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Co-Commission Opportunity

Art Co-commission for the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research and NEoN Digital Arts Festival

The Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research brings together scientists from a broad range of disciplines to develop new potential drug molecules. This includes chemists, biologists, parasitologists, drug dynamics specialists and computational expertise. We are united by our desire to tackle the need for new medicines to help with diseases of the developing world. In particular, our work so far has focused on 2 diseases, both caused by parasites.  

Visceral leishmaniasis is spread by Sandfly bites and is most prevalent in the Indian subcontinent and parts of Africa. It causes significant organ damage and, untreated, can be fatal. It is particularly devastating when it affects people with HIV.

Chagas’ disease is naturally found in triatomines. These insects are commonly called “kissing bugs” due to the distinctive way they bite their victim around the mouth. Found in Central and Southern America, it is rarely diagnosed before it causes serious damage to internal organs, particularly the heart.

Both of these diseases affect the poorest people in their endemic areas. Current treatments are often ineffective and inefficient for patients to take.  We seek to revolutionise how people with these diseases are cared for.

During 2018 NEoN Digital Arts Festival will explore the theme ‘LIFESPANS’ envisioning the paths of so-called ‘digital natives’, those born into an Internet and digitally-enabled world. We’ll investigate how this affects our perception of lifespans – considering both our socio-digital lives online and our real-world lives offline – as we face a technologically-enhanced future. Artists play a role in reimagining what it means to be human in the digital age. Access to Internet-connected devices, self-designed infrastructure, and customised genetically targeted medicine will change our global futures. New technologies not only inform scientific research to tackle disease, but also may themselves potentially extend our lifespans. NEoN wishes to highlight the work of artists who challenge and celebrate ideas of time, transmission, generation, and the here and now.

The work could take a variety of web-based and networked forms including being participatory or interactive. Whatever the output, it must be digital and exhibitable online. We are interested in works that explore ideas of design, of possible futures (thought experiments) or are data-driven/illustrative. There is a possibility to work with scientists from one or more of WCAIR’s areas of expertise.

The commission will be launched online at part of NEoN Digital Arts Festival 2018. It is intended that it could also be included in WCAIR’s planned exhibition in Spring-Summer 2019 at LifeSpace Science Art Research Gallery, coinciding with the Centre’s international scientific conference. There is potential for the work to be exhibited at future events as WCAIR develops new international partners. The artist fee includes NEoN and WCAIR-organised exhibitions and presentations from November 2018 through April 2021, subject to agreement with the selected artist(s).

Deadline for submissions 20 July 2018
For exhibition beginning 7 November 2018
Artist Fee £2500
Exhibition and production costs, including travel, to be agreed with commissioners up to £2000


Open Call announced 19 June
Deadline 20 July
24-27 July – follow up conversations where necessary (by email/phone)
1 August – decision made, artists informed and announced
3 September – selected artist give progress report
1 October – selected artist to give second progress report including confirming details relating to the work’s launch/exhibition
7 November – Work launched at opening of NEoN Festival, Dundee. Possibility of artist to participate in symposium or workshops
Spring 2019 – Work exhibited at LifeSpace. Possibility for artist to present work to scientific conference delegates.

Submission Requirements
Submissions must include a proposal detailing:

  • Title
  • Name(s) of Creators
  • Artistic concept including relation to NEoN’s theme (250 words)
  • Note of relation to WCAIR research and ideas of which areas of science expertise are of interest, if appropriate
  • Installation details/Technical specification
  • Production Schedule
  • Description of risks involved in and support needed for production
  • Artistic statement/Prior work (250 words)
  • Supporting material – links, images, etc.
  • Contact details: email, phone, address.

Documents should be submitted as PDFs, or as links to a Google Doc or another easily read and easily accessed format.

If you have questions or enquiries about this commission please email Ali Floyd, WCAIR Public Engagement Manager, or Donna Holford-Lovell, Director at NEoN.

Please use the subject line “WCAIR NEoN Proposal”.


About the Partners 
The Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research, University of Dundee
We bring together researchers from a wide variety of backgrounds to address the urgent need for new medicines to fight diseases of the developing world.  This includes the expertise of the Drug Discovery Unit, where researchers from medicinal chemistry and biology backgrounds develop and explore new molecules.  It also unites parasitologists who study the diseases and scientists who investigate the modes of actions of potential target compounds. We also have a training programme, which aims to increase drug discovery capacity in disease-endemic countries.  

Finally, the Centre funding has allowed the development of a public engagement strand which aims to present our science to the public in innovative ways.  We are exploring theatre commissions, digital projects and the intersection of art and science as mediums for engaging our publics in Dundee, the rest of the UK and beyond.

NEoN (North East of North)
NEoN (North East of North) based in Dundee, Scotland aims to advance the understanding and accessibility of digital and technology driven art forms and to encourage high quality within the production of this medium. NEoN has organised 10 annual festivals to date including exhibitions, workshops, talks, conferences, live performances and public discussions. It is a platform to showcase national and international digital art forms. Driving the evolution of digital and technology drive arts, NEoN explores and redefines its relevance in today’s society. By bringing together emerging talent and well-established artists, with new audiences it aims to influence and reshape the genre. NEoN creates opportunities for collaboration and spontaneity and pushes beyond expectations. Its program of international and regional artistic exchanges aims to nurture the arts roots of the region whilst drawing in the arts world’s greatest talent in new ways as to give its audience an opportunity to explore some of today’s complex issues.

NEoN is supported by Creative Scotland  


Image: Mark Doyle, Circuit 1, Formation, 2015 courtesy the artist and ASCUS