Open call: Digital Earth Fellowship 2018–19
Digital Earth
Above: Digital Earth Fellowship 2018–19. Courtesy Digital Earth. 
Above: Digital Earth Fellowship 2018–19. Courtesy Digital Earth. 

Application deadline: July 25, 2018, 11:59pm

Digital Earth is a 6 month-long fellowship for artists and designers based in Africa or Asia, working across a variety of media, who would like to investigate our current technological reality. It is a unique research support programme, which supports experienced artists to reflect, research, experiment and produce work. The fellowship consists of a monthly stipend for work and production costs, mentorship and other various resources. The final results will be exhibited in a roaming exhibition.

Research outline
Planet Earth is wrapped in a gigantic mesh of fiber-optic cables and electromagnetic waves. Its surface is drilled for resources to generate the energy for the data centers that are mining its digital skin for cryptocurrencies. The pervasiveness of technology and the entanglement of wires, devices, minerals and algorithms are creating accidental structures, which exist above and below ground, saturating the whole planet—both physically and cybernetically.

"Digital Earth"refers to the materiality and immateriality of the digital reality we live in—from data centers to software interfaces, and rare minerals to financial derivatives. Earth is dug, excavated, and ripped apart to extract the fundamental materials that keep the computational machine running—oil, coltan, sand, rubber, lithium form the material basis on which digital reality is built. At the same time, digital technologies enable new modes of circulation and extraction, of information and data. Algorithmic regimes regulate the movement of goods and people around the world in relatively smooth fluxes enabled by increasingly sophisticated surveillance systems. These algorithmic regimes generate, track and accumulate such a mass of data that is already referred to as the "digital twin" of Earth. The existence of a physical planet and its "datafied" counterpart generate a discrepancy between the reality on the ground and what is recorded and broadcasted—often leading to violent socio-political, economic, ecological and cultural frictions.

Digital Earth calls upon divergent artists and designers to embark on a journey to examine, challenge and respond to the material and immaterial condition of the current technological reality. For the duration of the programme the fellowship provides a subsistence allowance and production budget to forward-looking practitioners interested in independently creating work within a specific place, context or institution. The fellowship is aimed at artists and designers at a stage in their career wishing to take 6 months for reflection and research.

The geographical focus of the fellowship is on the entanglement of old and new routes that connect Asia to Africa, crossing the Middle East and Central Asia. For centuries, these land and maritime trajectories shaped regional and intercontinental balances of power and culture. Today, similar routes are crossed by goods, people and data at speeds faster than ever, through a circuit of ports, mines, airports, refineries, high speed railways, fibre optic cables and mobile antennas.

Examples of possible research topics are: the infrastructure of Mongolian crypto-mining, the performativity of the robot-ports on the Siberian coastline, the soundscapes of the coltan mines in the heartlands of Congo, the cultural protocols of freeport zones, the aesthetics of satellite imagery, the agency of machinic vision, the political imaginations of geoengineering projects—and more.

Practical info
Duration: September 2018 until February 2019
Number of participants: 15

Organizations that will provide webinars, workshops and residencies
British Council, Hivos, Ashkal Alwan, Electric South, Kër Thiossane, Strelka and The New Center for Research and Practice, more TBA.

Research experts 
Misal Adnan Yıldız, Defne Ayas, Diann Bauer, Nicolay Boyadijev, Benjamin Bratton, Jaya Klara Brekke, Brian Kuan Wood, Reza Negarestani, Mohammad Salemy, Nishant Shah, more TBA.

How to apply
Please make sure to read all the requirements and conditions described on our website: www.thedigitalearth.orgbefore submitting an application. Apply digitally, by emailing an application (no later than July 25, 2018 (11:59pm, CEST)) to [email protected].

June 27, 2018