STARTS.EE art+science residency "How to wear sensations?" Call for participation

STARTS.EE is an umbrella initiative promoting encounters between science, technology and the arts, for the benefit of society. ​The goal of the initiative is to open up Tallinn University research and development activities to the outer world​, strengthening its abilities and increasing societal and cultural impact.

Residencies, organised in collaboration with STARTS.EU and e⁻lektron, aim at kickstarting artistic and scientific or technological collaborations that lead to transdisciplinary novel ideas that enrich the existing practices of both domains.

A residency is a form of collaboration where an artist and a researcher or technologist can work together on interesting phenomena, led by curiosity and inspired by the exchanges that transcend the boundaries of the two domains. Art and science both have the ability to proceed to the unknown and make use of experimental approaches. There are however also disjointed or even opposite aspects that distinguish them: generality vs. singularity, rationality vs. sensitivity, or personal vs. public. These similarities and differences are more and more recognized as complementary assets in collaborative processes that spark creativity and lay foundations for more inclusive discussions on societal level. Everything can be understood through art but that understanding is incomplete. Everything can be understood through science but that understanding is incomplete. The residency provides a platform for collaboration that enables us to achieve a more complete and universal understanding of things.

The topic for the residency is Wearables for Biofeedback, proposed by the HCI research group in Tallinn University School of Digital Technologies, who will be hosting the collaboration project.

In novel smart applications, multisensory feedback can be applied to the user body to inform them about their own or other person's emotional state. In this residency, we invite an artist and a scientist/technologist to experiment with (1) analysis and processing of biological markers such as heart rate variability or electrodermal activity, and (2) mapping of resulting biological patterns onto multisensory (tactile or auditory-tactile) patterns to be delivered via wearables like bracelets or vibrating clothing in artistic scenarios. The example scenarios may include but are not limited to raised self-awareness (e.g., CogoNovo or Magic lining projects), tele-empathy or other collective engagement experiences (e.g., elektron.live).

We are looking for a scientist/technologist and an artist to collaborate on the topic of wearables for biofeedback. The applicants are expected to apply for the residency position individually. The selected applicants will later form a two-person team working together to explore the proposed topic.

What do we expect?

Availability. Your time and motivation to collaborate with an assigned residency partner on the proposed topic. The expected workload of the resident is ~160 h (i.e. equal to one month full time work). That workload can be stretched over a three month period (i.e. maximum duration), starting in August or first half of September 2020. The residents are expected to be physically present in Tallinn for the collaboration period and work face to face in the university premises, if it is considered safe regarding the ongoing public health crisis.

Curiosity to explore the proposed topic on equal grounds with your residency partner, aiming for transdisciplinary collaboration where new knowledge is created for both participants.

Technical skills. From the researcher/technologist we expect technical skills such as signal processing knowledge, machine learning, and Python and Arduino-like programming. Basic level of technical skills will also benefit the artist applicant.

Documentation. The residency is a part of a research project and participants will be asked to provide regular feedback about the process for research purposes (in the format of diaries, interviews, workshops). The collaboration will also be documented for dissemination in (social)media (e.g. photos, videos, short interviews).

Outcome. The format of the outcome is up to the residents and will be determined in the collaboration process. It can, for example, be a conceptual prototype, an installation, or a performance. The residency ends with a public showing where the process and outcome of the collaboration is presented and discussed. The residents are expected to write a Medium post, to sum up, their residency experience and the phenomenon that they investigated.

What do we offer?

Budget. Residency salary of 1500€ (brutto) for both participants and an additional 500€ for materials, tools etc.

Space. Residents will be provided with a working space in the interaction design lab in Tallinn University campus.

Equipment. Residents will be able to use the equipment in different labs of Tallinn University, including materials for physical prototyping, a wide variety of sensors, software and hardware (more information: http://hci.tlu.ee/labs/).

Mentorship. The participants will be supported by a diverse team of experienced mentors, with backgrounds in physiological computing, neurofeedback and smart textile technologies as well as performing arts and design.

Toolkit for co-creation. The residency process will be supported by a customised set of co-creation techniques to facilitate creative collaboration. The toolkit will help participants to collaborate on equal grounds, working towards a shared vision.

How to apply

Send a motivation letter (up to 1 page A4) explaining your interest in the residency collaboration and a link to your artist portfolio or research track record/ CV by August 3rd (deadline extended), 2020 to hci@tlu.ee.

The selected participants will be announced by August 7. The residency is expected to start in August or mid-September (the latest). The exact timeline will be agreed with the participants, taking into account their availability.


Created with images by Ari He, Alexandre Debiève and Taavet Jansen.