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Eyebeam sounds the call to address our global tech emergency

We are living in a global tech emergency: generative artificial intelligence is infiltrating our lives to the point of wresting control of our innately human, spiritual, mental, and physical ways of being; algorithms continuing to marginalize underrepresented communities. At Eyebeam, we feel there is an urgent need to build tangible alternatives that center care, community, and solidarity and make clear why the act of discovery and creation by artists is needed more than ever.

“Technology is transformative, but it is now forcing the world to reconsider the meaning of intelligence, free will, and personhood,” explained Roddy Schrock, Executive Director. “We are calling on artists to bring their innate mental, spiritual, and physical aspects of what it means to be human into play with technology in order to affirm humanity’s role as creators, not spectators, of our shared techno-future.”

Together with the current cohort of The Democracy Machine—our radical experiment that throws the reins of Eyebeam over to our artist fellows—we are launching an open call for  the next phase of the artist-led cycle of transdisciplinary art and activism created to unlock invention in self-governance, technology, and democracy. In a first ever move, we are announcing an open call from artists for artists by artists, “What Is Human About Technology?”

The open call can be found here.

Designed closely with our fellows, we are encouraging artists who work in developing technology that focuses on decolonization, reframing history, language, care, the digital divide, and the future of tech to apply for the third and final season of The Democracy Machine.

The open call will prioritize support for artists whose proposals promote equity and inclusion, facilitate collaboration and co-creation with historically marginalized communities, and promote the democratization of technological innovation and the development of technologies prioritizing human well-being and personal agency.

“Artists working at the complex intersection of art, tech, and community are uniquely positioned to address these challenges by launching projects that foster dialogue and engagement,” said Kemi Sijuwade-Ukadike, Eyebeam Head of Artist Initiatives and Inclusion, and “we invite proposals considering how to avert anti-human technologies and re-assume control to build a more humane future.”

Selected artists will receive a $20,000 hybrid fellowship to support the development and implementation of their projects; Eyebeam will select five non-New York-based artists from anywhere in the world and five New York City artists for a fellowship period that will run from January, 2024 through August, 2024. Artists will be provided with access to our network of peers, mentors, and experts in the field as well as to state-of-the-art partner facilities and resources.

Added Sijuwade-Ukadike: “We are especially interested in supporting those artists whose efforts consider the impact of technology on individuals and communities who face additional barriers to access and inclusion and those who center care, community, and solidarity in their practices.”

Roo a light-toned male with a flowery top and gray shorts, Seba, a medium-toned person in a pink and gray jumpsuit and Marton, a black man in all black shorts set, stand in front of a blue and black mural.

(Left to right) members of the first cohort of The Democracy Machine: DeLesslin “Roo” George-Warren, Seba Calfuqueo and Marton Robinson. Photo: Whitney Legge

Now in its third year, The Democracy Machine takes place against an ongoing transformation at Eyebeam and builds on Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future, an initiative launched during the pandemic as a place for artists to come together and explore the dark frontier of power that exploits personal information at the expense of democracy. We are building on the momentum of our fellows; and the energy we feel with the current cohort is palpable and was on display recently in a special series of live streams recently broadcast on open.eyebeam and available here.

The second current cohort, comprised of a dozen risk-taking artists, writers, and activists from nearly every continent in the world, were selected last year by an inaugural group of Black, disabled, and Indigenous artists to explore issues such as the movement to decolonize technology, rights to privacy and surveillance, and the demand for more space and equity in society and culture. Daniela Ortiz, (pictured), an artist and mother who lives and works in Urubamba, Peru recently told us, “Nobody would imagine that you get paid to have a space in which you can see the work and processes of other people. That dialogue is beautiful.”

Eyebeam models a new approach to artist-led creation for the public good; we are a non-profit that provides significant professional support and money to exceptional artists for the realization of important ideas that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nobody else is doing this.

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