, and ethics and explore, as artists, social and cultural issues such as motherhood in the 21st century, sustainable technology, and healing and resistance within Black and Indigenous communities.”
“Ford is delighted to provide support for this groundbreaking artist-led initiative unlocking new ideas and challenging dominant narratives to create a more just and equitable world,” said Rocío Aranda-Alvarado, senior program officer for Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation. “With The Democracy Machine, Eyebeam continues to center artists who are interrogating democracy and creating space for equity in art and technology.”
The cycle takes place against an ongoing transformation at Eyebeam and builds on Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future, a fast moving initiative created early in the pandemic so that artists could come together and explore the dark frontier of power that commodifies personal information at the expense of democracy and freedom. Artists were invited to consider the call, “How do we begin to exit surveillance capitalism as the dominating form of digital life and what can replace it?”A subsequent festival of ideas and actions delved into pressing topics that affect everyone, from consensual coding to the gentrification of the internet, and launched artist made responses created during the pandemic on Open.Eyebeam that put power into the hands of people, from Rashaad Newsome’s Being 1.5, an app that delivers online mental health therapy to the Black community, to Dillon Sung’s landmark public archive of thousands of PRA (Public Records Act) documents received from the Los Angeles Police Department and the city of Los Angeles. The convening featured pioneers such as computer programmer Joan Greenbaum; curator, writer, and artist Legacy Russell; and new media artist and poet Shawné Michaelain Holloway.
The newest cohort of The Democracy Machine—a dozen artists, writers, and activists whose boundary dissolving practices push the confines of their mediums and demand more space and equity in society and culture, from the bolstering Black art history in Colombia to the “possibility” of an anticolonial gaze and spanning a diversity of locations, such as Colombia, India, Nepal, and Peru and in U.S., Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York City, —were chosen by the inaugural 2021/2022 cohort. Each 2022/2023 artist is receiving $20,000, combined with profound professional development opportunities and the camaraderie and mutual support of a residency.
Astrid González is a multidisciplinary artist whose studio practice encompasses video, photography, and sculpture surrounding her efforts to “bolster Black art history in Columbia.” Her work is informed by investigations into perceptions of the body. She explores Maroon peoples, the descendants of Africans in the Americas; and the whitening processes as the paradigm of progress in the Americas as a means of bringing oral traditions to the institution.
Zeina Baltagi is an artist, educator, and organizer raised between California and Lebanon. Her work reveals intimate transformations in relation to lived experiences with physical, emotional, economic, and cultural mobility. Interested in the “individual moving through space and on the ground,” the artist imagines “my endo- prosthetic titanium leg to be the most direct connection of material history to labor, access and mobility.” She is the co-director of Coaxial Arts Foundation and an adjunct teacher in beginning sculpture, printmaking and 2d design at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and Cypress College.
Ryan Christopher Clarke is a tonal geologist from the Northern Gulf Coast who “notices the passage of time” as both a trained sedimentologist and artist-researcher. As co-editor at dweller electronics, a group dedicated towards “providing afrologic counterpoint within an otherwise eurologically dominant music industry.”, he’s interested in how land and music communicate with one other. He is a member of the American Geosciences Union, a co-recipient of the Allied Media Critical Minded Grant, and is currently studying ethnomusicology at Tulane University in his hometown of New Orleans, LA.
Subash Thebe Limbu is a Yakthung (Limbu) artist from eastern Nepal “quantumly” based in Newa Nation (Kathmandu) and London. His practice spans sound, film, music, performance, painting, and podcasting. The artist’s works are inspired by socio-political issues, resistance and science/speculative fiction—migration, climate change, and indigeneity or “Adivasi Futurism” as he calls it, are recurring themes in his works. He sees himself as providing a platform to explain what is going on with his people.
Yogesh Maitreya (pictured) is a poet, translator, essayist, and a publisher at Panther’s Paw Publication, which takes its name from the anti-caste resistance group Dalit Panthers. He is a Ph.D. scholar at Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, the Center for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies, where he is at work on a history of anti-caste music in the state of Maharashtra. His books “are the blueprint of his existence in this vast world.”
Daniela Ortiz (pictured above) is an artist and mother who works in ceramics, collage, and children’s books, with the intention of creating “distance from Eurocentric conceptual art aesthetics.” Her practice aims to generate visual narratives in which the concepts of nationality, racialization, social class, and genre are explored in order to critically understand structures of colonial, patriarchal, and capitalist power.
Paula Baeza Pailamilla is a Mapuche artist and a member of the Mapuche collective Rangiñtulewfü and Yene Revista, which deeply informs their work in performance, textile practices, and audiovisual formats. Their practice includes “positioning the territory of the body as a place of visibility of a struggle, a conflict, a discomfort” and art actions that create juxtapositions between gender, race and class from “the possibility of an anticolonial gaze.”
Elizabeth Pérez is a mother, multidisciplinary designer, and educator interested in the confluence of motherhood, world-building, and the possibilities of design. She has taught at Parsons School of Design and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in New York where she received her graduate degree.
Shawn Reilly is a Nashville-based learner, educator, designer and cultural organizer interested in the power of art, place, space, history, and technology as means of developing youth sociopolitical consciousness in informal education settings. Their recent work centers on the exploration and co-creation of physical and digital maps as a way to challenge dominant narratives and democratize history. Their art and organizing pays particular attention to the implications of democracy in relation to the school to prison nexus, queerness in the South, Christian supremacy, joy/pleasure, and historical and contemporary systems of mutual aid.
Peter Wu+ is a Los Angeles-based artist whose practice is characterized by a keen engagement with the role of technology in shaping our perceptions of reality, identity, and history. Utilizing modeling and rendering software, 3D printing, projection mapping, and machine learning, Wu+ creates thought-provoking artworks and immersive environments that address the complexities of our technologically-driven society. In 2020, Wu+ founded EPOCH, an artist-run virtual exhibition space that serves as a platform for showcasing and disseminating contemporary digital art practices. With a focus on community building and inclusivity, EPOCH represents a significant contribution to the field of contemporary art and its engagement with digital technologies. Wu+ has been invited to speak about his practice at leading art institutions, including Art Center College of Design, USC Roski School of Art and Design, Christie’s LA, and Frieze Art Fair.
cy x (pictured) is a queer agender love influencer, earth tender, and cyber witch “holding hands with past, present, and future as we traverse through portals that break capitalistic enclosures.” They are grounded in: Black and Indigenous feminism, queer mysticism, trans shapeshifting, sex magic, abolition, and “more-than human collaboration.” They are also the founder of pleasure ceremony, an eco-erotic embodied research, care work and collaborative ceremonial practice and co-founder of Synth Library NYC.
Nushin Yazdani (Berlin, Germany & Vienna, Austria) is a transformation designer, artist, and AI design researcher. She works at the intersection of machine learning, design justice, and intersectional feminist practices and writes about the systems of oppression of the present and the possibilities of just and free futures. A Landecker Democracy Fellow, selected as 2021’s top 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics, and a member of the Advancing Data Justice advisory board at the Alan Turing Institute, Nushin is the co-founder of the AI research, advocacy, and art platform Dreaming Beyond AI and part of the collective dgtl fmnsm.
In late March, Eyebeam will introduce the newest cohort of The Democracy Machine over a series of free and online public conversations. A schedule will be announced @eyebeamnyc on Instagram and Twitter.
Eyebeam is an incubator and catalyst. Known for providing time, tools, and space at its flagship residency, a new chapter has begun. Eyebeam has shed its physical space and transformed into a world builder focused on how humanity should live in the future and the relationship between humans, technology, and ethics. A totally new Eyebeam now invests deeply in socially concerned artists—anywhere. The organization is active worldwide and with a special focus via its global journalism and art activities in the United States, United Kingdom, India, and Brazil. Eyebeam is always on and online/offline: platforming the proposals and work of artists who work with technology on eyebeam.org and gathering together digitally and in person. Building on a young, adventurous legacy, Eyebeam creates space for imagination for understanding the enormous complexities confronting all of us.
Note to editors: Interviews with the artists, and related artwork and imagery, are available by
contacting [email protected]