Abandon Normal Devices (AND) and Somerset House Studios are excited to work together in commissioning a new live audio-visual performance responding to the site and themes of AND Festival 2020.

This resulting work will be a flagship AND Festival 2020 commission presented as part of an evening programme of audio-visual performances in May 2020 and will also be presented at Somerset House Studios in London as part of a programme exploring image, sound and digital art in June 2020.

Deadline Wednesday 11 December 2019 at midday.

Somerset House Studios and Abandon Normal Devices share a joint ambition to support experimental work across disciplines, and to connect a network of artists beyond the duration of any residency or festival. Together we co-commissioned Taut Line, a multi-channel sound installation created by electronic composer and artist Beatrice Dillon in a residency in Peak Cavern during AND Festival 2017 which was reimagined for the Deadhouse at Somerset House later that year.

Abandon Normal Devices’ festival of new cinema, digital culture and art, and the UK’s only roaming digital festival, takes to the water for the 9th edition, exploring the global trade gateway of the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey. AND Festival 2020 will transform waterways, ports and docklands into temporary autonomous creative zones, unfolding along the water’s edge at sites in Merseyside and Cheshire (UK). AND Festival 2020 will feature 4 days of unusual and unexpected experiences – immersive installations, augmented reality seascapes, virtual environments, floating experiments and immersive field trips – on boats, docks and ports.

Opened in 1894 the 36mile long Manchester Ship Canal is an engineering wonder which has connected the North’s industrial heartland for 125 years through the mouth of the River Mersey and into the Irish sea. Observing the flows from oil refineries; recycling plants, wind farms and agriculture from these ports to sites across the world, AND Festival 2020 will bring into focus these global trade infrastructures that are largely hidden from sight. In May 2020 AND will stage sound and visual events in the industrial landscape of the River Mersey, exploring the rich themes of the site related to water, industry, global trade and the intersection between climate change and feminism. AND Festival 2020 seek to reclaim what are traditionally considered masculine representations of large industrial infrastructure, and in a time of urgent politics enable prophetic glimpses of what is to come.

This opportunity is open to women and non-binary artist/s of all ages, at any point in their career, and is open to international applicants.

It is envisioned as a short residency on-site at an agreed time between January and May 2020. In case required, please note only one return flight can be covered in this period of travelling internationally.

The nature of the commission means it is anticipated the artist/s will have begun work on the project before arriving to the site and must be capable of delivering a live audio- visual performance within the timeframe allocated.

Collaborations are welcome, but please note for international applicants, only one UK return flight from outside Europe can be provided. 

Both new projects and projects in development but not yet completed are eligible. Candidates will be selected based on the strength of their project as well as their ability to deliver, and a demonstration that the opportunity will be beneficial. The panel will consist of members of the Abandon Normal Devices and Somerset House Studios teams.


  • Artist fee £3000
  • Production budget £3000
  • A short residency on-site at an agreed time between January and May 2020, introducing the artist/s to the commission context and Merseyside site. Access can be provided to local film archives including National Waterways Museum (Ellesmere Port), as well as being directed to resources of live, open-source environmental and shipping data.
  • Return travel to UK (if applicable) and travel to Merseyside for AND residency and performance, including shared accommodation on site, access to recording studio and transport.
  • Travel to London for Somerset House Studios performance, accommodation included
  • Access to studio space and recording studio at Somerset House Studios in London (if required)
  • Support of Abandon Normal Devices Producer and technical team and Somerset House Studios Producer 
  • In case required, please note only one return flight can be covered in the periods of travelling internationally.


11 December - Deadline (12pm / midday)
11-13 December - Panel Selection
16 December - Artists contacted
19 December - Interviews
January - Commission awarded
February - AND site visit
                          Final concept agreed
                          AND Festival programme announced
March - May - Development and production
14-17 May - AND Festival dates – performance premiere
June (dates TBC) - Performance at Somerset House Studios in London


For AND Festival 2020
The commission will have a significant sound or music element along with visuals, and it must be possible for the work to be performed live within a site-specific context for a minimum duration of 45 minutes at a chosen site as part of AND Festival 2020.

For Somerset House Studios
The commission will be performed as part of a programme exploring image, sound and digital art and will be programmed as a headline performance as part of this wider programme.

Artist’s proposal
The artist should submit a response to this brief outlining their interest in responding to the themes and concepts. The artist will set out an initial proposed methodology for, and any track record of, creative practice that responds to site.

The response will need to include:

  • A written statement outlining ideas, research and any key creative concepts associated with responding to industrial landscapes and spaces
  • Visualisations of work which clearly speak to any initial concepts, including where appropriate information on possible form, appearance and materials that might be used
  • A draft budget outlining anticipated costings and approach for production
  • This information should be submitted in PDF format and uploaded when completing the application form (file size no larger than 2MB).

Submission & Enquiries
For any further information please get in touch with Leonara Manyangadze (Leonara.manyangadze@somersethouse.org.uk)

About AND
Abandon Normal Devices
(AND) is a nomadic commissioner and born-digital producer, a catalyst for new approaches to art-making and digital invention. We create ground-breaking projects which challenge the definitions of art and moving image with a distinct emphasis on creative enquiry and provocations.

AND brings together an eclectic mix of academics, filmmakers, scientists and anarchists to actively push the boundaries of audience experience and arts production. Inviting artists to hijack the imagination, by developing projects which abandon traditional settings and partnerships.

Proposing a significant shift in the way art is experienced, the AND portfolio consists of site-specific film happenings, exhibitions, performances, online projects, residencies, public realm interventions and a roaming biennial festival. Audiences are invited to interact with bold ideas, encounter new art-forms and experience art, in the everyday and in unexpected locations.

AND was established in 2009, as a unique partnership between Cornerhouse (now HOME Mcr), FACT and folly. AND is funded by Arts Council England.

About Somerset House Studios
Somerset House Studios is an experimental workspace in the centre of London connecting artists, designers and thinkers with audiences. The Studios are a platform for the development of new creative projects and collaboration, promoting work that pushes bold ideas, engages with urgent issues and pioneers new technologies.

Over 80 resident artists are supported to develop their practice inside the refurbished spaces of the former Inland Revenue building, responding to the changing ways in which artists are working and the acute rent increases in the capital.

Residents include Christian Marclay, Gaika, Beatrice Dillon and Project O. Somerset House Studios builds on the success of recent projects such as PJ Harvey: Recording In Progress, Big Bang Data and Björk Digital in redefining the cultural centre as a place where cross-disciplinary work is imagined, made and presented