STARTS Prize: Winners of 2022!

The two Grand Prizes of STARTS Prize 2022 were won by Holly Herndon (US) and Giulia Foscari (IT). They each receive 20.000 euros in the categories of Artistic Research and Innovative Collaboration. An international jury of Francesca Bria (IT), Andres Colmenares (CO/ES), Asako Tomura (JP), Lucía García (ES) and Alexander Mankowsky (DE) selected the two winners out of 1499 works from 96 different countries. 

The prestigious STARTS Prize is part of the long-term STARTS initiative of the European Commission. Awards are given to innovative projects at the interface of science, technology and art that have the potential to have a significant impact on economic and social innovation in Europe. Next to the price money, the works will be part of  a series of events organised by consortium partners Bozar, Waag, INOVA+, T6 Ecosystems, French Tech Grande Provence and the Frankfurt Book Fair.

STARTS events

The STARTS Prize will also be present at the European Robotics Forum from June 28-30 in Rotterdam with a STARTS Talk, a keynote talk and a workshop. Then, on July 1, the More-than-Planet expositie opens at Observatory Leiden with work from the STARTS Prize pool by Territorial Agency and Forensic Architecture. Or join the More-than-Planet symposium at the Old Observatory, in collaboration with STARTS Prize.

Grand Prize – Artistic Exploration: Holly+

Credit: Herndon Dryhurst Studio created with OpenAI DALL-E 2
Credit: Herndon Dryhurst Studio created with OpenAI DALL-E 2

With Holly+, artist Holly Herndon has created her digital twin that anyone can use to make music. Her “Holly+” instrument makes it possible to upload polyphonic audio to a website and receive a version of it sung in Holly’s voice – the latest version of “Holly+” even works in real time and can thus be used for performances.

“(…) a unique hybrid project […] merging a new custom voice instrument with a creative platform and a test of a decentralized and cooperative economic model that can have deep implications in changing the power dynamics of copyright and IP in the music industry, while raising questions of the interdependencies of a digital economy, digital sovereignty, and digital identity.” (Excerpt from the jury statement)

“Holly+” was developed by Herndon Dryhurst Studio, Never Before Heard Sounds (NYC) and Voctro Labs (Barcelona). The collaborative project combines machine learning, freely available online instruments and tools in a way that makes it possible for people to easily and quickly become creative themselves.

An alternative economic model
“Holly+” is embedded in a comprehensive art and research project that also explores economic aspects. Hundreds of people are part of the “Holly+ DAO” (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) and can have a say in Holly’s digital twin and how to use it appropriately. Once approved, any work created with her voice can be scrutinized for its public Holly+DAO identity. Any piece that is offensive or “inappropriate” can be rejected by the voting stewards.

70 works have been sold so far. All profits from the sale of approved works are split between the creator (50%), the DAO (40%) and Holly herself (10%). The money that goes to the DAO is used to further develop Holly+ and create new tools for people to experiment with. By experimenting with her own intellectual property, Holly Herndon wants to set a precedent that will help others navigate the dawning era of AI art.

Grand Prize - Innovative Collaboration: Antarctic Resolution

Antarctic Resolution
Publication of Antarctic Resolution

Giulia Foscari (IT) and UNLESS are awarded for their work Antarctic Resolution in the category Innovative Collaboration  between industry or technology and the arts that opens new pathways for innovation. 

“It opens up new perspectives and insights by leveraging the means and power of art as a research practice as well as a way to enable awareness and concern, participation and involvement.” (Excerpt from the jury statement)

Antarctica accounts for 10 percent of the land mass, 70 percent of the freshwater and 90 percent of the ice on planet Earth. It is the largest repository of scientific data on our climate history and thus an irreplaceable basis for important environmental policies. At the same time, it poses the greatest threat to coastal settlements around the world: if its huge ice masses melt, sea levels will rise to threatening heights.

Currently, the kilometer-thick ice sheet is melting at an alarming rate: 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools are pouring into the sea every minute. A complete melting of the Antarctic ice would cause sea levels worldwide to rise by 60 meters and trigger the largest migration movement ever experienced by mankind.

Credits: Courtesy of UNLESS, Photo: Louis De Belle
Credits: Courtesy of UNLESS, Photo: Louis De Belle

Intergenerational justice
Giulia Foscari / UNLESS created a 1000-page publication called 'Antarctic Resolution' jto raise awareness of Antarctica as one of our few global commons and to establish advocacy for the only continent without an indigenous population. Their message: protecting Antarctica means protecting our own species.

Giulia Foscari’s “Antarctic Resolution” is a transnational and multidisciplinary collaborative project and was published as a 1000-page volume to mark the bicentennial of the first recorded human arriving on the continent. The declaration was written by 150 leading Antarctic experts and published by Lars Müller Verlag. The encyclopedic publication focuses on the scientific potential of the continent, its current geopolitical significance and its extraordinary settlement model. The volume includes numerous scientific studies, photographic essays, data-driven infographics, cartographies, and architectural drawings.

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Tonya Sudiono

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 956603.