Thoughtworks Arts


Joaquín Fargas and Eden Community Awarded Mars Residencies

Posted by the Thoughtworks Arts Team
Thursday, 1 December 2022

Parallel residencies have been awarded for projects to take place at Mars College in Bombay Beach, California. The residencies will run simultaneously during January through March 2023.

A headshot of a light-skinned man wearing dark-rimmed glasses, cut next to an aerial view of camper vans set against a dry desert backdrop with mountains in the distance

Residents will be on-site participating alongside other Mars College community members, associating virtually with Thoughtworks employees globally to support their project ambitions.

Joaquín Fargas: “Speculative Futures”

The first award will support Latin American based Joaquín Fargas under the “Speculative Futures” track, designed to empower urban communities through research done in the desert.

As an artist and industrial engineer, Fargas integrates biological materials and technological media centered on possible or utopian proposals related to life, its preservation and the interrelationship between living beings and the future.

For the last 20 years Fargas has worked at the crossroads of art, science and technology, creating work including site specific installations, performances and technologically-sound speculative works which examine an era of climate crisis.

A robot with wooden sides, solar panels and wheels in a desert environment
The Rabdomante

In his Rabdomante project, Fargas’ robots comb desert areas, capturing drinkable water produced as a byproduct of solar energy generation. In his Biosphere project, miniature ecosystems are posited within small encapsulated spheres, capable of producing food via bioponic crop generation.

Projects such as these set the stage for public dialog around consequences of depletion of natural resources. Fargas runs school workshops teaching the workings of technological processes underpinning his work and their relationships with environmental sustainability.

An enclosed sphere with plant material inside, cut against a man inspecting circuitry in the moonlight
The Biosphere project (left) and Joaquín inspecting the Rabdomante (right)

Fargas is the founder of the BioArtLab at Maimonides University in Buenos Aires, now hosted as Latinamerican BioArt Lab by Universidad Abierta Interamericana, where he is professor of Art and Technology. Between 2010 and 2013 Fargas was the Executive Director of the Network for the Popularization of Science and Technology from UNESCO. Fargas is a TED speaker, and his work has been exhibited in museums, galleries and biennials worldwide.

The Eden Community: “Creative AI Infrastructures”

The second residency has been awarded to the community at Mars developing Project Eden, under the “Creative AI Infrastructures” track of the open call. Eden is an infrastructure of AI entities, semi-automated bots and web applications which are interacted with through text-to-image or text-to-text media generation systems.

This award brings together Eden’s technical platform creators, artists and plug-in software developers, to create an artist centric platform enabling work with visual representations and tools in artificial intelligence.

A dense AI-generated landscape of plant and human-like entities
Garden of Eden image created by the Abraham bot

The award allocates financial resources to the Eden project, including the possibility for team members and artists to interact with and gain support from the international technical and creative community of Thoughtworks. Community members will work either individually or in group projects to expand horizons for use in visual AI art.

Sponsoring a democratized, non-hierarchical collaborative will facilitate new possibilities between toolkit creators and the artists who use these developing technologies.

The Martian Experience

Mars College is a nomadic educational program, R&D Lab and residential community in the desert area of Bombay Beach, California. Artists will arrive in Southern California in preparation for their time in the desert at the end of 2022. Time on site will take place during the three month period from January 1 through to March 31, 2023.

A landscape shot of several caravans set against a large desert mountain backdrop

Mars is geographically remote but digitally connected, cultivating a low-cost, high-tech lifestyle exploring emerging technologies. While working on site in the desert, residents will have regular access not only to the surrounding Mars community, but to support from Thoughtworks Arts and facilitated access to Thoughtworks’ global community of technical and creative professionals.

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