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Trevor Paglen, CLOUD #603 Watershed, 2019. Photo: Terrance James/AP. Courtesy of Trevor Paglen and Pace Gallery.

Eyebeam to Fund Artists Working Toward a More Equitable Digital Future

With New York City still shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Brooklyn-based arts nonprofit Eyebeam, which was forced to put its flagship residency program on hold, is launching a new artist-led initiative called Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future. The program will provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to artists pursuing work on topics such as accessible internet and technologies, public policy, data privacy, artificial and natural intelligence, impacts of the coronavirus, and a more humane digital realm. Artist Stephanie Dinkins, writer Nora N. Khan, and artist Hito Steyerl are among those on the project’s advisory board.

Financed through funds diverted from its long-standing residency, the initiative received an additional $300,000 in support from the Henry Luce Foundation and the Mellon Foundation. Commenting on the impetus behind the program, Roderick Schrock, Eyebeam’s executive director, told Artnet: “I threw my hands in the air and said, ‘I don’t know what a residency means right now. I don’t know what a program that’s predicated on people coming together in space will look like in the future.’ . . . If there was ever a time to create a protected space outside the economies of art and technology, this is the moment to do that.”

Through an open call for applications, which ends on May 30, artists are invited to consider the answers to the questions: How do we begin to exit surveillance capitalism as the dominating form of digital life, and what can replace it? A jury comprising members from the creative and technology sectors will then select twenty-seven artists to participate in the first phase of Rapid Response. They will each receive $5,000 for their proposals and will then be able to apply for up to $25,000 to continue their work.

Mariko Silver, president and CEO of the Henry Luce Foundation, said: “This is a time of profound loss, but it must also be one of invention. Artists work at the edge of what is possible, what has yet to be imagined, and Eyebeam’s new initiative will cultivate new points of view, new discourse, and new solutions.”

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