initial Open Call
The Sphere Art Incubator: initial open call
Welcome to the Sphere Art Incubator!
This is an open call to Live Art practitioners to participate in The Sphere, a revolutionary Circus DAO funded by Creative Europe.
We are looking for daring artists and performers interested in engaging in a groundbreaking – or rather, terraforming! – experiment in artful value transmission & collaboration.
Two artworks – we call them Seed Performances – have recently accumulated funding through the Sphere Karmic Funding Campaign (more info about this process below). They are now ready to blossom again into existence, i.e. to be revived & derived into new creative iterations.
This is what we call the anarchiving process. What does it consist of?
As an artist, you are invited to create a new version, or derivative iteration, of one of these two artworks: “Materia” by Andrea Salustri and “C8H11NO2” by ROOM 100 – two outstanding and award-winning circus performances that have been carefully selected by the Sphere’s growing community of circus aficionados and crypto-enthusiasts.
If your versioning proposal is selected, you will be granted not only a production budget, but also artistic residencies and occasions to present your work in the network of the Sphere’s funding partners!
The Sphere’s artistic incubation process radically (and practically) challenges the traditional modes of funding in the arts. It is a generative commons prototype designed to facilitate not only collaborative dynamics between the seed artists and the incoming artists, but also between the applying artists themselves.
This proposal-making process also includes the Sphere community as a whole. Think of it as a community-as-a-service resource: as an incoming artist, you get to participate in an emergent and thriving art ecosystem that aims to create more sustainable ways of being creative together.
Interested in knowing more? It’s simple. Just:
- Read carefully the Love letter to incoming artists (click here + here). If you vibe with them, then
- Write a short statement of intent to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will then be invited to join the Sphere Discord Channel, where you will be given access to special channels containing the Seed performance archives, i.e. all the necessary material to start imagining new derivative iterations of the works.
- Once you have explored the material at hand and feel ready to plunge further, you are invited to submit a versioning proposal. At the end of the incubation process, the Sphere’s invested audience will select the winning proposals through quadratic voting (more about the selection process below).
- July 2022: beginning of the incubation process
- Sept. 30th: end of the incubation process and selection of the winning proposals (governance ritual involving quadratic voting)
About the Sphere: everything you need to know
Who is the Sphere?
The Sphere is a group of (extraordinary!) people exploring new strategies of funding for the performing art world. We are interested in new media and web 3.0 technologies, and are inspired by the trust-making, risk-taking, boundary-pushing practice of circus. Our goal is to redistribute the risks and opportunities of making art by facilitating the involvement of artists, audiences and other potential stakeholders at different stages of the curation and creative process. (check out our manifesto here)
What are the Seed Performances?
The 2 seed performances at the heart of this incubation process have gone through quite a journey already. They are just waiting for you to germinate! In november 2021, The Sphere issued a call to CircusNext’s laureates of the last 20 years (you can find it here). Out of the 24 applications we received, 6 performances were selected through a quadratic voting process involving the Sphere’s funding partners and community.
These 6 seed performances then became part of the Sphere Karmic Funding Campaign held on Mirror.xyz, a web 3.0 crowdfunding platform. They are showcased in the Sphere 3D exhibition room (you should definitely go have a look!)
The Karmic Funding Campaign extended from March 1st to May 15th. Despite the bear market, we are most proud that C8H11NO2 by ROOM 100 ended up reaching its funding threshold (fixed at 10 ETH) and thus made it into the Incubation phase! You can find all the details about the Karmic Funding campaign on mirror.xyz here; you can also check our carefully crafted explanatory twitter threads here and here.
Andrea Salustri’s MATERIA seed performance reached the Incubation phase through a slightly different process, the Sphere Megavote. Using the Cygnet quadratic voting app created by our friends at BlackSwanDAO, the public was invited to select which of the six initial seed performances would be granted pre-budgeted funding from The Sphere. (For more info about what is quadratic voting and how it works in the context of the Sphere, please check this neat tutorial).
What is the exact budget + resources attached to each seed performance?
Andrea Salustri’s MATERIA:
- 2 x 10 000 EUR for incoming proposals
- Art residencies in France and Italy (Maison des Jonglages and Cordata F.O.R)
C8H11NO2 by ROOM 100:
- 11,33 ETH from the karmic funding campaign (approximately 15 000 EUR), to be granted to one or a few proposals
- potential residency time
How will the selection of the winning proposals be made?
At the end of the incubation phase, The Sphere community and stakeholders (i.e. people who have contributed to the Karmic funding campaign) will decide which proposals should be rewarded through a quadractic voting process. For more details about the repartition of voting powers, check our governance diagram here.
What is the Anarchiving process again?
We are interested in reviving past works, but we are even more interested in seeing how these works will evolve and generate their own derivative lineages over time. This is why the selected artists have been invited to initiative the anarchiving of their already existing performances, that is: to transform them into an open-ended score for future iterations. Think of a time capsule or a love letter addressed to you, future performers, enclosing different potential variations and enabling constraints to be interpreted in unexpected ways.
Why blockchain, DAO and NFTs?
The reason is simple: with these web 3.0 tools, it becomes possible to imagine new ways of funding performing arts ecosystems and seeding a new collaborative infrastructure for the circus community. We envisage a world in which audiences can easily become co-owners of artworks they care for together with artists, technicians, cultural professionals and all other stakeholders of a given project.
We are basically taking up the question of funding as part of the Art itself. We shift the hierarchies of institutional gatekeeping and give it back to the people. This is why we operate as Circus DAO – a distributed autonomous organization making use of web 3.0 tools to change funding structures from within.
Wider considerations around the Sphere Art Incubator
We don’t yet know what the Sphere Digital Soul can do. One thing is for sure: this incubation phase will generate unexpected results! This is truly where the weirding of art & financial flows is set to take place.
Consider the usual mode of funding in the arts. Normally, an indeterminate number of artists compete for a predetermined amount of money that is, at best, allocated through an anonymous jury of peers. Structurally, this means that every participating artist is pitted against one another, competing individually for a limited amount of resources. And as appointed gatekeepers, the jury benefits from a privileged insight on how the public art institution works, for better (they will know better what to write in their next proposal), and for worst (knowing how to write a successful grant proposal isn’t exactly making anyone a better artist).
In such a system, the intelligence of the whole funding + creative process is strangely siloed.
We can do better!
The Sphere’s Incubator allows the Sphere’s community to practically and radically question the traditional modes of funding by facilitating collaborative dynamics between the proposing artists themselves, as well as with the seed performers they will work with. We can even imagine a cloud of angelic helpers participating in the creative and deliberative process – here come the anarchivists formerly known as the audience!
A few questions come to mind. What role seed performers will play in shaping the derivative work lineage? How much power and influence do the initial seed performers will hold over future iterations inspired by their work? How to ensure a safe and inspiring environment for the emergence of thriving collective versioning of previous works?
The allocation of the funding is ultimately governed by the invested audience, not by the artists themselves. Yet, through the anarchiving process and performative contracts attached to their work, artists can certainly condition the type of derivative work that can be produced in the wake of their seed performance, by inserting all sorts of prompts, semi-juridical clauses and other enabling constraints. What type of match-making between future artists and seed performers will take place during the incubation phase? And what qualitative role the invested audience now turned anarchivists might play in this process?
These are all questions we are most thrilled to pursue further with you all.
What is most valuable is also what is most vulnerable. This applies all the more so to the Sphere’s Live Art Network Derivative in the making (another name for the generative commons we are slowly growing). Its value, in the last instance, does not reside so much in the techno-promises of our web 3.0 digital infrastructure, or in the alleged impartiality of our formal voting mechanism, as in the effective games of collaboration that this whole emergent ecosystem is about to set in motion. If our main objective is indeed to redistribute the risks and opportunities of making art, this will only be possible if we create the propitious conditions for an ethos of speculative generosity to flourish and irrigate this emergent – and always fragile – ecology of artful funding practices.
For it is a hell of a way to run a code: to program that which will otherwise wither, to generate collective lived abstractions and loop them back into existence, to seed the memory of past endeavors into propositional fragments and the preliminary instructions for running them, all the while curating a metastable portfolio of social obligations and anarchic shares so as to making ourselves mutually – and joyfully – indebted.
“Feeling interdependence does not derive from knowledge. It is above all an act of “letting oneself be touched” and involves a form of gratitude that is neither subjective nor objective, since its truth lies in its generativity. If this feeling needs to be cultivated, it is because it is vulnerable. As humans, we know only too well that we may get dragged into ingratitude, entrenching ourselves against the feeling that we are who we are thanks to others. However derisory, interstitial, and fragile interdependence may seem, the task of the inquirer is to make it exist as part of a practical and political imagination, to be reactivated bit by bit and step by step.” – Isabelle Stengers, We are divided