Two months ago, the art and technology space Eyebeam opened what its director Roderick Schrock calls a “studio and community hub” in Bushwick, Brooklyn. This will now serve as its headquarters for a series of newly announced initiatives, residencies, fellowships and exhibitions announced for its 20th anniversary. Built around ideas of accessibility and inclusion, the programming is part of an overall strategy to transition from an incubator site for artists working with technology into a more publicly engaged space where “people can experience the work we do IRL [in real life] and URL”, a spokeswoman says.
This year’s events include the new online discussion series The Forecast, Welcome Wednesdays, a “happy hour” for current and former Eyebeam artists to share work and experiment, the Eyebeam Assembly, its first major public program for invited speaker, and Access, a year-long residency with an open call for applications, the third in a trilogy that began with Power in 2016 and Trust in 2017. “Post-net neutrality, if there was ever a time to consciously reimagine what we want [accessibility] to be, we better get on it,” Schrock says of this year’s theme.
Schrock says that “artist residents and alumni are engines of the community” and that “Bushwick is at the center of this triangle where so much of our community is located”. Included in those engaged Eyebeam alumni are Heather Dewey-Hagborg and Addie Wagenknech, who in 2016 founded REFRESH, “an inclusive and politically engaged platform”, according to the organisation’s website, aimed at feminist, queer and historically marginalised artists who work in art, science and technology. REFRESH was spurred by the glaring gender inequality in the recipients of the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica, the leading Austrian prize for new media artists. Now, the group is partnering with Eyebeam on a series of joint ventures under the umbrella title Refiguring the Future. These include a three-day symposium with performances, workshops and public talks, a two-year curatorial fellowship (the recipient of which is yet be announced), and an exhibition in 2019.