Touch the Universe: Astrophysics/astronomy and Art

  • Location: Beijing/Hybrid
  • Deadline: Nov 10 2023 at 12:00PM

"Touch the Universe" is an interdisciplinary residency project in China that focuses on astrophysics/astronomy and art. It is hosted by the Department of Astronomy at Tsinghua University and co-founded by art and science curator Iris Long. The mission is to bridge the disciplines of astrophysics and humanities/art, seeking common ground for creative, speculative, and philosophical aspects, promoting interdisciplinary dialogue, and opening up to practitioners from fields such as art, design, and science fiction.

The residency project will develop around scientific and engineering projects led by the Department of Astronomy at Tsinghua University. It will explore how current astronomy/astrophysics research at different scales can create encounters with the universe and raise a series of fundamental questions related to astronomy, astrophysics, philosophy of science, and contemporary life. As an interdisciplinary research project, "Touch the Universe" not only focuses on conveying cutting-edge astronomical knowledge but also delves into the everyday work behind abstract models and data in astronomy, In addition, the project explores how astronomy, as a middle ground, relates to precision instruments, space exploration, and everyday technologies. It also seeks to collaboratively explore what our shared concerns and care are when we discuss the universe.

"Touch the Universe" is centered around a hybrid residency work carried out at the Department of Astronomy at Tsinghua University. It invites researchers in the fields of history of science, philosophy of technology, and science and technology studies (STS) to participate in the residency phase as visiting scholars or advisors. The first residency phase is planned to commence in December 2023.

Key subjects include and are not limited to:

Triple-Scale Universe: from large-scale universe to galaxy scale and "second earth", what shifts have occurred in the questions that have surrounded the notion of "universe", limited and limitless, empirical and speculative, descriptive and observational, in the present day?  How do advances in the study of the universe at these three scales provide a coordinate system for contemplating our own existence and destiny?

Starting from Astronomy:  How can we view the history of astronomy and cosmology from a non-isolated perspective and place it within a more complex spectrum of technology? 

Data-Driven Astronomy: What is the relationship between "data" and scientific discoveries? Besides objective processes such as measurement, processing, analysis, and feature extraction, what knowledge and experience enter into data-driven scientific processes? How do we understand these intangible and indirectly visible objects? What is the relationship between "theorized existence" and "discovered existence"?


Research Support

The residency project will invite residents to participate in on-site/online research through bi-weekly meetings, project sharing sessions, and other mechanisms that focus on and do not disrupt daily scientific research. Lectures, information sharing, and discussions will promote the exchange of ideas between creators and scientists.


Artwork Production Support

The project team will provide project production grants of up to 30,000 RMB for individual artworks. *For those whose projects are not selected, we also welcome you to join the "Touch the Universe" talent network. We will create opportunities for communication, dialogue, and sharing through online means.


We Look For

Artists, designers, architects, cultural researchers, science fiction writers with a certain level of interdisciplinary research and creative experience, and a basic understanding of the language of science, especially astronomy.


Application Documents

1. Personal Resume.

2. Personal Portfolio (in PDF format, file size not exceeding 30MB, if you have video works, please include links within the PDF).

3. Residency Proposal (including but not limited to themes of the work, preliminary concepts, research and collaboration needs, basic budget, etc.).

*We understand that the project may evolve as the residency progresses, and the residency proposal used for the application primarily helps us better understand the applicant's creative perspective and relevant experience.


How to Apply

From now until 10th November 2023, before 12:00 PM Beijing time, please submit your application materials via email to: [[email protected]] and [[email protected]]. Please indicate "Touch the Universe Project + Applicant Name" in the email subject line. Please submit application documents as email attachments rather than pasting web links in the email directly. Also, avoid using email addresses that may automatically bounce back.