The VIDA Awards rank among the most important distinctions in the field of new media art. Created in 1999 by Fundación Telefónica, they are currently the only prizes dedicated to art and artificial life. Over the past 15 years, VIDA has consolidated its firm commitment to defining and developing new contemporary artistic practices in the context of technological, scientific, and cultural innovation. 

The VIDA 16.0 jury, consisting of international experts Honor Harger, Jose Carlos Mariátegui, Marina MacDougall, Mónica Bello, Nell Tenhaaf, Roger Malina, and Laura Fernández Orgaz, has selected the winners in the competition’s three categories: the Finished Project Prizes, the Incentives for Production Prizes, and, finally, the VIDA Pioneers Prize.

Finished Project Prizes

At VIDA 16.0, First Prize (12,000 euros) went to Computer Watching Movies, a project by U.S. artist Benjamin Grosser. This work invites us to rethink the reality inherited from the digital revolution and its social, cultural, and political implications. The author designed a computer vision system whose originality lies in the fact that it is applied to computer themselves rather than humans. In other words, while the system’s artificial intelligence watches selected clips from classic films like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Taxi Driver, a motley assortment of lines appear on the screen that map the places toward which the computer directs its gaze, synchronized with the original soundtrack. This slightly ironic project recalls the classic theories of machine consciousness in line with some of the earliest works to explore the convergence of art and artificial life.

Second Prize (10,000 euros) was awarded to The Iron Ring by Swedish artist Cecilia Jonsson. Her installation reflects on the tension between the underlying organic and inanimate matter in our environment. The author describes her project as a series of trials and errors, explored in close collaboration with the technicians, scientists, blacksmiths, and farmers she met in the course of her research. The aim was to collect up to 24 kg of grass in the vicinity of the Río Tinto mines in southern Spain that would yield enough iron to create a 2-gram ring. This complicated project illustrates the slippage across nature and technology as well as the environmental awareness present in today’s culture, an issue which the VIDA Awards have accurately reflected in recent years.

In this same award category, the jury of VIDA 16.0 granted a total of eight Honorable Mentions, one of which will be chosen to receive the People’s Choice Award. VIDA invites its followers to participate in the voting process via the PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD VOTING APP on FACEBOOK. This award, which comes with a cash prize of 6,000 euros, will be given to the project that receives the most votes between November 25 and December 5.

Incentives for Production Prizes

The Incentives for Production Prizes category, reserved for new artistic productions in Spain, Portugal, and Latin America, shines a spotlight on creative proposals that place technology at the service of social, cultural, and environmental causes. This year’s prize winners are artists Lot Amorós, Marcela Armas, Pedro Lopes, Michael Hurtado, Marcelo Coelho, and Tal Danino.

VIDA 16.0 marks the second year of the Telefónica R&D Incentives Prize, which offers winners a chance to develop their ideas with the support and assistance of the Telefónica R&D team in Barcelona in the year 2015. On this occasion, the jury selected the project Pulse by Marcelo Coelho and Tal Danino to receive this distinction. For VIDA this new prize represents the alliance of art, industry and technological innovation.

 VIDA Pioneers Prize

The VIDA Pioneers Prize was awarded for the first time in 2009 on the occasion of VIDA’s tenth anniversary. In 2014, coinciding with the 15th anniversary of the awards, this special prize with a purse of 12,000 euros is being granted for a second time, consolidating VIDA’s commitment to artists who have made an outstanding contribution to the recent history of new media art.

Today we are honored to announce that the Australian artist Natalie Jeremijenko has been chosen as the recipient of the second VIDA Pioneers Prize. The jury selected Jeremijenko from among over thirty candidates for her extraordinary ability to describe the hybrid context of today’s art, where the overlap between art, science, technology, and society acquires new attributes. In her work and research, she deciphers the social implications of ubiquitous technologies and offers concrete answers expressed in the language of science, design, and social innovation.

Natalie Jeremijenko is an artist, engineer, and inventor with a special interest in environmental and urban issues. Jeremijenko is currently an Associate Professor in the Visual Art Department at NYU (New York University). She is the founder and director of the xDesign Environmental Health Clinic at NYU, a clinic that prescribes solutions for urban environmental problems. Highlights of her career include solo shows at MASS MoCA, the Whitney Museum, and the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. A 1999 Rockefeller Fellow, Jeremijenko was named one of the 40 most influential designers by I.D. Magazine and one of the Top 100 Young Innovators by the MIT Technology Review.