APPLY BY APRIL 15
Call for Applications – Artist in Residence 2023/24
The Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto seeks applications for its second annual Artist in Residence. The theme for our programming in the 2023/24 academic year is “How Media Count." The Artist in Residence will engage questions of quantification, datafication, numbering, and counting in media. The artist will mount an exhibition of their work at the Centre for Culture and Technology Coach House and will participate in Centre programming as detailed below.
Our inquiry into “How Media Count” proceeds in at least two senses. First, we want to understand how counting—aggregating, numbering, calculating, quantifying—has been a core social, political, and aesthetic activity of media, across many domains and through long histories. Our contemporary media count clicks, measure engagement, sell ads; they articulate us aggregates of data. But computational media—at least since Babbage’s engines—have always been media that count. Second, we want to know how our counting media come to count for us, how they matter. How does counting come to matter? What isn’t computable or countable? How do new AI computational technologies set uncomputable facets of life into relief? Moreover, how do certain technologies—machines that count—come to count as “media,” while others are excluded, occluded, made minor?
A full statement of the theme is available below.
We are especially eager to receive proposals from queer, trans, nonbinary, femme; racialized and/or colonized; disabled; or otherwise marginalized artists.
We seek artists working in “media art,” very broadly understood. This might be work that uses digital technologies and electronics as its artistic medium. Or, it may use any means or media to pose questions or draw insights about contemporary technologies. Or, it may be some conjunction of art, technology, and concept that we have not yet imagined.
We welcome projects in progress as well as proposals for new projects. We are happy to host artists working in pairs or teams.
The studio and exhibition space will be the Coach House, a multi-use heritage building that was once Marshall McLuhan’s salon on campus. Successful projects will activate the space while respecting the limitations of that space.
Photos and dimensions of the space are available upon request.
The Artist in Residence will have studio, work, and exhibition space at the Coach House, on campus at the University of Toronto, from July 15 through October 15, 2023 (start date flexible), with the expectation that an exhibition will run from September 8 through October 15.
The Residency comes with:
a stipend of CAD $10,000
a materials budget of CAD $10,000 (both CAD)
gallery, studio, and research assistance
photo and/or video documentation of the exhibition
access to the University of Toronto libraries
access to fabrication facilities, with additional support for specialized fabrication
a vibrant intellectual community dedicated to critical inquiry into media
In addition to hosting an exhibition, the Centre will also invite three Faculty Fellows (one from the University of Toronto; two from other institutions) to view and engage with the Artist’s work. The Fellows will visit the exhibition while it is mounted, and will return to campus in the Winter Term to deliver public lectures that will be, in part, in conversation with the Artist’s work. We anticipate that Artist’s and Fellows’ lectures will be published, alongside documentation of the exhibition.
The Centre will be happy to help coordinate studio visits with University of Toronto faculty during the residency.
Living and/or moving expenses will not be covered.
Beyond the mounting the exhibition, the Artist in Residence will be expected to make themselves available to host class visits to the exhibition. They will also be the featured speaker at one of the Centre’s famed Monday Night Seminars, running a single 2-hour workshop on a topic of their choosing for students and faculty. The Artist will also deliver a public artist’s talk or lecture related to the work sometime January–April 2024, and to work with the Director of the Centre to prepare this talk for publication. The Artist will also license the Centre to use documentation of the exhibition in Centre publications and publicity.
The Artist must be eligible to work in Canada (e.g., Citizen or Permanent Resident; holders of restricted Work Permits are not eligible). The Artist must not be a current student at the University of Toronto, nor may they hold a full-time staff or academic position at the University (but sessional instructors may apply).
All inquiries about the program may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
To be considered for the residency, please submit the following by email to email@example.com not later than April 15, 2023:
Project proposal of approximately 500 words (and not more than 750)
How Media Count
In Understanding Media, McLuhan writes that “number is an extension and separation of our most intimate and interrelating activity, our sense of touch” (107). “Money,” meanwhile, “as a social medium or extension of an inner wish and motive creates social and spiritual values” (135). Number is often understood as the most abstract, impersonal, or objective measure of the world; McLuhan teaches us that number is also intimate, spiritual, and expression of ourselves. Digital media we all know, are all numerical media; it’s all just 0s and 1s. And these days, all media is digital.
The Centre for Culture and Technology will dedicate its programming in the 2023/24 academic year to the problem of how media count. We mean this in at least two senses. First, we want to understand how counting—aggregating, numbering, calculating, quantifying—has been a core social, political, and aesthetic activity of media, across many domains and through long histories. Our contemporary media count clicks, measure engagement, sell ads. They articulate us aggregates of data. As thinkers like John Cheney-Lippold, Kris Cohen, and Wendy Chun have noted, contemporary computational media deal with users as members of a population. Political economists of platform economies and computational capitalism, like Nick Srnicek and McKenzie Wark, show us how new forms of aggregation and counting bring into being new kinds of power relations, and altering the warp and weft of social fabrics. That said, computational media have always been media that count. IBM got its start building counting machines for the 1890 US census. As Matthew Jones points out, Charles Babbage was the last in a long line of inventors who failed to build the calculating machines they dreamt of; Babbage inherited Blaise Pascal’s problems.
And, second, we want to know how our counting media come to count for us, how they matter. Filthy lucre is an extension of an inner wish. Number is intimate, and has been far more than a simple adding-up across media’s long sweep. How does counting come to matter? What isn’t computable or countable? How do new AI computational technologies set uncomputable facets of life into relief? Moreover, how do certain technologies—machines that count—come to count as “media,” while others are excluded, occluded, made minor?
“How Media Count,” then, is an inquiry into the contemporary mattering of our digital media, as it continues the long, often occluded, historical development of media that count. In 2023 and 2024, counting will be the activity around which our programming will cluster. Together, we will sound out counting’s political, aesthetic, technological, and historical valences.