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 productive collaborations.

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 interesting.

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,


Suzy O'Hara 
e:[log in to unmask]
t: 07891719319
twitter: @suzy_o_hara

PhD Researcher

Curator & Arts Producer
Thinking Digital Arts 

On 24 Mar 2015, at 01:11, Vicki Sowry <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hello Crumbs,
> 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:
> 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
> residency.
> 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
> each other;
> - 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
> hosts.
> We changed this process for the 2007 round, with immediate and encouraging
> results:
> - 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
> -----------
> Vicki Sowry | Director
> Australian Network for Art and Technology [ANAT]
> On 18/03/2015 8:56 pm, "Suzy" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Dear List, 
>> I would like to share a valuable contribution from Prof David Garcia, Digital
>> Arts & Media Activism, Bournemouth University.
>> I look forward to hearing your thoughts. : )
>> Suzy  
>> 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
>>>> does
>>>> raise some interesting questions about the term 'artist', what it covers and
>>>> what it doesn't and what understanding and expectations industry partners
>>>> have
>>>> of the role and process of the artist in collaborative art/digital industry
>>>> projects?"
>>> 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 employment
>>> cultural landscape made up of networks of interdisciplinary General Purpose
>>> Creativity companies.
>>> These companies and other organisations frequently use digital media as a
>>> catalyst for cross platform hybridity. The general acceptance of this kind of
>>> creative
>>> 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
>>> Bournemouth.
>>> 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
>>> logical
>>> 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
>>> article here:
>>> stion/ I have attempted to demonstrate that this is not neccessarily the
>>> case.
>>> David Garcia
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