Open Call Details


Open from 
15th May 2020, 10:00am AEST to 20th June 2020, 11:45pm AEST
Results by 
4th September
Social behaviour
Population dynamics
Science fiction
Political movements
Big Data

Are we all just hardwired to be part of the pack?

Finding current social distancing and self-isolation a challenge? From balcony sing-alongs to virtual dance parties, our innate desire to socially connect and interact seems impossible to override. 

There are more of us now than ever before – 7.8 billion people across the entire globe, with most of us now living highly urbanized lives in an ever-growing network of cities. We are also increasingly connected through a technological frenzy of social media and digital interfaces, allowing us to share our lives to hordes of followers, to crowdsource ideas, digitise workforces, and be part of global political movements. 

We are not alone in our collective social behavior. From swarms of social insects, murmurations of birds, to molecular movements, swarming behavior underlies nearly everything. We are also seeing swarm algorithms driving our future lives, in which we will see swarms of drones and nanorobots helping (or hindering) the very essence of what it means to be human. 

At a time of unprecedented societal upheaval due to the current global viral pandemic, Science Gallery Melbourne is delving into the science and art behind what it means to be part of a pack. Have we become a plague overpopulating the world? Are we at risk of becoming culturally homogenous and less individual? Or are we becoming a superorganism capable of superior collective-intelligence with the ambition to spread beyond the realms of the Earth? 

Potential subthemes 

  • Tribalism, political movements, flashmobs, social networks 
  • Globalisation, overpopulation, colonisation 
  • Individual v’s the group 
  • Hivemind, groupthink, misinformation and memes
  • Swarming behaviour in biology (social insects, bird murmurations etc) 
  • Superorganisms 
  • Immune systems, herd immunity, pandemics 
  • Nanobots, drones, robotics, mechatronics, big data and swarm algorithms 
  • Science fiction, zombies 

Curatorial team 

Science Gallery Melbourne creates exhibitions with young people for young people. SWARM will be shaped by a curatorial panel of young people, Science Gallery staff and interdisciplinary experts including:

  • Prof Mark Elgar, Behavioural and Evolutionary Biologist, Faculty of Science 
  • Luke Briscoe, Founder and Director of INDIGILAB

Other members to be announced soon… 

Send us your ideas! 

We’re on the hunt for mass inspiration from our global disciplinary community of friends to contribute proposals for our second 2021 exhibition SWARM (Aug-Oct 2021). Art/science proposals can be a new or existing artwork, performance, workshop, digital intervention, research project, or other activity. We strongly recommend that you keep our target audience of young people aged 15-25 years in mind and consider including interactive or participatory elements. Check out our tips on what makes a good open call submission.   


We’re open to all kinds of proposals. As a guide, most of our projects are funded up to $8,000 AUD which includes all artist fees, materials, equipment, shipping, travel etc. We enthusiastically welcome proposals that come in below that budget.  We will also consider proposals for larger installations with a budget of up to $50,000 AUD, with a focus on experimentation and interaction. These should have a genuine connection to the theme and our target audience. 



Great. We love questions. There are overall open call FAQs and we have listed some extra bits below. Have a read through these extra bits first to see if they help.

Who can apply?
Anyone. There are no restrictions on age, education level, research background, country or any other factor. We especially encourage submissions from First Nations people.

Can individuals or groups and collaborations apply? 
We welcome submissions of interest from individuals, groups, collaborative projects and productions working locally or internationally.  

How big is the exhibition space? 
The Science Gallery Melbourne building is going to be an amazing space with wide open areas, moveable walls, large glass windows, natural light and high ceilings. There are two dedicated gallery spaces, The Peter & Ruth McMullin Galleries; The Eastern Gallery is 800 square meters with a ceiling height of 5.5m and the Western Gallery is 300 square meters and up to 12m ceiling height. So don’t be afraid to go big. We love big. 

How do you decide which projects are included?
At Science Gallery Melbourne we embed young people in every stage of the process. The projects we receive through this open call will be reviewed and hotly debated by our curatorial panel. This panel is made up of young people, Science Gallery Melbourne staff and academic/indistry experts. If your proposal makes it to the shortlisting stage you will then meet and discuss your project with the Science Gallery team in person or on video call.

I don’t really have a project to pitch but I work in this area and I’d love to be involved. 
Let’s gloss over that this isn’t technically a question to say: Fantastic! We want to know about your practice. Come join us as we embed research and knowledge within the fabric of all our programs. We want to connect you with the public, creative practitioners, academics and industry both locally and globally. Get in touch!

Can I receive feedback from my application if I am not shortlisted?
Sorry but it’s not possible due to the volume of applications we receive. Feedback is only available to proposals that make the shortlist when they meet with the Science Gallery team.



Althought the different dates for application and result are clear, I failed to find an exhibition period / duration. 

Thank you in advance for letting me know!


Dear Stéphane, thanks for reaching out to us. Currently the provisional dates for the opening of the exhibition are: 19 July 2021- 25 October 2021 but exact dates are yet to be decided upon. Cheers and good luck!


I’m want to submit a project to SWARM’s open call and I have technical questions.

I have a project that require hanging a large but light piece from the ceiling. I would build from the ground and raise the piece little by little as it gets completed. This means I would need a hanging point on the ceiling and the possibility to raise a cable. What are your requirements/guidelines regarding working with heights? Do you have equipment/personnel? Would such an attach point be possible?

Have a beautiful day,

Seiko Hayase

Hi Seiko, thanks for your interest in SWARM and for reaching out. We will have rigging points available so that won't be a problem. Working with heights, down the line if you are part of the installation you would need to complete a University of Melbourne OH&S short induction. We are able to offer technical assistance with the install if this is something you would need help with. Please list everything in the submission. Thanks and good luck.


Thanks for the very interesting thematic prompt.

Are performance pieces considered for the exhibition? If so, is there a particular format that you would like to see followed (ie, duration, or number of performances)?

Thanks very much.

Hi Bridie, thanks for your interest. Yes, performance pieces are accepted. There isn't a particular format, please send through your ideas and your ideal format. Thanks and good luck.

We are a not for profit aboriginal art and culture centre located in outback Queensland. We are famous nationaly and internationaly for our large scale sculptures of traditional totems made from ghost net and recycled materials. Ghost Net is our term for ilegal damaged fishing nets thrown over the side of commercial fishing boats. Once disgarded they continue to catch and kill fish and other marine life without purpose. We have a large inventroy on hand and thought we could work together to make an interesting exhibit for Swarm. You can look at our work by visiting Paul Jakubowski is the manager. 

Hi Paul, thanks for your interest in working with us on SWARM. Good to hear about you, we suggest you still create a profile and submit your work to us. Cheers!


I'm interested in submitting a proposal that involves projection and wondered if you have any projectors that could be used? I'm aware that the budget is supposed to cover all equipment but projector hire is very expensive so it will have a significant impact on the possibilities of this proposal. 

Thanks in advance 

Hi Thomas, thanks for your note. We will have a small inventory of tech including projectors and screens. Happy to receive a proposal including tech costs and one without tech costs. Thanks and good luck.