This is a call for online artworks, projects or papers that explore the themes of Solar Protocol.

(THE INTERNET | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2022) — Mozilla awardee Solar Protocol is seeking artists and writers who are exploring topics like solar-powered computation and community-run networks.

A 2022 Creative Media Award recipient, Solar Protocol is a network of solar-powered, open-source web servers. The network directs traffic based on available solar energy — whichever server location is receiving the most sunshine at a given point in time is prioritized. Current servers are hosted in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and Kenya.

Now, the Solar Protocol team wishes to support online artworks or texts that explore the core themes of the project. Grantees will be awarded up to $1,500 each, and will participate in an exhibition in March 2023. Submissions are due 4 December via this application form.

Says Tega Brain, an Australian artist and co-creator of Solar Protocol: “We want to support online artworks or critical and creative texts exploring the themes of Solar Protocol, in order to build awareness and understanding of topics like community-run, planetary-scale computing.”

Projects can be new or existing; must be html (+css and/or javascript) websites; and might respond to the energy data generated across the network that can be accessed via Solar Protocol’s API.

Awards will be granted as follows:

  • $1,000-1,500 artist fee for the development of a new work
  • $200 exhibition fee for the exhibition of existing work
  • $1,000 honorarium for a new text (2,000-4,000 words)
  • $200 honorarium for republishing an existing text.

Potential themes include:

Design and exploration with diverse forms of intelligence that go beyond existing forms of AI. The history of AI has been characterized by shifting definitions of what counts as intelligence, however since the Enlightenment these have been dominated by human, statistical and machine driven perspectives. What should count as intelligence? In Solar Protocol, decisions in infrastructure are automated according to environmental limits and logics rather than those derived from statistical models and historic datasets. The decision about which server to use to serve the website is made by the sun rather than by a model or by a human. So the environment itself is positioned as an intelligent agent. How else might environmental limits and logics be explored as intelligence?

Low-carbon cultural practices. How can we do cultural and artistic work in low carbon ways? What are aesthetic forms that explore data/energy limits provide productive and generative creative constraints. What tools could or should exist for low energy environments or to support low carbon work? What might a low carbon, low data or low energy social network look like?

The qualities, characteristics and politics of coupling technologies with the sun, solar-power and solar-powered computation. We are interested in philosophical, ethical and existential perspectives on intermittency, the cyclical nature (daily and annual) of solar energy and on time as a system of experiencing the rotation of the earth.

Energy-centered design. How do we move from UX to EX, or from user experience to energy experience? What does UX and web design look like when it is engaged with its environmental conditions?

The care, labor and maintenance required to keep infrastructure working. Our servers often go down due to stewards needing to move house, connectivity issues, changes in ISPs, water leaks and so forth. What does it take to keep websites up?

Planetary scale participatory practice. We are interested in reflections or experiments in networked collaboration; this could include connecting with or working with a server steward.

Politics of decentralized, DIY networks.

To learn more, see guides about developing projects for the Solar Protocol platform, read the full call for projects and texts, or attend the Q and A session on Friday November 18th 12.30–1.30EST.