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“What are the ideals we should be striving for within democracy and how do we elevate the needs of the many when digital tools are invented by the few?” —Roderick Schrock, Eyebeam

Panteha Abareshi, still from METHODS OF CARE FOR THE PRECARIOUS BODY, (2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Brooklyn, NY, October 28, 2021


Brent Foster Jones
(917) 280-6217

Eyebeam, now an online/offline catalyst and incubator, announced today it has handed over authority of its flagship digital residency to artists for the next three years, following the selection of an initial cohort who will create a dynamic, evolving blueprint and strategy to unlock artist-led invention in the areas of self-governance, technology, and democracy. A total of 75 artists will receive $1.5 million as part of The Democracy Machine, a radical, ambitious cycle of trans-disciplinary art and activism guided by artists. For impact, the cycle will be complemented by a new coalition of organizations invested in unleashing the positive potentials of emerging technologies through art and activism, such as the Center for Artistic Activism and Data & Society. The announcement follows Eyebeam’s decision earlier this year to shed its physical residency, de-center its authority, and operate in a distributed, digital first format that emphasizes network and community building and social justice; this fall Eyebeam will launch an experimental online space to present the work of the cohort and host a wide range of presentations and programs, ‘Open. Eyebeam.’ The space will also be a key into new possibilities for hybrid digital and in-person gatherings through future iterations. The Democracy Machine is currently funded with new investments of $1.1 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Ford Foundation, among others.

“Can democracy exist and what does it look like?” said Roderick Schrock, executive director of Eyebeam and a curator. In 2020, he and the staff of Eyebeam launched an initiative to fund artists working towards a more equitable and humane digital realm, Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future. “That question,” he said, “is the starting point and modus operandi of The Democracy Machine, a harnessing of the power of art to help societies combat technologically-fueled populist ideologies. It is our belief that artist-created space for imagination and contemplation, allowing for public engagement with the complexities of our time, is a necessary, partial antidote.”

“Inherent to The Democracy Machine is an extraordinary new model of artists guiding and championing other artists,” said Elizabeth Alexander, President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “We’re thrilled to support this inventive approach to artistic self-governance and democracy, and we look forward to seeing what the initial cohort of artists creates.”

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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