re your question "it would be great to hear more about the broader
infrastructure Synapse provides for artists outside of the host
Absolutely.. well, at a purely pragmatic level we do all of the
fundraising, contracting (which can sometimes be a rather lengthy process,
particularly around IP), financial management, project lead (we visit all
residencies in-situ), standardised evaluation questionnaires (measuring
comparable qualitative outcomes over the past six years) and acquittal.
Beyond that, we host their residency blogs on our servers for ever, and
promote their work in various forums, art and otherwise.
For the past four or five years I've been trying to raise funds to support
an annual alumni meeting of Synapse artists and scientists for a number of
- to support the science collaborators, who often feel like lone-wolves in
their institutions, to establish networks with like-minded researchers;
- for the recently-completed residents to present "what they did on their
- for the newly-selected residents to present "what they hope to do on
- and for the artists and scientists to mingle over good ideas and wine and
come up with entirely new collaborations.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Suzy <[log in to unmask]>
Date: 26 March 2015 at 21:23
Subject: Re: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Emerging Ideas: March 2015 Discussion
To: Vicki Sowry <[log in to unmask]>
Cc: [log in to unmask]
Delighted you could join us Vicki, and thank you for sharing your valuable
insights and learning from the Synapse initiative. I’ve been thoroughly
enjoying exploring your website.
Synapse is a very interesting model that supports shorter-term
opportunities for collaboration and recognises the importance for
longer-term relationships. The value of nurturing sustainable relationships
that can evolve beyond the term of a particular project has been raised by
a number of our contributors.
You highlight some important limitations inherent within the earlier
Synapse approach of ‘matching’ artists with science collaborators with no
previous relationship. Your description of the early residency process
illustrates the time and capacity it takes for collaborators to engage
during the initial stages of a collaboration of this nature. And how
transformational finding the right approach is to creating/curating
You describe your updated model from 2007, requiring a joint application
between artist and science host, as having ‘immediate and encouraging
results.’ It is interesting that NESTA provided a match making service of
sorts, to support the development of three way partnerships between
academic, technological and cultural collaborators. I wonder how successful
this approach was?
It is interesting that you note a joint application approach resolved
issues of ‘language / communication and identification of research focus’.
This is reflected in Dave’s post from yesterday ‘The Art and Science of
Play’, where he also highlights that effective, productive collaborations
take time and benefit greatly from a nurtured, ‘pre project relationship.’
After 8-10 months of communications around his Project Nimbus, he states
‘The previous months of conversation were key in building the relationships
between us to allow the flexibility for rapid idea generation to happen.
This was trust, especially in the process of building relationships.
Sharing ideas is one thing, but having the freedom to be respected both
socially, professionally to share ideas; trust builds confidence”
Memo also makes this point when he describes his experience with the brand
Saatchi and Saatchi as ‘perfect’. Professional trust and respect, developed
over time seem to underpin and unlock the potential for creative freedom in
all of these relationships.
I would be interested in hearing more thoughts on more temporary, dynamic
style experiences- such as those described by Victoria around Hacks and
'Pop Up Residencies'.
'As a new media artist, I am finding that dynamic and usually short - term
experiences, in the form of workshops, hacks or pop up residencies (such as
Digital Media Labs which provided equipment, mentorship and other artists
work/ play with during a high - intensity week), are more productive for
pushing my practice forward and opening up new opportunities than
traditional studio - style residences. Exposure to equipment and networking
tend to be the most difficult resources to obtain, but ones that are
plentiful in these new dynamic models"
Vicki it would be great to hear more about the broader infrastructure
Snyapse provides for artists outside of the host organisation, which
support the artist to evolve their artistic investigations?
The fact that Synapse residences have no requirement for outcomes reflects
Irini’s described approach and ethos for her programme at the V&A Museum
‘as an exchange and ideas lab, where we could share more processes rather
than finished work and engage artists, designers, engineers, makers,
scientists and other practioners with the public in collaborative work,
discussions and workshops.”
Irini echoes your evaluation that this kind of open ended approach – or as
you describe it ‘speculative collaborative research’ produces a greater
breathe of outcomes
‘that arise as part of the research process, rather than being the driver”
generate deeper, longer term collaborations and are generally much more
This approach also echoes Olga’s pertinent questions around the role of the
artist in wider society being potentially located in catalysing fundamental
research – for all fields?
Thanks a million,
e:[log in to unmask]
Curator & Arts Producer
Thinking Digital Arts
On 24 Mar 2015, at 01:11, Vicki Sowry <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Long-time reader, first-time poster here.
I've been thoroughly enjoying reading the many insightful and interesting
posts in this month's topic, so thank you to Suzy and the contributors.
I'm Director of the Australian Network for Art & Technology (aka ANAT),
which has been offering art/science residencies for the past ten years in
partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts.
The residencies are delivered as part of the Synapse initiative, which also
includes longer-term (2-3yr) residencies through the Australia Research
Council's Linkage program and an online database of art/science
collaborative projects: www.synapse.net.au
I started looking after the Synapse residencies in 2007. At that time, many
of the earlier residencies had been limited in their collaborative potential
by the process we had in place, specifically:
- we would call for host organisations;
- we would select three/four organisations;
- we called for artists to select which organisation they would like to
undertake a residency with;
- we would match an artist to each host for a three-month full-time
Generally, what would end up happening (noting there are always exceptions):
- the artist and host would spend the first month learning how to talk to
- they would spend the second month trying to figure out what research they
might collaborate on;
- and then have a whole four-weeks to do so.
Not surprisingly, this often resulted in relatively limited collaborations
and little in the way of an ongoing relationship between the artist and
We changed this process for the 2007 round, with immediate and encouraging
- we required a joint application from artist and host (meaning issues of
language/communication and identification of research focus had all been
dealt with prior to the application being submitted);
- we increased the residency term to four months full-time.
Since this change, we have witnessed relationships between the artist and
their host researchers that are considerably deeper and which continue over
many months and years after the conclusion of the residency. Also, the
outcomes are generally much more interesting. That said, it is important to
note that Synapse residencies have no requirement for outcomes; indeed, if
someone submits an application that anticipates an outcome at the outset
(for eg. a new work or an exhibition), they will usually not be selected.
Why? Because the Synapse residencies have as their core focus speculative
collaborative research... we want the partners to be able to 'follow their
noses' and incorporate learnings gleaned throughout the residency. Whilst we
foreground the speculative nature of the residencies, there are almost
always outcomes that arise as part of the research process, rather than
being the driver. These have included academic papers, exhibitions,
workshops or seminars, artefacts, conference presentations, successful bids
for longer-term engagement through the ARC Linkage program or, in one case,
the establishment of a University-based artist's residency program, placing
artists into other faculty and supported directly by the Vice-Chancellor.
I'm happy to write further about our model if anyone is interested, but in
the meantime you can read about the 30+ artists who have participated in
Synapse residencies over the last decade here:
With best regards
Vicki Sowry | Director
Australian Network for Art and Technology [ANAT]
On 18/03/2015 8:56 pm, "Suzy" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I would like to share a valuable contribution from Prof David Garcia,
Arts & Media Activism, Bournemouth University.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts. : )
On 16 Mar 2015, at 15:36, David Garcia <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dear Suzy, I wanted to contribute to the Terminology thread in your notes
from the Emerge meeting. This part of the discussion focuses on the fact
that something about the digital revolution has made it harder to categorise
practitioners in the creative sector. Where once we would have spoken easily
about artists, illustrators or designers we now have to work with a more
expanded hybrid, boundary crossing vocabulary.
I think that Simon who declared that he was "interested in how artists are
currently self-identifying. We increasingly see a range of titles beside
that of Œartist¹ in the biogs of artists. At a recent talk, Dave Griffiths
introduced himself as a Œgeneralist¹. Dave describes himself as an artist,
director and inventor and mentions Liam self identifies as a creative
practitioner, hacker, maker, artists or all or any of these. Danny mentions
artists and digital creatives.
While artists themselves seem comfortable with using multiple titles, it
raise some interesting questions about the term 'artist', what it covers and
what it doesn't and what understanding and expectations industry partners
of the role and process of the artist in collaborative art/digital industry
I agree with Simon that this is important because the change in terminology
points to a deeper change. I would argue that it is indicative of how the
persistant concept of the *Creative Industries* in conjunction with the fact
that for more than two decades courses of media art and design are no longer
locked into single media crafts; e.g. painting, sculpture, film,graphic
design, or web design etc means that we have seen the emergence an
cultural landscape made up of networks of interdisciplinary General Purpose
These companies and other organisations frequently use digital media as a
catalyst for cross platform hybridity. The general acceptance of this kind
hybridity is reflected in the currency of a term designating a new kind of
professional: *the Creative*- a term that, these days, frequently displaces
-artist or designer- Our acceptance of hybridity as a fact of proffessional
life is the basis of the new MA that Neal and I have been developing for
A symptom of this has been the recent decision of Central St Martins to
develop of all things an MBA. It would have once seemed absurd to have
instituted an MBA in an art school but these days it is seen as simply a
consequence of the commodification of the concept of creativity. The
question is does this attempt to capture and commodify digital cultures mean
that the radical potential of this movement is now extinguished. In an
stion/ I have attempted to demonstrate that this is not neccessarily the
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