“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” Carl Sagan
SETI AIR: The SETI Institute’s Artists in Residence Program
The SETI Institute has become an international leader in the movement to integrate the arts and sciences. SETI AIR facilitates an exchange of ideas between artists and scientists so that these disciplines may inspire each other and lead to new modes of comprehension and expression. This program expands upon the SETI Institute’s mission to explore, understand, and explain the origin, nature, and prevalence of life in the universe. Our artists bring fresh eyes to help navigate difficult concepts and act as a bridge to broaden awareness of the science carried out at the SETI Institute.
As of late 2015, the SETI AIR program’s archive will be maintained and developed by the Nevada Museum of Art’s Center for Art + Environment located in Reno, Nevada. We are partnering locally with the Montalvo Arts Center, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and with New Museum Los Gatos (NUMU.) These relationships provide housing, studio space, and exhibition facilities for our SETI Institute artists. The inaugural SETI AIR group show will open in NUMU’s contemporary galleries November, 2016 – running concurrently with a history exhibit about the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project. LOIRP is based in ‘McMoon’ – the former McDonald’s turned laboratory at NASA Ames Moffett Field. Charles Lindsay, our first artist in residence, has become the SETI AIR Program Director. MassMoca curator Denise Markonish will now chair the SETI AIR Advisory Committee. And last, but certainly not least, we are welcoming six outstanding new artists and an arts / science researcher to the SETI Institute’s artists in residence program. 2016 is setting up to be an amazing year.
Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak offers this: “SETI Institute’s research is motivated by our primal interest in other life and other beings. It’s a very human endeavor. And so is art: after all it’s one of the things that distinguishes us from every other life form on this planet. Art is the one thing that’s unique about our world. The one thing that ET doesn’t already have. Well, she may have art, but not our kind of art! There’s a natural synchrony here.”
AIR Program Benefits
The SETI Institute is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. We have strong relationships with NASA Ames Research Center, ZERO1, Montalvo Arts Center, NUMU / New Museum Los Gatos, Stanford’s CCRMA / Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, California Academy of Sciences, the Exploratorium, The Long Now Foundation, JPL / Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USC / the University of Southern California, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Google, TED, Computer History Museum, and scientific institutions around the world.
The SETI Institute provides strong affiliations to enable artists working with science access to individuals and facilities they might not otherwise engage. AIR program outreach includes public colloquia at the Institute, exhibitions, performances, talks at cultural institutions, and artist-led field trips. This initiative is extended through web-based media of all kinds. The SETI Institute currently has over one million followers through Facebook and Twitter.
The SETI Institute AIR position provides access to private office space, phone, internet, and communal space at the SETI Institute when the artist in residence is physically present. The Institute also offers access to scientists and educators on staff and small to medium meeting rooms to support meetings and events. The artists in residence are expected to comply with the Institute’s volunteer policies, and are protected by the same business policies as all volunteers.
Selection will encourage those artists employing new media and technology and/or those whose work exhibits a direct relationship to the contemporary scientific endeavors of SETI Institute researchers. Mid-career artists working in the following fields, though not limited to these, will be considered equally: robotics, rocketry, electronic music, theater and dance, bio-arts, digital and data-arts, computational arts, climate based works, film and photography, philosophy, poetry, kinetic or land based sculpture, geophysical and geological based works, planetary or astronomical based works, and drawing. AIR terms are typically two years. Artists may defer their term for 18 months in order to apply for grants. At this time, all artists to be considered for the AIR position must first be recommended by a member of the Advisory Committee.
The AIR Advisory Committee
The AIR Advisory Committee includes SETI Institute scientists, arts professionals, and curators from the contemporary arts scene who have a broad awareness of current developments and trends in the artistic territory described above. The advisory committee will work with SETI Institute management to select future artists in such a way that the program is broad-based and adheres to the criteria stated above. This initiative also aspires to encourage young people to experience the exciting possibilities emerging at the nexus of art, technology, and the sciences. Our explicit goal is to encourage the art that we haven’t seen or heard yet. As such, the program favors artists working in new media with new ideas – surprise us !!
Selected individuals are not required to be in residence at the SETI Institute during their term. Generally, it is expected that the artist in residence has an established practice in another location and visits the Institute periodically. The SETI Institute does not directly provide living space, transportation, or funding for artists selected for the program, although the SETI Institute is available as the institutional home for funded projects that may provide such support.
SETI Institute AIR recipients must generate their own funding. The SETI Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)3, and can be the institutional home to administer government and foundation grants and private donations for individual artist in residence projects. In the case of artists applying for grants under the auspices of the Institute, funds received are subject to the same indirect costs as all other awards administered by the SETI Institute. Indirect costs are determined according to Federal requirements.
The Artist in Residence position comes with some public visibility. It is our hope that the program will eventually be fully funded—artist’s contributions, visibility, and successes will affect this prospect. SETI Institute AIRs are, through affiliation, SETI Institute ambassadors. It is expected that the artist’s work and behavior will reflect well on the SETI Institute and the scientific community. In the event that this is not the case, the SETI Institute reserves the right to terminate the artist’s position and affiliation at any time.