A group of people in a darkened room, illuminated by blue and pink filters.

Image by Chelsey Cliff. 

Posted by:

Victoria Tillotson Talent Development Lead

on Tue 23 Jan

Introducing our Winter Residency Artists 2024

Posted on Tue 23 Jan

Following an open call for our Winter Residencies programme we’re excited to introduce our two recipient artists. Responding to the theme of Other Minds their work will harness forest intelligence - the understanding that forest ecosystems, like societies, are maintained by communication and a collective intelligence - and give voice to domestic machines.

Watershed’s annual Winter Residencies programme is an opportunity for artists to develop incredible ideas at the Pervasive Media Studio, Watershed’s creative technologies research space.

This year we sought work exploring intelligences that are different to human intelligence: animals, machines, or something stranger.

We asked questions such as: What does it mean to live in a world filled with different forms of thought? How can we create an idea of humanness within computer networks, beehives, or forests, while still maintaining our essential humanity? And how can we use ideas like "artificial intelligence" to expand our understanding of the world, rather than creating new ways to exploit it? These are the kinds of questions we are thinking about, and we invited artists to bring their own.

Victoria Tillotson, Watershed’s Talent Development Lead, says:

“Artificially intelligent (AI) tools have exploded into the mainstream evoking concern and excitement as people grapple with their potential. But AI is just one of multiple forms of intelligence that exist in the world. By supporting artists at this time to explore intelligence and what it means to have a voice, we hope to kickstart the making of artworks that expand understanding of the world and consider what a truly interconnected future could look like.”

Meet the artists:

Elinor Lower is a Bristol-based writer, theatre-maker and participatory artist interested in how we are hyper-individualised as workers, citizens and humans. Elinor will develop we meet in the woods, a place-based multiplayer theatrical game exploring forest intelligence and the ways in which tactile technology such as vibration or sensors embedded in the landscape can make collaboration irresistible, and remind us of the parts of ourselves we have forgotten.

Elinor says:

“The idea stems from questions I’ve been needling at, about how we might create spaces for collective imagining/decision-making, weave ourselves back into natural spaces and become more porous to more-than-human intelligences. And crucially: how we might do this through stories, games, in ways that are ridiculous, active, fun. I hope to write some fictions, bodge some tactile technologies and invite people to come do some weird stuff together in the woods.”

Dave Evans is an artist based in Liverpool who builds networked artworks that explore how things such as people, places and technologies are connected together. Dave has significant caring responsibilities that require him to spend a lot of time in the home. Whilst there, Dave noticed a design ‘feature’ of domestic objects is to be quiet and unobtrusive, contributing to socio-cultural conventions that domestic work and, by extension, caregiving should be quiet, and the people (traditionally women) and things associated with it should make as little sound as possible. Dave is interested in pushing back against these social cultural frameworks to explore how traditionally quiet or silent assemblages of domestic devices can be ‘given voice’ and allowed to ‘speak’ beyond the home.

Dave says:

“I’m excited to come to the Pervasive Media Studio for the Winter Residency at Watershed as it will give me a chance to develop my work using mics and sensors to make live audio broadcasts of the sounds of my home. Up to now these broadcasts have used the language of radio, but I’m keen to consider how the technical assemblages that generate and share these sounds can be reframed as speculative vocal systems. Working from home can be quite isolating so the residency at Watershed will give me a valuable opportunity to exchange ideas with a community of makers, some time to research different models of vocal systems and experiment with translating them into new technical assemblages.”

The two residencies will run from February to March 2024. The artists will receive financial, critical and technical support from Watershed and will share their progress via blogs on our Pervasive Media Studio website. We’re also planning to host a free public showcase event towards the end of March. More details coming soon.

We recruited for this years’ Winter Residency programme using a process of partial random selection. If you would like to know more about this process, in collaboration with Jerwood Arts we have published a random selection how-to guide.

Watershed’s Winter Residencies are made possible with the support of Arts Council England and MyWorld.

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