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Springtime STARTS in Paris

The team heads to France for the STARTS Residencies Days

Author: Feimatta Conteh

We headed over to Paris for a couple of days at the end of March for the second round of STARTS Residencies Days at the Pompidou Centre.

The EC- STARTS initiative aims to promote the inclusion of artists in Horizon 2020 science and technology innovation projects, giving a platform to creativity and co-creation. STARTS does this through a strand which funds 3 years of artistic residencies, one of which has been Fault Lines artist Kasia’s residency with GROW. During the residency, Kasia created By the Code of Soil with Scanner, which you can read more about on the blog.


The two days of sessions featured presentations from in-progress residencies ranging from a large-scale floating sculpture that uses nanotechnology to monitor water quality, to a tool which uses arithmetic and geometry to explore the relation between physical action and visual representation and the first artwork to be presented on the atomic scale. Some pretty mind-blowing stuff!

As the producer for Kasia’s residency and representative of the GROW project,  I participated in a panel along with Kasia and representatives of other residencies from the first round of STARTS. It was great that this was an all female panel; a refreshing difference from the last time we were at the STARTS residencies days.

On the panel, my biggest learning was realising that the scale of GROW means it is quite different to many of the “technology” projects participating in the STARTS programme. GROW is not about developing new technology or asking an artist to contribute to shaping a new “widget”; rather GROW is innovating across a number of areas shaping up new ways for citizens to contribute to earth observation science.

I also had the chance to be a Pollution Explorer participating in Ling Tan’s work exploring air quality issues through subjective perception using custom made wearable technology. We must have looked a sight parading around streets and squares by the Pompidou Centre in our customised jackets, using arm gestures to signal how we felt about air quality in the area.

It was great meeting people from other residencies tech projects and artists and grappling with the issues, challenges and intricacies around inspiration and innovation, the sometimes subtle distinction between art and design. In conversation with artists participating in residencies, it was clear that sometimes they had to stand their ground when it came to their creative process that artworks could not be produced on spec.