Open Call: Ageing companions / Geprogrammeerde veroudering / Les cyborgs vieillissants

The lifecycles of different species are linked via electronic circuits with limited lifespan: accessories that measure biorhythms or monitor the growth-rate of specimens; interactive medical implants, networked pacemakers or wireless defibrillators are an everyday reality. As minerals, plants, animals, people and machines wear out, the technologies they carry and/or are part of, age as well. Their batteries might be empty, their computer chips break down or remote monitors can no longer handle the latest update. The ageing processes of biological and technological merge and it is not always so clear whether we are faced with physical or programmed obsolescence.

Under the influence of medicalisation, miniaturisation and algorithmic optimization, the prolongation of life seems to be a tech-only challenge without limits. Calibrated on the basis of constantly updating data flows, we become-older-together regardless of who or what has access, where we will stay all this time and how long we will last. Meanwhile, we generate dumping sites full of leaking bits and bytes, excess chargers and broken components. The associated ageing of bodies and devices takes place simultaneously in microseconds and in geological time, both on nano- and global scale. While tools innovate and flesh declines, faltering devices keep promising eternal youth.

During the worksession Ageing companions, we will work on the interconnected lifespan of both technology and bodies. How do ageing bodies keep each other and their technological partners company? How do they give an account of their generational specificities? Can we develop ecosystems that transcend time and scale in solidarity? Are bodyparts and extensions imaginable beyond the expiration date of concepts like The Internet of Things and The Quantified Self? How does ageism affect the "new" in so-called new technologies? What would it mean to engage in wild and mutual life-long learning?

Worksessions are intensive transdisciplinary moments that Constant organises twice a year. We create a temporary working environment where participants can link their different types of expertise in order to develop ideas and research projects together. We prefer to use Free, Libre and Open Source software and data available under an open license. Language: English, with inserts in Dutch and French.

Participants of all ages are welcome to apply. They have diverse backgrounds, disciplines and ages. We are looking for example for critical gerontologists, data feminists, reflective self-quantifiers, artists who work with wearables (who wears what?), sensors (who feels who?), micro-controllers (who controls what?).

During this intensive week we jointly develop prototypes, models and concepts that can stretch the imagination for the connected ageing of technology and body. We work hands-on with open hardware, visit a high-tech lab and contribute to a special episode of Pianorama (cinema for seniors). The week ends with a performance that Zoumana Méïté develops together with us over the course of the worksession.

Ageing companions takes place in Brussels from Sunday evening 17 June to Saturday evening 23 June 2018. Participation is free of charge, Constant provides lunch and travel plus accommodation if necessary. Constant already invited a number of participants to start the session. In addition, 15 places are available via this open call.

If you are interested in participating, please send an e-mail to before 18 April 2018 and briefly motivate your participation. Also mention your chronological, biological and/or subjective age. We will reply no later than 25 April 2018.

Ageing companions is developed by the association for art and media, Constant in collaboration with the kunstenwerkplaats and community centre De Pianofabriek.