SXSW Art Program

March 9-17. The SXSW Art Program creates a platform for visual artists to connect with international leaders in the fields of music, film, and technology through showcasing innovative projects and hosting discussions during SXSW. Experience one-of-a-kind art installations by both established and emerging artists at SXSW programming venues and other locations in Austin.

SXSW Art Program

2017 SXSW Art Installation, Optic Obscura by Raum Industries

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About SXSW Art Program


Visual artists have always played a role at SXSW through the filmmakers, musicians, and technologists coming to Austin each spring. In 2017, we expanded our art initiative to deliver an experience of unexpected discovery and inspiration, bringing together diverse people, mediums, and topics.

The SXSW Art Program will continue to showcase international artists, support local talent, and contribute to a vibrant culture of art in Austin through permanent and temporary installations. We seek to work with established artists and emerging talent, and welcome your art installation proposals.

View 2017 Art Installations

Previous projects include Anima by Nick Verstand, Silent Room and Tree by Simon Heijdens, The Impossible Wall Project with POW! WOW! and SprATX, Tom Sachs: Boombox Retrospective at the Contemporary Austin, PI in the Sky by Ishky, Re+Public’s Augmented Reality Mural, and dozens more.

Proposal Details


Proposals for the 2018 SXSW Art Program will open on Monday, June 26. If you have a great proposal for 2018 or any questions about the process, please send us an email at Read more about applying to participate at SXSW here.

2017 SXSW Art Program Installations


Infinity Room

By Refik Anadol | 4 Channel Audio/Visual Installation
Custom Software, 2016

Friday, March 10 – Saturday, March 18
Austin Convention Center – 3rd Floor Palazzo
10am – 7pm

‘Infinity’ is an immersive environment project by Refik Anadol. Project is an integral part of artist’s ongoing ‘Temporary Immersive Environment Experiments’ which is a research on audio/visual installations by using the state called immersion which is the state of consciousness where an immersant’s awareness of physical self is transformed by being surrounded in an engrossing environment; often artificial, creating a perception of presence in a non-physical world.

In this project ‘infinity’ chosen as a concept,a radical effort to deconstruct the framework of this illusory space and transgress the normal boundaries of the viewing experience to set out to transform the conventional flat cinema projection screen into a three dimensional kinetic and architectonic space of visualisation by using contemporary algorithms.

Light is the major element in the experiment, used to blur and interconnect the boundaries between the two realms actual/fictional and physical/virtual. It signifies the threshold between the simulacrum space created by the projection technology, and the physical space where the viewer stands. The experiments will discuss the inherent spatial qualities of immersive virtual environments and their effect on the embodied person. Through the presented framework, the experiments intends to question the relativity of perception and how it informs the apprehension of our surroundings. Rather than approaching the medium as a means of escape into some disembodied techno-utopian fantasy, projects sees itself as a means of return, i.e. facilitating a temporary release from our habitual perceptions and culturally biased assumptions about being in the world, to enable us, however momentarily, to perceive ourselves and the world around us freshly.

The Infinity Room installation is powered by Epson.

NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism NSAF Not Safe As Fuck

By: Hyphen-Labs: Ashley Baccus-Clark, Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, Ece Tankal, Nitzan Bartov

Friday, March 10 – Friday, March 17
JW Marriott – Room 305
10am – 7pm

NSAF is a transmedia exploration told through speculative product design, emerging technologies, cognitive research, and transhumanism. Created by and for women of color, Hyphen-Labs presents a multi-layered possible future that transcends the constraints of the present; a realm which The New Yorker has called “another plane of consciousness.” Hyphen-Labs and its collaborators designed a roster of products—such as earrings that can record police altercations and clothing that thwarts facial recognition—thematically rooted in security, protection, and visibility. The virtual reality experience is the first chapter of a science fiction story placing you in a “neurocosmetology lab” where black women are the pioneers of brain optimization. Here, instead of ordinary braids, customers are fitted with transcranial electrodes that allow access to a surreal digital temple blending the physical with the digital. Additionally, participants are invited to contribute to ongoing neurological and cognitive impact research studies as a way of bringing scientific exploration into public spaces.

Optic Obscura

By Raum Industries

Friday, March 10 – Saturday, March 18
Austin Convention Center – Meeting Room 3
10am – 6pm

Optic Obscura is an interactive installation investigating the concepts of interface, connectivity, and abstraction. In this work, optical fibers, a telecommunications tool central to modern communication but generally unseen, is brought to the forefront as an artistic medium. Visitors interact with a custom interface to project visual content of their choice into the ends of hundreds of optics. These optics are oriented in a grid on the interface, in essence pixelating the image into individual points of light. This light is carried through a total of over 10 miles of optics from the interface to a cloud of points, illuminating the installation and room at large. The content is thus simultaneously perceived in its original form, projected, extruded, and ultimately obscured into a spatial matrix. In Optic Obscura, light transforms beyond data communication and becomes a dynamic and illuminating experience.


By Nick Verstand, Nikki Hock, Pandelis Diamantides | Supported by Creative Industries Fund NL, Dutch Culture USA, HKU

Saturday, March 11 – Thursday, March 16
Hilton – Room 412
10am – 6pm daily (10am – 3pm on March 16)

POV (Point Of View) is an audiovisual installation that reflects on our currently overstimulated environment by illustrating how technology is able to mediate our perception.

By creating a completely dark environment, the installation allows the audience to recapture their sensory self by placing them in an initial state of sensory deprivation. The deliberate perceptual isolation allows subjective perception to be reset and is subsequently altered by the use of light and sound. The visual system is deprived essential information necessary to interpret the dynamics of the space and turn it into its mental representation.

After the subject’s sensory palate has been cleansed, minuscule pulses of light and sound encapsulating the audience are able to manipulate their sensory experience. POV influences the audience’s perception of the size, direction and their position in relation to the continuously changing dynamics of the space. The spatial audiovisual composition heightens and challenges the senses, so the audience tangibly experiences the flexibility of their own perception.

Perception itself acts as the artistic medium, becoming an integral part of the piece. Through its immersive experiential process, the installation reveals that what is seen depends on our subjective perception and temporal perspective of the experiencing subject.

toki – series #02

By Akinori Goto

Friday, March 10 – Thursday, March 16
JW Marriott – Room 306
10am – 7pm

This artwork is a physical depiction of time in relation to movement. At first glance, it may appear to be a simple clump of white mesh, but sections of time can be reproduced by projecting light through the open slits. In depicting the invisible concept of time, I am able to more clearly express the relationship between time and movement, and can attempt to capture the beauty and nature of time itself. For my latest project, a physical depiction of time is presented in the context of a dancer’s vibrant movements, showing the dynamic progression as it moves through the air. This work could be called a sculpture of time, and through it viewers may be able to imagine a new relationship between time, movement and space. (3D print supported by DMM.make)


By Circus Family

Friday, March 10 – Friday, March 17
JW Marriott – 3rd Floor Pre-function
10am – 7pm

When there is no audience around the pulsing lights gloom slightly as if the object is asleep. When visitors approach the installation it will slowly come to life as color gradients fill the shapes, the mirrored surfaces start reflecting those colors and a soundscape fills the area. This project will invite visitors to become part of it. An immersive light experience in which the audience directs the intensity, audio and colors by simply approaching and or moving around in between the shapes and the installation.

As storytellers and designers our aim with this project is to show that a number of different techniques can be combined into this mix of unexpected shapes and materials that help to create a new way of experiencing a story.

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2017 Programming Highlights


In addition to the art installations, SXSW is proud to promote our impressive range of programming that further showcases innovators at the heart of visual arts and storytelling. Listed below are highlights of the Conference sessions and Film Festival screenings that speak to art, design and the creative process – plus local art happenings.


Hack Creativity with Neuroscience, Arts and Tech (Panel)

Adam Horowitz – MIT and Elisa Gijsen – FLAGCX

What happens when we face a blank sheet? Creativity, like much else, can be hacked and optimized by adding method to the madness, and madness to the method. FLAGCX paired up with Adam Haar Horowitz, an MIT neuroscience researcher and artist. We’ll understand how the creative process happens in our brains and how science and art are intersecting to probe unexplored heights: the self, space, sound and much more. As we love to open sources, there’ll be a lot of creative frameworks available to test; ex. the Self-Curatorship Matrix, a method for organising and mapping our own references and stimulating connections between them for new insights; and Neocognitron, a system to stimulate synapses.

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Museums of the Future (Panel)

Hélène Alonso- American Museum of Natural History, Karen Wong – New Museum, Vivian Trakinski – American Museum of Natural History

Are museums meant to become theme parks for knowledge and inspiration? How can these cabinets of curiosities, connect to an audience that looks more and more for immersion and adventure? How can our physical collections come to life in a digital world?

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#Laugh: Creating Art Among the Stars (Dual)

Jason Dunn – Made in Space and Eyal Gever

World renowned artist Eyal Gever and Made In Space, Inc. founder & Chief Technology Officer, Jason Dunn discuss the inspiration and challenges of Gever’s vision to create humanity’s first sculpture in space. With Gever’s keen artistic sense, and Made In Space’s expertise in space based manufacturing, the two have come together to deliver something to the world that everyone can relate to: #Laugh.

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Conversation with Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot (Featured Session)

Nadya Tolokonnikova – Pussy Riot

Nadezhda (Nadya) Tolokonnikova is a Russian conceptual artists and political activist. She is the founding member of the art collective Pussy Riot. In August 2012, she was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment following an anti-Putin performance in Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Shortly after the release in December 2013, she announced the opening of Mordovia office of Zona Prava, a prisoners’ rights NGO, and in September 2014 started the independently owned independent news service, MediaZona, which has since partnered with The Guardian. She has spoken before the US Congress, British Parliament, and has appeared on stage with world leaders including Bill Clinton. In November 2014 she met with Julian Assange in London and became a board member of his Courage Foundation. Tolokonnikova is a Lennon Ono Grant for Peace recipient, and appeared as herself with President Frank Underwood on season three of House of Cards and performed the Pussy Riot song “Refugees In” as part of Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition, the latest song is “Chaika”.”

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Sci-Fi by Design: The Speculative Revolution (Panel)

Ashley Baccus-Clark – Hyphen-Labs, Carmen Aguilar y Wedge – Hyphen-Labs, Jake Dunagan – verynice, Phil Balagtas – GE Aviation

Hear from artists, designers and scientists using future forecasting theory and technologies to visualize and create alternate future scenarios. Through VR, site-specific installation, art and performance, these panelists demonstrate the power of speculative design to influence policy and drive social change. Panelists include the artists behind Neurospeculative Afrofeminism, an experiential VR installation envisioning the future of women of color, and a policy scientist who deploys future forecasting to reimagine government policies and efficacy.

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Films of Interest


Director/Screenwriter: Alexandre O. Philippe

A feature-length documentary about the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, 78/52 takes an unprecedented look at the ‘man behind the curtain’ and the screen murder that profoundly changed the course of world cinema.

Divine Divas (Brazil) (North American Premiere)

Director: Leandra Leal, Screenwriters: Carol Benjamin, Leandra Leal, Lucas Paraizo, Natara Ney

Eight iconic performers of the first generation of Brazilian transvestite artists go on stage to celebrate their 50th career jubilee. The film depicts the human, personal dimension behind these icons, deconstructing gender stereotypes.

MFA (World Premiere)

Director: Natalia Leite, Screenwriter: Leah Mckendrick

The accidental death of her rapist sets an art student on a course for justice, fueling the inspiration for her thesis exhibition. Cast: Francesca Eastwood, Clifton Collins Jr, Peter Vack, Leah Mckendrick, Marlon Young, David Sullivan, Michael Welch

Muppet Guys Talking – Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched (World Premiere)

Director: Frank Oz

Five of the original Muppet performers come together for the first time ever to share behind-the-scenes secrets of the Muppets. Includes rare performance footage, surprising stories and insights into how Jim led his team to produce legendary work.

Paa Joe & The Lion (Ghana, United Kingdom) (North American Premiere)

Director: Benjamin Wigley

A true story about the art of love and death. A thought provoking and cinematic documentary film rooted in the universal themes of love, death and legacy set against one of the most beautiful art-forms in the world – Ghana’s very own fantasy coffin.

The Secret Life of Lance Letscher (World Premiere)

Director: Sandra Adair

Witness the collision of memory, color, and chaos in this unprecedented journey through the visionary mind of collage artist Lance Letscher.

Spettacolo (World Premiere)

Directors: Jeff Malmberg, Chris Shellen, Screenwriter: Chris Shellen

Once upon a time there was a tiny hill town in Tuscany that found a remarkable way to confront their issues – they turned their lives into a play.

Todrick Hall Documentary (World Premiere)

Director: Katherine Fairfax Wright

After building an empire on YouTube, Todrick Hall leaps beyond his comfort zone and deep within his own backstory to create his most dazzling and vital work yet, but with only a few weeks and a few coins, will he crush it or will it crush him?

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Local Art Happenings

HOPE Outdoor Gallery Walls

Sunday, March 12 – Wednesday, March 15
Austin Convention Center – Trade Show Floor

Stop by the SXSW exhibition to view art walls brought to you by the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, the Creative community art park located in downtown Austin, TX. This educational project is managed by the non-profit HOPE Events and was officially launched in March 2011 with the help of contemporary artist Shepard Fairey. It is the only art park of its kind in the USA and was developed to provide muralists, street artists, arts education classes and community groups the opportunity to display outdoor art pieces driven by inspirational, positive & educational messaging.

Over the past 6 years the scope of the HOPE Outdoor Gallery has broadened based on the response from local families, community members and the Austin Creative Class. It has become an inspirational outlet and creative destination for all that come to visit and is recognized as one of the Top 10 Artistic destinations in Texas.

The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is brought to the community by HOPE Events & the HOPE Campaign – Helping Artist & Musicians Support Education by Connecting Creatives with Causes.

Photo: The HOPE Outdoor Gallery courtesy of HOPE Events & the HOPE Campaign.

Pop Austin’s SXSW Art Hang

Friday, March 10 – Sunday, March 19

POP Austin will host a gallery art lounge with work from artists such as Cleon Peterson, Richard Colman, Ugo Nonis, Gao Brothers, and more. The lounge also functions as a space for art enthusiasts and SXSW registrants alike to meet up and jump off to see the handful of world-class art installations curated within SXSW’s 2017 Art Program. SXSW badge holders will have primary access to this event.

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Plastic Reflectic, Thijs Bierksteker

Sunday, March 12 – Wednesday March, 15
New Dutch Wave – Swan Dive

Plastic Reflectic provokes its spectators to think of ocean waste as a universal issue.

Plastic Reflectic (2016) is an interactive kinetic installation that lets the spectator reflect on the concept of our growing plastic problem in our oceans. The work asks participants to reflect on their own contributions to pollution.

Jim Hodges: With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress), 2014 – 2016

The Moody Rooftop at the Jones Center (700 Congress Street)

The Contemporary Austin recently unveiled a major new art installation on the rooftop of its downtown Jones Center location. Touching on universal themes of justice, equality, community, and the underserved, With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress) is also an elegant and visually beautiful artistic statement. Floating above the roof’s parapet and visible from the street, surrounding buildings, and the roof deck itself, the sculpture is composed of seven-foot-high colorful letters, glimmering with iridescent dichroic film, lit from within by LED lights, and stretching nearly 145 feet across the museum’s prominent south- and east-facing facades.

Hodges created With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress) as an open-ended platform. He noted that the multiple interpretations and conversations that the piece may elicit are as integral to the work of art as are the materials with which it was constructed, and he hopes that the piece will prompt questions and dialogue both within the museum and among the Austin community as a whole, particularly among individuals who may not otherwise engage with contemporary art.

Photo: Jim Hodges, With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress), 2014–2016. Stainless steel, Dichrolam, acrylic, enamel paint, and LED lights. Installed, 84 x 1,737 x 10 inches. Installation view, The Contemporary Austin – The Moody Rooftop at the Jones Center, Austin, Texas, 2016. Artwork © Jim Hodges. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Image © The Contemporary Austin. Photograph by Brian Fitzsimmons.

Calder Kamin: Plastic Planet

Calder Kamin: Plastic Planet

March 11-12
SXSW Social Good Hub (Techspace, 35 Brazos St.)

Plastic is everywhere. The man-made substance litters roads, fills oceans and has entered the tissue of all living things. Humans transformed nature to make our lives more convenient, only to leave a massive mess for the next generation. What are the steps to solve this crisis? Like the scavenger animals Calder Kamin sculpts, she collects a variety of colored plastic bags from her friends and family. She strips and twists the bags until they fold into a texture like fur or grass, and meticulously applies each piece. With the help of Kamin’s extended community, the Plastic Planet series diverted thousands of plastic bags from the environment.


Take a break from the convention floor and join us under The #BookBubble where you can kick back, relax, browse through our collaborative zine collection, and contribute your own scribbles and doodles as part of this living library. The Book Bubble is brought to you by cARTel: Collaborative Arts LA, a Los Angeles based creative production company building immersive experiences that focus on discovery, storytelling, and impact.

See More @ cARTel: Collaborative Arts LA

XYZ Atlas – Photo by Hedonic Arcscene

XYZ Atlas: Congress Avenue

XYZ Atlas asks why we feel a sense of belonging to a place by mapping experiences and collecting stories that document our highs and lows within a city.

XYZ Atlas is an interactive public art project. We create art, maps and activations that inform community health and well-being, urban planning, and cultural tourism with diverse outreach strategies.

In March and April 2017, the Downtown Austin Alliance has commissioned “XYZ Atlas: Congress Avenue,” between Lady Bird Lake and the State Capitol in the heart of downtown.

Look for digital and sculptural interactive art that asks about your memorable experiences on Congress Avenue, a place rich with history and future. Anchor locations for installations are between Cesar Chavez on the south to the Old Bakery and Emporium on the north.

Look for our online survey for Congress Avenue experiences at

XYZ Atlas – Photo by Hedonic Arcscene

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2018 SXSW PanelPicker Opens Monday, June 26

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