The SETI Institute’s Artist in Residence Program Charter

Carbon 1

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” Carl Sagan


The SETI Institute’s Artist in Residence Program

The mission of The SETI Institute is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe. The Artist in Residence Program facilitates cross-disciplinary artistic expression in order to further research these same goals - fostering an exchange of ideas between artists and scientists such that these disciplines may influence each other through personal interaction and the shared adoption of new technologies. We encourage contemporary artistic processes that allow us all to experience life on this planet and beyond in new ways.

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.

The SETI Institute is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. We have strong relationships with NASA Ames Research Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the University of Southern California, the National Science Foundation, ZERO1, the Department of Energy, Google, TED, The California Academy of Sciences, The Computer History Museum and the greater scientific community including numerous institutions around the world.

AIR program outreach includes public colloquia at the Institute, exhibitions at major cultural institutions, web, TV and radio networking and social media. We currently have one million followers through Facebook and Twitter.

Artist Selection

Selection will be biased toward those artists employing new media and technology 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. 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.

AIR Program Benefits

The SETI Institute AIR position provides access to visitor office work 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. The SETI Institute provides 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.

Funding Requirements

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 grants, foundation 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.

Additional 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.

The AIR Advisory Committee

The AIR Advisory Committee will include SETI Institute scientists, arts professionals and curators from the contemporary arts scene who have an interest in the artistic territory as described in this program.

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. The program is not designed to support traditional illustrative modes of expression. But these are simply guidelines - we want to be surprised !!

On Location

There is no requirement that selected individuals 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 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 financial support. The SETI Institute provides a strong affiliation to enable artists working with scientists access to individuals and facilities they might not otherwise reach.