NanoARTS – Art meets Nanoscience: CALL FOR PROPOSALS by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

Dates or Deadline: 
12 January 2022 to 3 February 2022
Organized by: 
Pro Helvetia

Optical microscopy image of the cuticle scales of a Pachyrrhynchus weevil © Kenza Djeghdi

The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Adolphe Merkle Institute (AMI) are looking for artists and scientists who are interested in collaborating, with the aim of stimulating exchanges between art, science and technology. The NanoARTS programme creates a space for new artistic approaches and explorative research practices by selecting and accompanying up to three tandems within a process of transdisciplinary and multi-perspective collaboration.

The organisers welcome joint applications from artists who wish to explore one of the areas of nanoscience described below in order to enrich their practice together with scientists from AMI who are looking to engage in transdisciplinary research practice.


The AMI strives to be a leader in fundamental and application-oriented interdisciplinary research on nanoscience, the infinitely small. The research at AMI combines fundamental and application-oriented aspects in a multidisciplinary setting.

For this pilot project, artists are invited to apply jointly with a scientist from AMI working on one of the following themes:

See the Touch: Polymer Chemistry and Materials

Biological processes such as cell-cell contacts, cell motility, or even haptic perception (touch) all rely on the conversion of mechanical stimuli into chemical energy. Building on this expertise of mechano-responsive polymers, new artistic research approaches can be envisioned. Polymers with unusual and previously unavailable functions, for example mechanical morphing, mechanically induced light generation, mechanically controlled cell growth, self-lubricating behavior, and the ability to release small molecules such as drugs, fragrances, and antiseptics, are to be incorporated into artistic processes.

Controlling Anatomies: Soft Matter Physics

The aim is to understand and reproduce structured materials found in nature as well as create nanomaterials with unusual properties and boost novel energy technologies such as solar cells, electrochromic displays, supercapacitors, and so on. To fully understand the optical properties of fauna and flora and relate them to their ultrastructural anatomy, a holistic spectroscopic characterization is required. Such an investigation allows to decipher the various components of tissues that contribute to optical responses.

In Vivo Technology: BioPhysics

The goal is to contribute to the molecular understanding of physical diseases, developing sensitive diagnostic assays and sensors, as well as characterizing individual protein molecules for applications in biomarker detection, routine protein analysis, personalized medicine, and proteomics. The research group is interested in engaging in artistic discourse related to advances in integrating technologies into living organisms, which requires electrical energy sources that are biocompatible, mechanically flexible, and can utilize the chemical energy present in biological systems.

Interactive Biology: BioNanomaterials

This research group explores fundamental interactions of nanomaterials with their environments, including cells and tissues, consumer products, and food. By developing robust materials and novel analytical methods, this research group determines essential material qualities that are pertinent at the nanoscale, which are relevant for hazard assessment and for biomedical applications, for instance, when bioprinting tissue. Part of the research is the development of a reproducible human omentum model using 3D bioprinting technology that enables spatially controlled deposition of cells and biomaterials in an automated process. Learn more about BioNanomaterials here.

Please note that artists must meet the following criteria (!!!!!):

  • Convincing track record of professional artistic practice
  • Holding Swiss citizenship or active in the Swiss art scene
  • Active in any of the disciplines supported by Pro Helvetia (Design, Interactive Media, Literature, Music, Performing Arts, Visual Arts)
  • Applicants should be fluent in English

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