STARTS Prize: Winners of 2021

Each year, together with Ars Electronica and BOZAR, we launch STARTS Prize as a part of the STARTS initiative by the European Commission. This initiative focuses on innovation at the nexus of Science, Technology, and the Arts. One element of this STARTS Initiative is a prestigious award generously endowed with € 20,000 in prize money. In two categories, which are Artistic Exploration and Innovative Collaboration, a project is selected. 

In the category Artistic Exploration, the project 'Oceans in transformation' by Territorial Agency (John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog) was awarded with a STARTS Prize. In the category Innovative Collaborations, the project 'Remix el Barrio' by Fab Lab Barcelona at IAAC won a STARTS Prize. 'Remix' is represented by the project team Anastasia Pistofidou, Marion Real and Milena Juarez Calvo. (Re)watch the STARTS Prize press conference via YouTube.

STARTS Prize Winner Innovative Collaborations: Remix el Barrio
The Fab Lab Barcelona team at IAAC is awarded for Remix el Barrio; Food Waste and Biomaterials Design, an exhibition that proposes a learning place that promotes and enables new practices based on neo-craftsmanship with food waste. The exhibition is the result of a pilot program, where various designers learn about biomaterial design and explore projects with food scraps using artisanal techniques and digital fabrication.

Photo: Fablab Barcelona
Photo: Fablab Barcelona

Fab Lab Barcelona's representant Anastasia Pistofidou is no stranger at Waag: she founded Fabricademy together with Waag’s fashion and textile designer Cecilia Raspanti. Fabricademy is a European network of Textile Labs that provides workshops in the field of digital fabrication, textiles and sustainable fashion. 

The project Remix el Barrio collaborated with and involved agents from the Poblenou neighborhood such as restaurants, urban gardens and neighborhood associations to promote a local circular economy ecosystem. Beyond the exhibition, Remix has transformed into a collective that experiences circularity, not only creating materials with olive pits, avocados, coffee peels, vegetable and fruit skins or restaurant waste, but also exploring collaboration, inclusiveness, self-management towards shared knowledge with local actors.

STARTS Prize winner Artistic Exploration: Oceans in Transformation
The project team Territorial Agency, by John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, is awarded for their project Oceans in Transformation. In this research project, TBA21–Academy and Territorial Agency collaborated to connect new forms of visibility and understanding of the ocean brought by science, culture, and art. Linking scientists, artists, policy makers, and conservationists by way of shared images, data sets, and narratives, the projects is structured as an instigation for new cognitive modes of encountering the ocean and a line towards attainable solutions. 

Multibeam sonar sounding of Reykjanes Ridge in the Atlantic Ocean. By Territorial Agency
Multibeam sonar sounding of Reykjanes Ridge in the Atlantic Ocean. By Territorial Agency

Oceans in Transformation assembles a variety of scientific datasets stemming from multiple research institutions to depict the magnitude of human impact on marine life. What emerges is a series of dynamic compositions that are disquieting and disorienting: the image of an empty ocean lingers on in many of us.

A series of trajectories explore the complex knowledge intersections of the transformation processes shaping the World-system and the Earth system. They are the basis for an extensive online public program that asks how we can sense and make sensible the multiple transformations of the oceans, strengthen our understanding of the oceans, form new collaborations, and move together to safeguard the oceans’ many life forms.

Also, check out the ten honorary mentions of STARTS Prize 2021

STARTS Prize 2021 nominations
Nineteen works were nominated for the STARTS Prize 2021. We would like to send out our special congratulations to Waag’s former artists in residence, Tomo Kihara and Saša Spačal. 

MycoMythologies:Patterning by Saša Spačal


MycoMythologies:Patterning is an installation which captures growing fungal landscape which is contaminated by the human microbiom – bacteria, fungi and archea derived from the blood, sweat and tears of the artist – with a microscope and analyzed by computer vision, rendered on three screens where they are mapped, sonified and collected into a database. The installation questions if we can see ourselves as entangled rather than sovereign, reflecting on contamination as productive exchange between different life forms.’ Get a closer look at the work at Spačal’s website.

TheirTube by Tomo Kihara


Algorithms keep us tightly in our own filter bubbles. For example: if you're skeptical about climate change, YouTube can recommend even more content denying climate change, confirming your bias. That’s why creative developer Tomo Kihara thought: what if you could step into someone else’s YouTube Bubble? That’s how TheirTube came into being. Kihara created six YouTube personas: Conspiracist, Climate Denier, Conservative, Liberal, Prepper and Fruitarian. Check out what they view on TheirTube.



ARS Electronica




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Vojext has received funding from the European Commission under the H2020-DT-ICT-03-2020 call under Grant Agreement number 952197.

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Better Factory has received funding from the European Commission under the H2020-DT-ICT-03-2020 call under Grant Agreement number 951813.

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S+T+ARTS Prize has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 956603.