Co-Commission Opportunity

Art Co-commission for the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research and NEoN Digital Arts Festival

The Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research brings together scientists from a broad range of disciplines to develop new potential drug molecules. This includes chemists, biologists, parasitologists, drug dynamics specialists and computational expertise. We are united by our desire to tackle the need for new medicines to help with diseases of the developing world. In particular, our work so far has focused on 2 diseases, both caused by parasites.  

Visceral leishmaniasis is spread by Sandfly bites and is most prevalent in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Africa. It causes significant organ damage and, untreated, can be fatal. It is particularly devastating when it affects people with HIV.

Chagas’ disease is naturally found in triatomines. These insects are commonly called “kissing bugs” due to the distinctive way they bite their victim around the mouth. Found in Central and Southern America, it is rarely diagnosed before it causes serious damage to internal organs, particularly the heart.

Both of these diseases affect the poorest people in their endemic areas. Current treatments are often ineffective and inefficient for patients to take.  We seek to revolutionise how people with these diseases are cared for.

During 2018 NEoN Digital Arts Festival will explore the theme ‘LIFESPANS’ envisioning the paths of so-called ‘digital natives’, those born into an Internet and digitally-enabled world. We’ll investigate how this affects our perception of lifespans – considering both our socio-digital lives online and our real-world lives offline – as we face a technologically-enhanced future. Artists play a role in reimagining what it means to be human in the digital age. Access to Internet-connected devices, self-designed infrastructure, and customised genetically targeted medicine will change our global futures. New technologies not only inform scientific research to tackle disease, but also may themselves potentially extend our lifespans. NEoN wishes to highlight the work of artists who challenge and celebrate ideas of time, transmission, generation, and the here and now.

The work could take a variety of web-based and networked forms including being participatory or interactive. Whatever the output, it must be digital and exhibitable online. We are interested in works that explore ideas of design, of possible futures (thought experiments) or are data-driven/illustrative. There is a possibility to work with scientists from one or more of WCAIR’s areas of expertise.

The commission will be launched online at part of NEoN Digital Arts Festival 2018. It is intended that it could also be included in WCAIR’s planned exhibition in Spring-Summer 2019 at LifeSpace Science Art Research Gallery, coinciding with the Centre’s international scientific conference. There is potential for the work to be exhibited at future events as WCAIR develops new international partners. The artist fee includes NEoN and WCAIR-organised exhibitions and presentations from November 2018 through April 2021, subject to agreement with the selected artist(s).

Deadline for submissions 20 July 2018
For exhibition beginning 7 November 2018
Artist Fee £2500
Exhibition and production costs, including travel, to be agreed with commissioners up to £2000


Open Call announced 19 June
Deadline 20 July
24-27 July – follow up conversations where necessary (by email/phone)
1 August – decision made, artists informed and announced
3 September – selected artist give progress report
1 October – selected artist to give second progress report including confirming details relating to the work’s launch/exhibition
7 November – Work launched at opening of NEoN Festival, Dundee. Possibility of artist to participate in symposium or workshops
Spring 2019 – Work exhibited at LifeSpace. Possibility for artist to present work to scientific conference delegates.

Submission Requirements
Submissions must include a proposal detailing:

  • Title
  • Name(s) of Creators
  • Artistic concept including relation to NEoN’s theme (250 words)
  • Note of relation to WCAIR research and ideas of which areas of science expertise are of interest, if appropriate
  • Installation details/Technical specification
  • Production Schedule
  • Description of risks involved in and support needed for production
  • Artistic statement/Prior work (250 words)
  • Supporting material – links, images, etc.
  • Contact details: email, phone, address.

Documents should be submitted as PDFs, or as links to a Google Doc or another easily read and easily accessed format.

If you have questions or enquiries about this commission please email Ali Floyd, WCAIR Public Engagement Manager, or Donna Holford-Lovell, Director at NEoN.

Please use the subject line “WCAIR NEoN Proposal”.


About the Partners 
The Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research, University of Dundee
We bring together researchers from a wide variety of backgrounds to address the urgent need for new medicines to fight diseases of the developing world.  This includes the expertise of the Drug Discovery Unit, where researchers from medicinal chemistry and biology backgrounds develop and explore new molecules.  It also unites parasitologists who study the diseases and scientists who investigate the modes of actions of potential target compounds. We also have a training programme, which aims to increase drug discovery capacity in disease-endemic countries.  

Finally, the Centre funding has allowed the development of a public engagement strand which aims to present our science to the public in innovative ways.  We are exploring theatre commissions, digital projects and the intersection of art and science as mediums for engaging our publics in Dundee, the rest of the UK and beyond.

NEoN (North East of North)
NEoN (North East of North) based in Dundee, Scotland aims to advance the understanding and accessibility of digital and technology driven art forms and to encourage high quality within the production of this medium. NEoN has organised 10 annual festivals to date including exhibitions, workshops, talks, conferences, live performances and public discussions. It is a platform to showcase national and international digital art forms. Driving the evolution of digital and technology drive arts, NEoN explores and redefines its relevance in today’s society. By bringing together emerging talent and well-established artists, with new audiences it aims to influence and reshape the genre. NEoN creates opportunities for collaboration and spontaneity and pushes beyond expectations. Its program of international and regional artistic exchanges aims to nurture the arts roots of the region whilst drawing in the arts world’s greatest talent in new ways as to give its audience an opportunity to explore some of today’s complex issues.

NEoN is supported by Creative Scotland  


Image: Mark Doyle, Circuit 1, Formation, 2015 courtesy the artist and ASCUS

Degree Show 2018

NEoN blogger Ana Hine checked out the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design Degree Show 2018 in recognition of the Year of the Young People.

The best digital art pieces at this year’s degree show at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design were incredibly simple, deceptively so. Take Catriona Beckett’s two-screen piece ‘Balances in Tandem: Harmonic Opposites’ on level six of the Crawford Building; a relaxing combination of sound, video, animation, and painting that looked like a memory of an Escher staircase. The constantly shifting folded paper move to a light, refined tonal soundscape of electric piano. The Art & Philosophy student wrote and performed the musical accompaniment to the piece herself, and describes the works as being: “continually embedded with new meanings as they are co-authored; letting them exist by re-generating imaginatively within the space.”

This focus on sound and atmosphere is also present in Laura Stubbings’ work, available to view immediately upon entering the lower foyer of the Cooper Gallery. Her immersive installation piece, ‘Ego Death’, involves the viewer putting on a pair of headphones and stepping into a small cylindrical room, which at first looks completely black. As your eyes adjust the walls are revealed to be covered in round lights the size of a two-pound piece that fade on and off in time to the peaceful, almost meditative music. Stubbings writes that the piece is an attempt to: “take the viewer out of their own mind, to quieten their ego, if even just for a moment… the darkness allows you to become one with the space.” The effect was similar to being in a sensory deprivation tank, and while it wouldn’t be something to recommend to people who struggle in claustrophobic spaces it was a highlight of the show.

Calming light was also used in Andrew Shearer’s prototype lamp in the Product Design display on level five of the Matthew Building. His design responds to weather patterns and increases the level of blue light in response to a dull cloudy day or a day with fewer daylight hours. The idea is to combat seasonal affective disorder, which can affect a large proportion of adults in northern countries. He explains: “The Sun Assisted Daylight (S.A.D.) lamp adjusts its brightness depending on the live weather being recorded, and therefore it should help steady anybody’s circadian rhythm very subtly.”

Back on level six of the Crawford Building, Steven Shealth in the Fine Art department used the open-source micro-computer Arduino to create a programed light display within porcelain wasps’ nests. He hopes that the piece will draw attention to the fragile position of bees, wasps, and other insects in our eco-systems which are struggling. He writes: “Porcelain just like the eco-system is fragile and if you are not careful it will break into tiny pieces. The use of light and sound create an immersive sensory experience while expressing the life of these creatures, which threatens to be extinguished”.

Although the amount of digital art on display this year is fairly small, those who want to see a relaxing mix of technology and creativity would do well to head down the Perth Road and check out these pieces. The degree show is on until May 27 and is free to visit.

Feature Image of work by Catriona Beckett

10 Years of NEoN!

Almost a decade has passed since the first NEoN Digital Arts Festival, so as we prepare to welcome artists and makers from across the world to our fair city of Dundee we decided to also take a look back on ten years of digital art festivities.

NEoN – which stands for North East of North, a reference to Dundee’s geographical location on the east coast of Scotland above what is termed the ‘North’ of England – was initially going to be a business conference. Director Donna Holford-Lovell explains how that idea was quickly dropped in favour of a festival. She said: “A small team of industry professionals persuaded them to make it something much more as they were bored of business conferences. With a focus on moving image, music and information technologies, the festival offered talks, performances, screenings and exhibitions that expanded the notion of art, information communication, media production and game design.”

Over two thousand visitors attended the first festival, which featured keynote addresses by the late Bud Luckey, the animator and character designer for Toy Story, and video game composer Tommy Tallarico. Donna organised a fringe exhibition with curator Clare Brennan, which included game demos, video work, concept art, and music. She says: “It was so successful; we had thousands of people through the door in the first few hours. It proved that there was an audience for this kind of thing and really helped show off what Dundee had to offer.”

Bud Luckey at the very first NEoN in 2009

The festival went from strength to strength. A personal highlight for Donna was being able to commission a new work by Japanese artist Akinori Oishi for the second festival in 2010. She says: “In 2008 I went to New York to see Akinori Oishi speak at the Pictoplamsa Conference. I had followed his work for a while, and I wanted to work with him. Then in 2010 we decided to go for another iteration of the NEoN festival with a theme of Character – it was the ideal opportunity to invite Oishi to exhibit and create new work for the festival.”

Akinori Oishi at NEoN 2010

Being able to commission new work is one of the main perks of organising a festival like NEoN. Donna explains how in 2015 they were able to work with another Japanese artist – Ei Wada. With funding from New Media Scotland she travelled to Japan to meet the artist and his gallery manager, Habu Kazuhito, which led to Wada having his UK premiere at NEoN that year. She explains: “This resulted in a number of new commissions that have played in big part in his development. He has gone on to be a very prolific and celebrated artist all over the world. It was such a pleasure to work with him and all the team involved.”

Obviously funding is a big part of any artistic venture and NEoN has been fortunate to have managed to secure a fair bit over the years, most recently from Creative Scotland. When asked what she wishes she’d known when she started Donna replied: “Many things … one important thing is not to rely on financial support from organisations that don’t understand what you do, or don’t understand the value of what you do!” She also emphasised the importance of getting written agreements from everyone involved at the onset, but admits that part of the fun over the last decade has been not knowing exactly how things are going to play out. She said: “Knowing too much may have not made it as exciting. Every year has been a rollercoaster which helps fire the passion and adrenaline. Knowing that NEoN is now ten years old makes me feel old! But it also makes me smile. I always said I would make it work and it would become my full time job – and it has. Also becoming a regular fund organisation with Creative Scotland makes us very proud. It proves we have been doing great things and that there is an appetite for it.”

There’s certainly an appetite for NEoN, and as we enter its tenth year expectations are high. Will the festival continue for another ten years? “I would hope so, however I may have emigrated to Japan by then!” laughs Donna. “It’s a little difficult to say at the moment, but this year’s programme is shaping up to be very exciting!”

Generation ZX(X)

In 1993 the TIMEX Factory in Dundee closed its gates after more than 7 months of painful strikes. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of this departure from Dundee, a timely moment to look back and reconsider its impact on the city.

TIMEX is still remembered for those bitter last months rather than the near five decades of economic growth and activity. In the 80’s, on the TIMEX assembly lines, the ZX 81 and the ZX Spectrum computers were manufactured. The ZX Spectrum made its way into the houses of Dundee, its capacity to be programmed eventually gave rise to the phenomenon known as bedroom coding.

Despite the fact that it was the women of TIMEX who worked on the assembly lines, building and testing the computers, it was their sons and husbands who learned how to work them: the vast majority of early game developers were men. The event is a thank you, from our generation to the ladies of TIMEX, who through their labor, and often unaware of their contribution, gave Dundee a new future: the video game industry.

The event brings together performance, historical accounts, video and arcade games, and live music.

The title draws attention to three core aspects surrounding the TIMEX factory in Dundee: the gender dynamics (the vast majority of the assembly line workers were women whereas the vast majority of early coders and game makers were men), the heritage of the ZX Spectrum (the manufacturing of the ZX Spectrum in Dundee contributed to the city’s strong video game industry and education), and its contribution to the rise of the technology-savvy generation Z (Abertay’s video games courses are the first and one of the best programmes in the world).

Event date: 4th May, 2018

Event time: 8PM-10:30PM

Event Location: Camperdown Park. Event starts with registration at 7:30 in front of Camperdown House.

The event is free but ticketed. Tickets available here


The project would not be possible without the help and support of:

NEoN Digital Arts Festival, Creative Scotland, Weave by Abertay, Abertay Game Lab, Abertay University, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Laura Bissell, Alistair MacDonald, Dundee City Council, JTC Furniture Group, We Throw Switches, TIMEX History Group, Charlie Malone, Alice Marra and Loadsaweeminsinging, John Gray (Public Art) – Dundee City Council, Douglas Community Centre and Library Communities Department – Dundee City Council, Dighty Connect’s Mosaic Group, John Carnegie and Alan Spence, Hot Chocolate Trust, The Dundee Rep, The DC Thomson Archives, Dundee City Council – Dundee’s Art Galleries and Museums, STV, Paul Farley, Douglas Hare, Danny Parker, Philip and Andrew Oliver, Mike Dailly, Chris van der Kuyl, Erin Stevenson, Robin Sloan, Lynn Parker and all the lovely ladies who shared their stories with me.

Creative Team

Mona Bozdog, Clare Brennan, Susie Buchan, Robert Clark, Dan Faichney, Dayna Galloway, Robin Griffiths, Kayleigh MacLeod, Alice Marra, Niall Moody

Projection Art: Robin Griffiths

Breaking Through the Frame Development: Niall Moody, Kayleigh MacLeod

Assembly and She-Town Development: Retrospect

Joy Ajuong,  Marc Philippe Beaujean,  Robert Clark,  Sean Connaghan,  Courtney Kirk, Phillip McCafferty, Cara Pearson, Jordan Ross

Paint It Loud & Clear

Come along to our sign making workshop in Douglas Community Centre on Thursday 5th April from 1 – 4pm! In this workshop you will be creating big colourful signs for a large performance event, Generation ZX(X), happening on Friday 4th May 2018.

Join us to create signs that reflect on Dundee as you see it and how it has come to be the exciting and ever-changing place that it is today. Whether you are celebrating the strong women in your life and throughout history, imagining your vision for the city’s future or realising what Dundee means to you, we want you to paint it LOUD and CLEAR! These bold visual signs will simultaneously reflect on Dundee’s past and look forward to a hopeful future.

2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the TIMEX Factory closing in Dundee. Amongst many other things, the factory produced one of the first ever home computers – the ZX Spectrum. The assembly lines were predominantly made up of Dundee women.

This anniversary provides a timely moment to look back and reconsider the factory’s impact on the city, and to thank the ladies of TIMEX, who through their labour, and often unaware of their contribution, gave Dundee a new future: the video game industry.

For more information

Embroidered Digital Commons

Workshops with Ele Carpenter
10th – 11th March 2018, 12pm – 4pm
Wellgate Shopping Centre, 1st Floor next to Iceland

A pop-up event by NEoN Digital Arts Festival

NEoN invites you along to a special embroidery workshop to be part of an exciting global project – Embroidered Digital Commons. This project has already brought together embroideries by over 1,000 people stitching over 4,500 words… and now you can be part of it too!

The project is based on the beautifully crafted language of the  Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons  written by the Raqs Media Collective, and published in the Sarai Reader 2003. The full lexicon is an A-Z of the interrelationship between social, digital and material space. It weaves together an evolving metaphorical language of the commons which is both poetic and informative.

The ‘Embroidered Digital Commons’ facilitated by Ele Carpenter as part of the Open Source Embroidery project, utilising social and digital connectivity. This distributed embroidery aims to collectively stitch terms from the Lexicon as a practical way of close-reading and discussing the text and it’s current meaning.

At the workshops you can choose a section of text to embroider, stitch with others, have a cuppa and chat to Ele about the project. Your level of experience doesn’t matter, we welcome everyone! Also, as Sunday 11th is Mother’s Day it would be great to see some cross-generational groups come and  take part.  

Materials will be provided but feel free to bring along your own if you want to add a personal touch to your piece! The best fabric to stitch on is plain cotton fabric of any colour using embroidery thread that contrasts with the fabric.

With special thanks to Creative Scotland, Abertay University, University of Dundee and Wellgate Shopping Centre.


Image by Ele Carpenter

A little more information about the project…

The Embroidered Digital Commons is a collective close-reading and close-stitching of a text written by Raqs Media Collective called ‘A Concise Lexicon of / for the Digital Commons’ (2003). The full lexicon is an A-Z of the relationship between social, digital and material space. The lexicon weaves together an evolving metaphorical language of common ownership, use and access across digital platforms. The commons has become synonymous with digital media through the discourse of free and open source software, shared production of knowledge, open access, and creative commons. The digital commons is a response to the inherent ‘copy n paste’ reproducibility of digital codes, scripts, and files and the cultural forms they support.

The project began in 2008 as part of the Open Source Embroidery project facilitated by Ele Carpenter.

Check out the website to see examples of past stitched texts and get some inspiration for your embroidery:  Embroidered Digital Commons ____________________________________________________________________

Here is the text we will be stitching:

‘Journal: A record of the everyday. Annals of matters varied and quotidian. Data from day to day to day. On reams or scraps of any material that can carry the emboss of time. The material may vary from newsprint to video to sound to binary code, or a combination of the same, and the journal may transmogrify from being a witness, to a participant in that which is being recorded. The extent and scale of ‘participation’ depends on the frequency of entries into the journal, and the number of correspondents it can muster. The higher the frequency of entries or number of correspondents, the greater is the intensity of the inscription of a time on a journal. A densely, thickly inscribed journal is one that is usually open access in terms of writing, reading and publishing. Why else would strangers want to write in? An open journal expects to be published anywhere at all. An open journal actively practices xenophilly. When a journal becomes more than a gazetteer of a moment it turns into a history. It then begins to make sense of itself as much as it does about a time that it spans. Conversely, every history begins life as a journal.’