We are delighted to announce an open call for our Patterns in Practice Artist Residency. We are looking for an artist who is interested in data mining and/or machine learning to develop artistic ideas and conversations. 

What is Patterns in Practice?

Patterns in Practice is a research project led by the University of Sheffield and the University of the West of England in partnership with Watershed, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project aims to enhance understanding of how human beliefs, values and feelings affect how we engage with data mining, the practice of analysing large databases in order to generate new information; and machine learning, computer systems that are able to learn and adapt without following explicit instructions, by using algorithms and statistical models to analyse and draw inferences from patterns in data.

Those working in drug discovery, higher education and the arts are regularly working with, and making decisions based on insight from computational systems. But this is not a neutral enterprise. When information, machine processes and people come together - data cultures and relations emerge which go out and do things in the world. They might effect what drugs get prescribed, what mark someone gets for their degree or how funding is directed.

After nearly three years talking to people in these fields – exploring ideas like technology hype, prediction, privacy, money flow and good judgement – the partners in this project have a wealth of insight and material. We are now inviting an artist of any discipline to delve in and respond to what they find.

Erinma Ochu, UWE Bristol’s Wallscourt Associate Professor of Immersive Media, says:

“As the automation of culture hits the headlines - eg the recent Hollywood writer and actor strikes - we are super excited to get an artist's take on the cultures in which machine learning is applied, and to offer a unique way for audience to experience that and provoke wider discussion on practices that often happen behind closed doors.”

Who are we looking for?

We are most interested in working with a mid-late career artist whose practice involves active audience engagement and/or participation. An artist who is willing to engage people in activities that spark feelings and conversations about data cultures, as part of the development of work. You don’t need to be an expert in data, AI or machine learning but should have an interest in the impact of technology on society. This is a fantastic opportunity to research and develop new or existing artistic ideas, meet incredible people, experiment, share and think.

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

“It is incredibly important that we understand how human emotions, values and beliefs can influence the computational systems that increasingly impact our daily lives. We hope this opportunity - for an artist to dig in and explore this notion - will open up timely conversations and support development of fascinating artwork.”

When and where will it take place?

The Residency will take place between mid-October 2023 to January 2024. It will be hosted at Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, a space within Watershed that houses a community of over 180 artists, creative companies, technologists and academics, all exploring ideas at the intersection of art, design and creative technology.

For more information and how to apply, visit our opportunities page.


Patterns in Practice is led by the University of Sheffield and UWE Bristol in partnership with Watershed, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It seeks to understand the cultures of machine learning in science, education, and the arts.

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