Launched in response to the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, Rapid Response became Eyebeam’s inaugural fully-digital artist fellowship. Marking the beginning of a new kind of artist support at Eyebeam, the 9-month program supported 30 artists and collectives from across the globe with robust financial and professional support to first imagine and then take tangible steps toward building a better digital future.
In March 2020, the novel Coronavirus began its assault on communities across the nation. Forced to close its physical Bushwick offices, Eyebeam swiftly moved its programs online, including its annual Residency. As a result, we found ourselves needing to interrogate and reimagine what it meant to run an artist residency and public program when social interaction was prohibited. This was underscored by the swift shutdown of public services, widespread financial insecurity, politicization of public health recommendations, and a history-making outcry of protests across the world against racial violence imparted on Black people in America. We immediately engaged in conversations with our community, asking them, What do artists need right now? We consistently received the same feedback: Artists urgently need financial resources and a dedicated space for imagination and experimentation.
In collaboration with trusted advisors Eyebeam swiftly put forward an open call for Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future (RR). The selected awardees formed an active cohort of practitioners who were in regular communication, received expert consultation, and engaged in skill-sharing and group critiques — all facilitated online by Eyebeam.
When Phase I ended in October 2020, Eyebeam moved onto Phase II. For this portion of the fellowship, Eyebeam selected eight artists from the original cohort to receive an additional award of up to $25,000 each and deeper support with project management, critical feedback, and public visibility. At the end of both phases, Eyebeam hosted virtual public events that were free and open to the public that showcased the fellows’ projects and made space for dialogue.
Prof. Ute Meta Bauer
Founding Director, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore
Senior Managing Educator, Audience Development and Engagement at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Associate Editor, Art In America
Senior Curator, PaceX
Artist Engagement Manager, The Laundromat Project
Nora N. Khan
Partner and Director, Wkshps
Director, La Becque
Tara Aisha Willis
Associate Curator of Performance & Public Practice, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Co-Director / Associate Professor of Integrated Digital Media, NYU, Eyebeam Board
Co-Founder, Crux & co-CEO and Chief External
Relations Officer, Fractured Atlas
Public Art Manager, Times Square Arts
Meet the Rapid Response cohort of artists who worked re-tooling technology to circumvent surveillance capitalism for social change.
In Phase I, Eyebeam supported thirty fellows in researching and creating prototypes of their initial proposed concepts, which were selected by a jury for their potential to shape a more humane digital future. Artists participated in group critiques featuring invited guests including Amelia Winger-Bearskin (MIT, Stanford) and Mohammed Salemi, intimate workshops led by field leaders such as Kamal Sinclair (Guild of Future Architects) and nash sheard (Electronic Frontier Foundation), all while receiving in-depth project management support from Eyebeam.
Beginning in October 2020, Eyebeam segued into Phase II and invited eight artists/artist collectives from the original cohort based on their prototypes’ actionability to create real-world impact. The Phase II cohort was supported with additional funding, individualized professional development and mentorship, project documentation, and public visibility in support of fully realizing their projects. An essential aspect of the fellowship was to share the brilliant work of the artists within our community and beyond. At the culmination of the fellowship, the Phase II cohort were given the opportunity to launch their projects at Eyebeam’s From the Rupture multi-day festival to a global virtual audience of 2,000 while in conversation with field leaders such as Sasha Costanza-Chock (MIT), Aza Raskin (Center For Humane Technology), and Vincent Southerland (Bail Project).
Phase I artists hailing from nearly every continent, present their projects to build a more humane future during this dynamic weeklong showcase held in October.
Meet the artists making access to digital tools, their functionalities, and community care more equitable.
From providing computer vision tools for human rights researchers and investigative journalists to digital, insurrectionary, mutual aid, community financing, these artists are engaging and fortifying democracy.
Day 1 (October 5th, 2020)
Individual Autonomy, Borders, and Immigration
Hosted by Nora N. Khan, a critic and writer on emerging issues within digital visual culture and philosophy of emerging technology. This talk explored the interplay between digital systems and individual agency.
The Digital Prepper Toolkit (Sarah Grant, Rosa Menkman)
Dillon Sung in collaboration with Stop LAPD Spying Coalition
Juan Pablo García Soss (JPGS)
Day 2 (October 6th, 2020)
Engaging and Fortifying Democracy
Hosted by Marisa Mazria Katz, who is a journalist and the founder of the Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism and it’s former Senior Advisor. This talk addresses re-invigorating democratic engagement in a time of disinformation.
Day 3 (October 7th, 2020)
Increasing Accessibility in Online Platforms
Hosted by Jerron Herman, an interdisciplinary disabled artist creating through dance, text, and visual storytelling. Instilling equitable access to digital tools, their functionalities, and community care.
Song: New Song
Artist: Howard Jones
Album: Humans Lib
Writers: Howard Jones
[Merlin] Absolute Label Services (on behalf of Cherry Red Records); LatinAutorPerf, AMRA BR, LatinAutor, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc., Kobalt Music Publishing, AMRA, and 9 Music Rights Societies
Day 4 (October 8th, 2020)
Creating Space for Imagination
Hosted by Prem Krishnamurthy, who is a designer, curator, writer, and teacher based in Berlin and New York. Working with the potentials of things yet to be, artists are most capable of harnessing the imagination in order to make things appear; an act crucial to creative formulation of the future.
Beyond the Breakdown (Grace Lee, Lauren Lee McCarthy, Tony Patrick)
Volumetric Performance Toolbox (Valencia James with Thomas Wester, Ben Purdy, *Holly Newlands, Sorob Louie)
*Please note Thomas is Holly Newland’s previous name, the event was recorded before her transition.
Day 5 (October 9th, 2020)
Artificial and Natural Intelligence
Hosted by Brian Droitcour. As human decision-making is augmented, and in some cases replaced by algorithmic decision-trees designed by a relative few, artists are exploring the potentials and perils of machine learning when there are still possibilities for it to serve the public good, and not just the wealthy few.
During our four day festival, From the Rupture, Eyebeam unveiled the eight ambitious projects designed and launched by Phase II Rapid Response fellows, including Aladin Borioli (Apian), Dillon Sung in Collaboration with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition*, Juan Pablo García Sossa (JPGS)*, Solar Protocol (Tega Brain, Alex Nathanson, and Benedetta Piantella), Valencia James (Volumetric Performance Toolbox), Veil Machine in collaboration with Kink Out (Empress Wu, Cléo Ouyang, and Thea Luce), and Xin Xin.
Eyebeam welcomed over 2,000 audience members from across the globe to engage in timely inquiries and tactics from field leaders on topics ranging from consensual coding to Black mental therapy apps. The entire program has been archived and can be accessed on a specially-designed digital platform that is still active and available for the public to visit, explore, and watch an array of radical practitioners who span the fields of public policy, journalism, healthcare, and more, as they untangle important questions addressing society’s relationship to emerging technology.
Explore the From the Rupture Universe here.
Aza Raskin is the co-founder of Earth Species Project, an open-source nonprofit dedicated to translating animal communication. He is also the co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, was featured in the new documentary The Social Dilemma, and is the co-host for the popular podcast Your Undivided Attention. Additionally, he is the co-founder of MakeSpace. Trained as a mathematician and dark matter physicist, he has taken three companies from founding to acquisition, is a co-chairing member of the World Economic Forum’s Global AI Counsel, briefs heads of state, helped found Mozilla Labs, in addition to being named FastCompany’s Master of Design, and listed on Forbes and Inc Magazines 30-under-30
This talk was recorded on February 19, 2021, the third day of the festival celebrating Aladin Borioli (APIAN) and Valencia James (Volumetric Performance Toolbox) with talks by Aza Raskin, Kara Gilmour, LaJuné McMillan, conversations with Amelia Winger-Bearskin & Valencia James, Paige Mulhern, Shay Willette, & Aladin Borioli, and hosted by Lauren Ruffin.
Mutale Nkonde is an artificial intelligence policy analyst and founding CEO of AI for the People, a nonprofit creative agency that seeks to use journalism, television, music, and film to challenge the narratives around the assumed social neutrality of machine learning technologies. She is also the CEO and founder of Opps Management LLC, a management consulting agency that works with companies and nonprofits to help them reach their diversity and inclusion goals.
This talk was recorded on February 17, 2021, the first day of the festival celebrating Rashaad Newsome and Xin Xin with talks by Chancey Fleet, Cydney Brown, Joan Greenbaum, Mutale Nkonde, conversations with Dorothy Santos & Xin Xin, Legacy Russell & Rashaad Newsome, and hosted by Salome Asega.
Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future has been generously made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, and Jerome Foundation.
Eyebeam is grateful for the long-standing visionary support of the Atlantic Foundation and the New York Council on the Arts. We are pleased to also acknowledge the support of the Beatrice Snyder Foundation and The O’Grady Foundation. Thank you to all our donors who believe in our work.