[spectre 2013 Subtle Technologies Call for Submissions on


In 2013, Subtle Technologies will be holding its 16th Annual Festival in


Our symposium, performances, workshops, screenings, exhibitions and

networking sessions provide a forum to explore ideas and pose questions

at the intersection of art, science and technology. Subtle Technologies

is known internationally for presenting artists and scientists whose

work is at the leading edge of their respective disciplines and creating

a space for dialogue that will lead to future discussions and


Our 2013 festival takes place on June 8th and 9th at various venues

throughout Toronto. In 2013 we will be exploring the theme of

Immortality. Through history, concepts of immortality have had an

important place in virtually all spiritual and philosophical traditions.

As we have with past festival themes, we will be exploring this year’s

theme from a broad perspective bridging art, science and society. We

encourage and welcome submissions that explore ideas of immortality that

arise from outside the Western framework. There are a number of areas

related to immortality that we would like to probe during this year’s


The average life expectancy continues to climb in many parts of the

world and there are those who believe we can and should push this

threshold ever higher. While many see physical life extension as the

route to immortality, there are others who believe immortality can be

achieved by merely preserving an individual’s consciousness, through

either biological or digital means. If consciousness could be digitally

represented, could a person “live” forever in a virtual world? We want

to look at the science behind life extension as well as the numerous

philosophical, ethical, practical and social questions that arise. These

sciences include the realms of cyborgs, life extension through

pharmacological means, cryogenic preservation and ideas surrounding the

collection of an individual’s connectome – the complete mapping and

re-creation of a brain’s electrical structure.

There are many online sites that act as digital memorials of deceased

individuals. Facebook, for example, has created a special setting for

memorializing deceased Facebook users, while protecting sensitive

information to prevent identity fraud. People continue to send messages

as if the deceased was still alive. What role does our online digital

identity play in immortalizing us? How can we envision avatars in

online worlds such as Second Life bringing us closer to a form of


Scientists now have the knowledge to design new lifeforms through

techniques in synthetic biology. What questions arise, now that

creating life (once believed to be the role of immortal beings) is in

the hands of modern science?

It has been said that creating art immortalizes the artist. While many

paintings, drawings, musical scores and works of literature have lasted

through centuries, how will the digital artist be remembered as

technology advances and digital platforms change? We see the question of

preservation as an important topic in our discussion of immortality. If

we can’t achieve individual immortality, how do we achieve it

collectively? We would like to look at projects by artists and

scientists that seek to archive art, history, society and experiences

through constructing time capsules, objects, techniques and technologies

that withstand the destructive powers of time and the environment.

Immortality can also be explored through abstract ideas of time and

modern physics. There are a number of contemporary physicists who

theorize that time as we experience it is an illusion. If so, how do we

define immortality with these new understandings of time since extending

our time on earth is seen as a key component of immortality? Alternative

concepts of time can be found not only in contemporary physics but also

in ancient cultures and traditions outside of the euro-centric

perspectives of science. Some theories of modern cosmology and physics

present us with the idea that we may be living in a world that is not

“real” but merely a simulation. How do we frame these theories in terms

of immortality?

At our 2013 festival we hope to examine the science behind the above

questions as well as artists’ interpretations and responses to notions

of immortality.

Possible areas to be explored in this year’s Festival from either an

artistic or scientific approach include:

*    Art and Immortality

*    Avatars

*    Bioethics

*    Bioart

*    Consciousness

*    Cryonics

*    Digital Immortality

*    Genomics

*    Life Extension

*    Longevity Science

*    Mind Uploading

*    Nanotechnology

*    Neuroscience

*    Pharmacology

*    Philosophy

*    Physics

*    Rejuvenation

*    Robotics

*    Science and Society

*    Singularity

*    Spiritual Immortality

*    Synthetic Biology

*    Transhumanism

*    Virtual Worlds

These topics are only suggested ones for inclusion in the festival.

Other relevant enquiries within the realm of art, science and technology

that explore our theme of immortality are welcome.

To have your submission considered for either the symposium, poster

session, exhibition, screenings or workshop, please complete the online

submission form here


Jim Ruxton

Director of Programs

Subtle Technologies Festival



Twitter: @SubtleTech