S+T+ARTS4WATERII—Ports in Transformation
Call for Artists


The second edition of the S+T+ARTS Residency Program is dedicated to water sustainability and innovation at the nexus of science, technology, and the arts. This time, the program focuses on the environmental challenges of ports, port cities, coastal areas, and waterways. TBA21 is organizing and hosting three residencies delving into the interconnected ecosystem of the Venice Lagoon, exploring its liminal spaces, metabolisms, and the potential of new technologies for different forms of alliance with its human and more-than-human inhabitants.
What are the residencies?
S+T+ARTS4WATERII will support selected artists through a program that includes a 9-month residency starting in September 2024, as well as multiple exhibitions and events during the residency period and thereafter until November 2025.  

The duration of each residency is 9 months (9-month residency + 2-month outreach) and includes 5 phases: reflection phase, development phase, evaluation phase, production phase, and exhibition phase.

Artists will receive support in the form of knowledge, tools, and data resources provided by TBA21–Academy and the LEGs (including members from KDM, German Marine Research, Ca'Foscari University, CNR-ISMAR, Onassis Foundation, Venice International University). Some may include ETT Solutions’ data sources and frameworks like EMODnet Physics, EMODnet Chemistry, Blue-Cloud 2026, and others.

Selected artists are required to engage with the physical and digital ecosystems of the Venice Lagoon and Ocean-Archive.org (including ocean comm/uni/ty and OCEAN / UNI). This includes a minimum of two months stay in Venice between October 2024 and February 2025. In October and February, the artists will be required to spend two weeks meeting other artists and researching local contexts.

The artist is expected to deliver a creative outcome to be presented at the Festival hosted in June 2025 at Ocean Space as part of the S+T+ARTS4WaterII consortium program. The artist will regularly engage with the TBA21 team, undertake mentoring by the digital team, and participate in educational activities in collaboration with the Ocean Space educational team, S+T+ARTS Academy events, as well as other opportunities that may arise from the consortium activities. Works might potentially be featured at Ars Electronica 2025, the UN Ocean Conference a/o the Love Tomorrow Conference. The artist is further invited to the 4WATERII summer school in Croatia.
liminal spaces, radical futurism, more-than-human underwater ecosystems investigative aesthetics
Related innovation areas: port infrastructures, eco-social crisis

The Venice Lagoon faces significant challenges related to its liminal spaces, particularly
port areas and their infrastructure, such as environmental degradation that affects water
quality and marine habitats. Technodiversity encourages the development of alternative
technologies that respect cultural and biological diversity. How can speculative practices
reimagine the future of these spaces?

Venice embodies an interdependency of nature and humans shaped by political
decisions and technological advancement that turned the Venice Lagoon into a cyborg.
Ports represent the liminal spaces of global shipping and trade and act as the
gatekeepers of planetary logistics. As digital technologies have expanded human
imagination and at the same time accelerated their own homogenization, how can
technodiversity be used as a strategy against technological colonialism, as a tool for
critical investigation, narrativization, and re-imagination of the hidden layers of complex

We invite creative practitioners to search for the ghosts and hidden layers within
maritime infrastructures and their relation to the more-than-human ecosystems.
Community engagement and interdisciplinary collaboration are integral to the proposed
project: we encourage applicants to consider how their projects might interact with
communities, policymakers, and other stakeholders to envision the long-term impact of
their work on the sustainable futures of the lagoon.

metabolism, reciprocity, conviviality, energy matter
Related innovation areas: bio hacking, open-source synthetic alternatives, AI enhanced food

Ports intervene in the processes of food production and distribution, the crafts of cooking
and eating, and waste management, as integral elements of the metabolism of the
Venice Lagoon. Whether the exchanges happen consciously or by chance, food registers
the interdependencies between human bodies and the planetary state. Observing its
convivial conversations may inspire notions of interspecies alliances and cooperation.

The activity of ports has an essential influence on our everyday meals. For centuries, its
intense activities indicated trade routes and portrayed economic positions. Nowadays,
the sustainability of port activities reveals the interdependencies between human bodies
and the planetary body at large. The crucial role of food for life provides a unique scope
to interrogate the metabolic cycles on which the food supply depends.

Observing ports as metabolic bodies able to process the arrival of new species and
ingredients can enhance interspecies alliances. Salt built a golden economy for the
Venetian Republic as the primary traded good, enhancing the process of circularity that
continues today. For example, the arrival of the Atlantic blue crab through ballast water
has influenced the ecosystem, raising ecological concerns as well as troubling
conversations about “invasive species.” What if conviviality occurs prior to human
interactions at a table? What if the engrained aspects of sharing a meal, the joy, the
enhancing sense of taste and smell, may reintroduce modes of encounters centreing
cooperation all along the way: in the waters, in the ports, and at the table?


Keywords: citizenship, multiple agencies, traditional orders, decentralization
Related innovation areas: governances: rights of nature, rights of more-than-human, rights of animals, future of oceans

Ports are places of socio-cultural exchange. Yet, over the past decades, the processes of
containerization and logistical integration have isolated them from citizen governance
bodies. Imagining the future of the ocean requires cooperation between more-than-
human life, the citizens, and the economic activities on the shores. Technological forms
of decentralization can endorse a new alliance of governance based on reciprocity.

In recent years, plans for the preservation of water ecosystems have mobilized various
governance pathways to consider the ecosystem's own agency, multiplicity, and
entanglements. These strategies include revisiting cosmological visions and ancestral
knowledge, animal conservation frameworks, and the notion of the rights of nature—the
Mar Menor in Spain being the first case in Europe. Even within the dispute in the field of
law of the best approach to deploy an inherited liberal system, these efforts aspire to
create a framework that respects more-than-human life and understands that a
sustainable future is not thinkable without targeting ecological justice as well.

The historic governance of Venice's canals reveals key principles of a traditional
understanding of water agency. Current research and activist movements in the region
are reviving historical social and legal orders that constitute respectful and caring
cooperation, as well as exploring the possibilities of the newly gained subjecthood
cases in Europe. How can we extend these effects to broader society?

For each challenge, we welcome proposals with a situated understanding of Venice and its ecosystem from an interspecies perspective, approaching aquatic ecosystems through artistic and practice-based research with nurturing visions of fair and sustainable futures. We encourage proposals that deploy technologies with ecocritical approaches towards technodiversity.

Learn more about the challenges HERE.
Learn more about how to apply HERE.

Organized by TBA21–Academy with the support of STARTS4WATERII, an initiative by the European Commission, and Konsortium Deutsche Meeresforschung (KDM), Scientific Partner, with the collaboration of Ca’ Foscari, CNR-ISMAR, ETT, Onassis Foundation (ARIONA), and Venice International University.
About S+T+ARTS
S+T+ARTS is an initiative of the European Commission to foster alliances between science, technology and the arts, in order to cultivate technological innovation centered on human needs and values.

S+T+ARTS4WaterII–Ports in Transformation is dedicated to tackling the complex environmental and societal challenges present in Europe’s ports and port cities.