SMTH in collaboration with MMMAD Festival launch the III International Open Call for Digital Artists under the theme ‘From micro to macro and back’. The first edition, launched in 2021, looked for digital artworks that reflected on landscape in the post-digital era, the second edition was focused on the shopping centre as a cultural space and, in this third edition, we invite artists, creators and digital researchers to imagine, speculate and build critical narratives around scales that defy the human eye. En esta edición contamos con la colaboración de los centros Plenilunio (MADRID), La Torre Outlet (ZARAGOZA), Miramar (MÁLAGA), Fan Mallorca (PALMA DE MALLORCA) y Max Center (BILBAO). La convocatoria estará abierta del 5 October to 27 November 2023. A jury of experts composed of the Mexican curator Ana Drucker, the Brazilian artist Gabriel Massan and the Swiss artist Dirk Koy will select the five best works, which will receive a prize of 1.500,00€ and will be exhibited on the screens of the shopping centres from 11 January to 11 April 2024.

Traditionally, art has been primarily oriented towards things that can be grasped with the natural eye, while science has been using instruments and tools since the 16th century to reach previously 'invisible' questions of the microcosm and macrocosm. Today, in the digital age, artists increasingly work with the same tools, methods and programmes as science. [1] Artists and scientists are often following common paths: from exploration to research, followed by production, delivery and sharing with their communities and broad society. [2]

Digital art is a result of this 'technification', and therefore inseparable from the tools that construct it. From the 0s and 1s of binary language to 3D creation programmes, passing through physics simulators, rendering programmes or programming languages. A discipline with its own logic in which the barriers between art, science and technology are diluted.

In 1977 Ray and Charles Eames published 'Powers of Ten', a film about the relative size of things in the universe [3]. It begins with a couple enjoying a picnic on a sunny October afternoon in Chicago. For the next minutes, the camera transports in a perfectly vertical path to the far reaches of the known universe, back down to the scene of domestic tranquillity where it began and across the skin of its protagonists down to the atomic scale. All this in a seemingly continuous and totally captivating shot. A sequence of more or less abstract images that takes us from the macro to the micro, passing through the domestic.

The simplicity of the work allows the spectator to travel seamlessly from the universal to the molecular scale, through graphics that are as abstract as they are realistic, allowing us to understand, in just a few minutes, an incommensurate number of scientific and technological investigations.

Art plays a key role in society, representing the complex to help us understand it. In the field of digital art, many artists are helping us understand this new hybrid world in which we live.

In the series 'Intertidal Samples' by Entangled Others, an art collective formed by Sofia Crespo and Feileacan McCormick, the artists approach the microscopic scale by speculating on the inner universes in water droplets. They explain 'the extent of what we study is beyond our understanding, yet when we examine even a tiny drop of water, we uncover thriving communities of life and interconnections. It is easy to see each drop as a self-contained world, bounded by surface tension. However, given the opportunity, even the smallest of these ecosystems will blend with other bodies of liquid, altering the life forms and composition within' [4].

In this international open call for digital artists we are looking for works that represent the micro, the macro and/or both. An analytical and critical look at the scales that go beyond us, which, although small and imperceptible or large and impossible to glimpse in their totality, we understand as important. At a time of ecological urgency and digital technological revolution, we take advantage of this time to observe what surrounds us. Using new media and tools to help us imagine, speculate and construct critical narratives around scales that defy the human eye. This is an opportunity for artists, creators and researchers to share their work from the micro to the macro and back.

[1] Renaissance 3.0, ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, 2023 

[2] Arts at CERN, European Organization for Nuclear Research, 2011 

[3] Powers of Ten™, Ray y Charles Eames, 1977

[4] Intertidal Samples, Entangled Others, 2023

'Unbounded on a bounded domain', Gabriel massan

In each edition of the open call we commission a digital artist to create a video work that encapsulates its theme. On this occasion, Brazilian artist Gabriel Massan has been invited to interpret the text, adapting a fragment of their work 'Unbonded On A Bonded Domain'.

‘Unbonded On A Bonded Domain’developed during an online residency at FACT (London, 2023), renders the artist's emotional experience as its raw material. The work takes cues from writer and academic Saidiya Hartman’s notion of ‘Critical Fabulation,’ to explore a virtual ecosystem untethered both from their own identity and the physical and conceptual limitations of the human body, performing speculative scenarios to investigate how queer culture, systemic violence, and virtual identities can help us map out the material world and our relationships with it. Trapped in a Beckettian back-and-forth of existential angst, a group of digital entities questions the nature of their environment and place within it.

Ana Drucker (Mexico, 1991) is situated between her curatorial and artistic practice, focusing on visual and digital art. She is co-founder of SSUAVE, an artist-run space in Barcelona, focused on art production and offering a programme of creative workshops for diverse audiences. She has worked as a visual curator for the MIRA festival in Barcelona and Berlin and as a freelance curator for different organisations such as IDEAL, Sumario, MONOM among others. In 2023 she started as a visual producer for Production Club, a creative studio dedicated to the development of audiovisual events. As an artist her work has been exhibited in several festivals and galleries in Mexico and Barcelona such as Maroma Galería, Casa Tibet, Imagin Café, Miscelánea, Arts Santa Mónica, Festival Loom, La Puntual, Pumarejo, among others.

Dirk Koy (Switzerland, 1977) is an artist who investigates the interface between reality and virtuality, searching for the pictorial component in the digital context. Experimentation plays a fundamental role in his work, inspired by nature, architecture and spatiality. In his work he uses different technologies such as drones, 2D and 3D animation, photogrammetry, augmented reality or virtual reality to create moving digital images. His work has been exhibited, among others, at the Art Center Nabi in Seoul, at the HeK (House of Electronic Arts) in Basel, "Supernova" festival in Denver or FILE Festival in São Paulo. In 2019, Dirk Koy received the Basel Media Art Prize for the work "ground" and in 2022 the work "Intersect" won the Animation Off-Limits prize at the Annecy Animation Film Festival.

Gabriel Massan (Brasil, 1996) is a Berlin-based artist renowned for employing 'fictional archaeology' to craft immersive worlds. Utilizing 3D animation, game engines, digital sculpture, and interactive installations, Massan's work scrutinizes inequality within the Latin American context. Selected residencies and awards include the Arts Explora Program supported by Cité Internationale Des Arts (2023), Dazed 100 (2022), Circa x Dazed (2021), Instituto Moreira Salles (2020), and ETOPIA – Center for Art & Technology (2019). They have created significant commissions with Serpentine Arts Technologies (2022-3), Bangkok Biennale (2022), The Photographers’ Gallery (2022), and X Museum (2022). Massan has presented talks and conversations at institutions including La Biennale di Venezia, Art Basel Miami, DLD Conference, University College London, University Of The Arts, Royal College Of Arts, and Institut Français.