Open call for artists AILAB

New call of the European ARTificial Intelligence Lab: Astronomy x AI

Open call for artists AILAB

Doing nothing with AI by Emanuel Gollob. Image: Jürgen Grünwald


The AI Lab (European ARTificial Intelligence Lab) is a follow up project of the European Digital Art and Science Network and offers international artists working in the field of AI to win a residency at a scientific partner institution and at the Futurelab of Ars Electronica. The AI Lab is led and organised by Ars Electronica in collaboration with 15 partners across Europe, including Leiden Observatory. In this open call round artists will have the chance to apply for a residency at Leiden Observatory, the Netherlands.
“Astronomy x AI”

The theme of the residency is Astronomy x AI. The Universe is much larger, more diverse, dynamic and enigmatic than our ancestors could have imagined when they first gazed at the stars. The captivating and mysterious nature of that sight makes astronomy so endlessly fascinating.
By using experimental methods and technological approaches like artificial intelligence, the Leiden Observatory aims at understanding what we actually see when observing such an ungraspable thing as the Universe.
Leiden Observatory is exploring fundamental questions about our place in the Universe: how the past and the future of knowledge can improve the understanding of all that surrounds us and defines our very existence in time.


Residency Structure
The residency is divided in two parts:

The residency is divided in two parts – with an initial 4-6 weeks at Leiden Observatory where the winning artist will have an especially dedicated science mentor to inspire him/her and his/her work. The second part will be 3-6 weeks with the Futurelab team at Ars Electronica with whom the winner will develop and make new work inspired by the residency at Leiden Observatory.


The winning artist will be funded during their residency.
An artist fee in the amount of € 3.000,-, a production budget of € 7.000,- as well as accommodation and travel are funded from an Ars Electronica designated limited fund covering all residencies.
No prize money is involved.
In case the winning party is an artist duo or artist group the artist fee, production costs as well as travel and accommodation costs need to be split between the members.


Submission Details

To participate in the European ARTificial Intelligence Lab, you must register online and submit all mandatory information online.
The submission has to be made in English.
The call is open for international artists (above the age of 18) and all kinds of innovative concepts and ideas in the fields of AI, Machine Learning and Digital approaches to make sense of the Universe.
Originality: The proposal needs to be for original work that demonstrably breaks new ground. That said, the proposed work can be entirely new, or can be an extension of an ongoing body of work.
An entry confirmation will be sent out via e-mail as soon as all required documentation has been received.
A submission is complete and formally entered in the competition only if all information has been entered online and the submission has been finalized online. Works submitted without the required accompanying material will not be accepted.
Employees of Ars Electronica Linz GmbH & Co KG, Edinburgh Futures Institute, partners, sponsors and patrons of the European ARTificial intelligence Lab, staff members of organizations that have established and endowed an individual category, as well as the competition’s jurors are ineligible to participate.

The following documents are required:

A personal testimony video which introduces the artist who describes why and how this residency will inspire new work (up to 5 min.)
An outline of a possible concept/idea which the artist wishes to pursue at the Leiden Observatory and Futurelab
A draft production plan with cost estimation for the realization and timeline
A selected portfolio of work which showcases work the artist is proud of
Entrants are requested not to submit irreplaceable originals since submitted materials cannot be returned

Start Online Submission: 17 June 2020
Online Submission Deadline: 22 July, 2020 (closing deadline 23:59 CEST/GMT+2)

Jury Sessions

The jury sessions will be announced. It will be held with representatives from Ars Electronica and the Leiden Observatory. There will be no written correspondence regarding the decision by the jury, other than to the winners of the award. The Jury’s decision is final and the artist will be expected to take up their residency in autumn 2020.

Evaluation Criteria

Every concept submitted for consideration will be evaluated by a jury of experts in the order in which it was received according to the following criteria:

Interest in the ideas of science as expressed by Leiden Observatory
Aesthetics, Originality
Compelling conception
Technique and quality of the past work in the artist’s portfolio


The winners of the “AI Lab” residency prize will be notified immediately after the jury meeting (which will be held at the beginning of October 2020). In the interest of all entrants, we request that the entrant (or a representative named by him/her) be available during the period when winners will be notified at the address etc. specified in the entry form.


The winning artist(s) will be expected to give public lectures and/or a workshop, and maintain a public blog explaining their creative experience and engagement in the theme. The winner of the European ARTificial Intelligence Lab Residency must make a commitment to attending the Ars Electronica Festival 2021. Groups and institutions are requested to nominate a representative to fulfill this commitment. The winner must provide assurance that he/she/their will definitely present his/her/their project or concept at the Festival Ars Electronica 2021 and at Leiden Observatory. This presentation must be arranged in consultation with the festival organizers, who reserve the right to take festival programming considerations into account in prescribing the format of the presentation. The artist agrees to include the following acknowledgement in all future exhibitions and documentations of the work: This project was developed within the European ARTificial Intelligence Lab and is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

All property rights and any other rights remain with the artist.

To apply please visit

The European ARTificial Intelligence Lab is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

Experiential AI and Edinburgh Futures Institute at University of Edinburgh are supported by the DDI Programme of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.


University Leiden
Ars Electronica
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