Thoughtworks Arts

Thoughtworks Arts Wants To Send You To Mars

— that is

Application deadline: September 12, 2022

In the new post-lockdown era, what are we on the brink of? Ecological, democratic and social anxieties demand we remake our futures. Do viable alternatives exist to allow us to cohabit the planet with reimagined technologies, renewable resources, rewired communities and low impact lifestyles? What can be accomplished if it all falls apart? What new horizons can inspire and prepare us?

A series of concentric circles illustrating more than 20 different elements of the Mars culture - follow the link for full details

Thoughtworks Arts seeks two artists-in-residence for separate but parallel residencies on-site at, an educational program, R&D Lab and off-grid residential community in the desert area of Bombay Beach, California. Mars is geographically remote but digitally connected, cultivating a low-cost, high-tech lifestyle exploring emerging technologies.

Artists will receive online incubation and project facilitation through Thoughtworks’ global network of technologists, and a stipend of $11,000 to cover all expenses including transportation and living costs. Mandatory dates of the program run from 1 January to 31 March 2023, with arrival required at least a few days before the program commences. The two artists-in-residence will live in RV’s (recreational vehicles) in the desert full-time throughout the program.

Three large solar panels arranged on top of a large pallet-rack structure in the desert

Artists are invited to apply to develop a project on one of two themes:

Theme 1. Speculative Futures - Do It There, Take It Back To The Neighborhood

Mars has an ongoing and developing practice of self sufficiency in a desert environment. You are invited to propose something the artist can create in the desert during 3 months that can help people in underserved neighborhoods in inner cities or rural areas. Focus areas could include:

  • Mobile living, novel structures or computer aided constructions
  • The network as place — telepresence
  • Physical computing and DIY
  • Remote work and nomadic lifestyles
  • Decentralization, web3, and online communities
  • Energy efficiency, renewable and smart grids
  • Environment control and data
  • Waste management, trash, recycling, up cycling, grey water, black water

Theme 2. Alternative AI Creative Infrastructures - The Sky’s The Limit

Mars has a robust community of artists and technologists creating and collaborating over a dedicated Discord server. You are invited to submit a new proposal or submit a proposal that builds on one of the following focus areas or projects:

  • Autonomous creative and economic agents
  • AI / generative models
    • Text (writing assistants, chatbots)
    • Image (text-to-image, image-to-text)
  • Compute
    • Building bots (mostly on Discord)
    • Cloud compute (optimize your FLOPS)
  • AI + Web3
    • Alternative economies for AI-generated goods
    • / autonomous artificial artists
  • Telepresence
  • Distributed computing

Please make your project proposal to ONLY ONE of these themes. Mars is not able to support large groups or families, or pets, due to the DIY and rugged nature of the living environment, but can support smaller collaborations. If you are applying from a foreign country please check both the visa and immigration policies, as work permits cannot be issued by Thoughtworks Arts or Letters of support for artists grants can be issued.

People attending an electronics workshop inside a structure in the desert


  • 2022
    • September 12 - Application deadline
    • October 10-21 - Finalist interviews
    • October 26 - Resident selection announcement
    • Before end of December - Residents arrive in California
  • 2023
    • January 1 - Residencies commence onsite at Mars
    • January 2-March 31 - Online incubation with Thoughtworks Arts
    • March 31 - Residencies conclude

How to Apply

Applicants must submit a proposal using the form below before the application deadline of midnight September 12, 2022.

Apply Now

Your proposal should tell us who you are, what your project idea is, and how you plan to implement it. Where there are skills required which you do not have or cannot supply, please let us know.

Additional Resources