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The Rules Do Not Apply

A collaboration between Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House and National Gallery X.

The successful applicants

Following our open call, we’re delighted to announce the three artists/teams who have developed micro commissions in response to The Rules Do Not Apply:

These boundary-stretching digital artworks responded to the new realities of our rapidly changing world.

This open call has now closed and the successful applicants have been announced

We are in a moment of immense uncertainty. While we weather the storm, the pandemic has created a catalyst for reflection and change. Amid the hardship, all of us are rethinking our place in the world. Through this open call, we are looking for proposals for dynamic, imaginative digital ideas that creatively explore the changing world that we all face.

On offer are micro-commissions of £4,000 for three artists/creatives (individuals or teams), who work with technology, to make something surprising using digital tools in response to two works: a piece of choreography and a visual artwork.

The call is open to artists working in any digital form and/or medium. We are actively encouraging applications from artists who identify as a Person of Colour, D/disabled and/or a member of LGBTQIA+ community as we want to actively support artists from communities currently underrepresented in our commission awards. Proposals can be submitted by single artists or collaborative teams.

The artworks

The two artworks chosen as starting points reimagine and disrupt structures of power, refract the old and the new, and play with the unexpected. These are themes we would hope to see explored within these commissions. That being said, the works are offered as starting points: how they are used, interpreted, and remade is up to you.

1 Eve, 2018

Image: Motion-capture shoot - Kristen McNally. Photo by Mark Goodhew.

Creatives will be given access to a piece of choreography by Kristen McNally, performed by Kristen McNally and Lukas Bjørneboe Brændsrød. In 2018, Audience Labs and Google Creative Lab undertook an R&D in Australia, working with Kristen to create a special digital work in which the dancers push boundaries not possible on the physical stage. The piece is about a female dancer emerging into a digital world, exploring how to make and remake, realising her power of creation free from the constraints of the real world. Creatives would be given access to this choreography as motion capture data files (.fbx). Technical info about how to view the motion capture data and possible approaches is provided with the files.

2 Paula Rego, 'Crivelli’s Garden', 1990-91

Image: Paula Rego, 'Crivelli’s Garden (The Visitation)', 1990

This large-scale triptych was commissioned from Paula Rego (1935–2022), the National Gallery’s first Associate Artist in 1989–91. Chosen to reflect ideas of transformation and empowerment in Eve, Rego’s painting appropriates the strict linear perspective of 15th-century painter Carlo Crivelli’s house and garden and reimagines the space to explore the narratives of women in biblical history and folklore found in various paintings across the National Gallery. Figures inspired by the Virgin Mary, Saint Catherine, Mary Magdalene and Delilah among others, occupy the same dream-like world and were modelled on National Gallery staff members of the time. Like the character of Eve, Rego’s painting celebrate defiant women, drawing connections between their powerful narratives and histories. Using the numerous narratives and layered  imagery of 'Crivelli’s Garden' and the choreography of Eve, creatives are invited to create a new and powerful work that pushes the boundaries of dimension, representation and the imagination. Creatives will be given access to high-resolution images of the artwork.


We are looking for proposals for original digital visual works/experiences, using the artworks provided as a starting point for experimental works that can be presented online at the end of the commission period in March 2021.

We are not looking for detailed concept proposals – the application form will be used to understand the scope and potential of what you want to achieve through the micro-commission, your creative response to the assets, your technical approach, and any expertise/support you think you might need for during development.

Formats for submission are included in the application form. We will accept proposals for video (high-resolution files) or interactive works (exported build/app and video documentation). All proposals must integrate the motion capture assets (artwork 1: 'Eve', 2018), and demonstrate some form of response to the Paula Rego work (artwork 2: Paula Rego, 'Crivelli’s Garden', 1990-91).

The micro-commissions

Three winning artists or teams will each be given £4,000 and some bespoke coaching from Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House, National Gallery X, and technical mentorship from Google Creative Lab to produce the micro-commission over a month-long period from February to March 2021.

The micro-commission will cover all fees, and any materials, equipment or expenses that you need to develop the digital work. A panel of judges will award micro-commissions to three successful applicants. The winning applicants will be notified in early February 2021. Development of the micro-commissions will take place over a month period from 15 February - 15 March 2021. We anticipate that it will require approximately 2 weeks of work across this period.

Technical support and advice will be provided throughout development however we expect that applicants have the existing expertise and resources to manipulate motion-capture data assets via their own digital software. Creatives will retain the IP of their work–the IP of the raw data remains with the originating artists and institutions.

The projects will be presented in an online showcase; National Gallery X and Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House will document and support the launch of the projects in March 2021.

This open call has now closed and successful applicants will be notified shortly. 

The deadline for applications was midnight Sunday 10 January 2021.

Due to the volume of applications, we are unable to provide feedback on individual proposals. If you have practical or access-related questions on the application process, we can help you by email and telephone.

The £4,000 micro-commission covers all artistic and production fees, and any materials, equipment or expenses that you need to develop the digital work and present online. There is a separate budget for any presentation expenses in March 2021. This is a micro-commission so the scale of the micro-commission is intended to be light - a creative experiment.

Yes, please include the name of the lead applicant on the proposal form. The fee for the micro-commission will remain the same.

We will accept proposals for video (high-resolution files) or interactive works (exported build/app and video documentation). All proposals must use and integrate the motion capture assets from ‘Eve’ and demonstrate some form of response to the Paula Rego work.

We can accept:

  • Video (.mp4 file encoded h.264/h.265 or Apple ProRes)
  • Interactive works (executable file ie .exe, .ipa, .app and any technical instructions/dependencies/platform information to run the file). For interactive works, projects must be either viewable on web browser or via video documentation if interactive work requires download/installation.

We are interested in a diverse group of artists applying. You will need to have a working knowledge of .fbx or motion capture files. It is open to the applicant what software to use for this manipulation (e.g. Cinema 4D, Blender, Unity, Unreal).

No, we are interested in a range of ideas, as long as they are digital explorations of the themes.

Yes, anyone can apply no matter where they are based.

We will develop the shape of the development period with you depending on your needs but anticipate there will be at least one weekly development call. The final project should be submitted in one of the above formats as a high resolution file and documentation of the work. This is so that we can reflect your work in the best possible way.

A realised and imaginative digital output by 15 March 2021 that can be shared in a digital showcase. For interactive works, we anticipate these to be work-in-progress, experimental projects. We are requesting the video documentation of interactive works so that are accessible to view given they will be works-in-progress.

This is not a requirement but please be aware that the micro-commission is inclusive of all fees and expenses.

Yes, you can respond via video or audio recordings by sharing files through WeTransfer, or YouTube/Vimeo or other relevant web links.

Please get in touch regarding any and all access needs and we can discuss how we can facilitate these.

We are committed to eliminating discrimination in the arts and that means we need to actively work to ensure opportunities are provided to everyone irrespective of how they identify. This call is directed at groups who have historically been less likely to receive commissions of this kind. We actively aim to support members of underrepresented and underserved communities as a part of our Public Sector Equality Duty in accordance with the Equalities Act (2010).

Applicants will be given access to this choreography as standard open motion capture data files (.fbx). The files are short phrases of movement and as well as skeleton data, they also include a body (skin). Files can be rendered out into Unity, Unreal or another game engine, or animation software e.g. Cinema 4D or Blender, to create either 3D outputs for interactive or video output. Files can be accessed by submitting the expression of interest form. You can open them with Autodesk:, video files are also provided with the .fbx files. To submit this application, we expect that you have the existing technical expertise and resources to be able to manipulate the motion capture data.

'Crivelli’s Garden' (1990-91) by Paula Rego is currently in storage as we prepare to put it on public display in Spring 2021. The painting can be viewed on request and we can arrange special access at the National Gallery.

The Rules Do Not Apply is the name of the open call. We want to hear about your response to these works. We are open to your creative vision and rationale, please consider both artworks as starting points.

Applications will go through a process of shortlisting against the open call guidelines. A panel of judges will review and award the micro-commissions based on a shortlist. There will not be an interview as part of the judging process. We aim to notify successful and unsuccessful participants at the beginning of February.

Three winning artists or teams will each be given £4,000 and bespoke remote support and access to Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House and National Gallery X networks to produce the micro-commission.

Technical mentorship will be provided by Google Creative Lab throughout the development however we expect that applicants have the existing expertise and resources to manipulate motion-capture data assets via your own digital software.

The judging panel will include a representative from the National Gallery, Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House, Kristen McNally, and a group of digital artists. Full details of the judging panel will be made available on this webpage prior to the close of the open call.

Yes, the three commissioned artists or teams will each need to sign an agreement. View the terms of this agreement.

National Gallery X and Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House chose to collaborate to deliver this commission to provide an opportunity for creative expression during these uncertain times. The pieces chosen as starting points are innovative works within our institutions’ respective collections that we wish to share more widely and use to create further dialogues with contemporary practitioners.

National Gallery X is funding the micro-commission, with the help of some friends at Google.


Find out more about our jury for The Rules Do Not Apply, below.

Tamar Clarke-Brown is a London based curator, artist and writer. Her interdisciplinary work is focused on experimental futurisms, technologies, intimate choreographies and diasporic practices, including co-founding the collective CBT, which combines the practices of coding and braiding. Tamar has produced projects with institutions including Serpentine Galleries, Autograph ABP and NTS Radio and presented at the ICA, South London Gallery, Tate Galleries, Yale School of Art, Kadist (Paris), Bard Berlin and more. Past residencies include Somerset House and the FIBER Choreographic Coding Lab in Amsterdam. In Summer 2020 she co-edited the book The Slow Grind: Finding Your Way Back to Creative Balance (2020).

Leanne is Head of Cultural Programming at King's College London, where since 2014 she has led in the delivery of a public facing programme of cultural events and exhibitions, across the university and its nine faculties, showcasing unique and interdisciplinary collaborations between academics, researchers, students, artists and cultural partners. Leanne has a background in dance/body and technology, having worked since 2001 with digital creative organisation body>data>space and an international community of artists and designers, engaged in creating innovative connections between performance, architecture, new media and virtual worlds. Leanne is working with colleagues across the university on National Gallery X, a partnership between King’s and The National Gallery, on collaborative research and development programmes that explore the potential of new technologies for virtual and physical spaces of the future.

Born in Liverpool, Kristen trained with Elizabeth Hill before joining The Royal Ballet Upper School. She graduated into the Royal Ballet Company in 2002, was promoted to Soloist in 2009 and Principal Character Artist in 2017.  Her vast repertoire includes Carabosse (The Sleeping Beauty), Empress Elizabeth (Mayerling), Lady Capulet (Romeo and Juliet), M (Eks Carmen), creating roles in Flight Pattern (Crystal Pite), Untouchable (Hofesh Shechter ) and Les Enfants Terribles (Javier de Frutos). Her own choreographic work spans across companies such as Balletboyz, The Royal Ballet, Scottish Ballet, The Royal Ballet School, John Lewis, Vogue, Google, Lululemon and Vampires Wife.

Priyesh Mistry is Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Projects at the National Gallery, London where he manages the Artists in Residency programmes and contemporary commissions, including the current exhibition Rosalind Nashashibi: An Overflow of Passion and Sentiment. Previous to this, he was Assistant Curator, International Art at Tate Modern where he worked on the Hyundai Commission 2019: Kara Walker in the Turbine Hall, the major retrospective on Asnni Albers (2018) and the group exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power (2017). Priyesh completed his MA in Contemporary Art and Theory in Asia and Africa from SOAS in 2016.

Antonio Roberts is an artist and curator based in Birmingham, UK, working primarily with video, code, and sound. He is critically engaged with the themes surrounding network culture and in his practice explores how technology continues to shape ideas of creation, ownership, and authorship. As a performing visual artist and musician he utilises live coding techniques to demystify technology and reveal its design decisions, limitations, and creative potential. He has exhibited at galleries including Furtherfield Gallery (2013), Tate Britain (2014), The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (2014), Jerwood Arts (2016), Whitney Museum of American Art (2017), Green Man Festival (2017), Barbican (2018), V&A (2019), and Czurles Nelson Gallery (2019). He has curated exhibitions including Birmingham (2011), No Copyright Infringement Intended (2017), Copy Paste (2020), and Rules of Engagement (2020). He is part of a-n's Artist Council, is an Artist Advisor for Jerwood Arts, and from 2014 - 2019 was Curator at Vivid Projects where he produced the Black Hole Club artist development programme. 

About Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House

Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House is an artist-led innovation program that brings together pioneering artists and next generation technology to create boundary-breaking contemporary opera and ballet experiences. Rooted in the Royal Opera House’s tradition of stagecraft and alive to the possibilities of immersive technologies, Audience Labs invites new and diverse audiences to experience ambitious and innovative work - wherever they are. Audience Labs works through partnerships and a diverse range of collaborators from artists to major international technology companies to government departments, museums, festivals and more. Committed to sharing learning and insight from R&D and projects and serving as a resource for the UK arts sector, Audience Labs aim to spark a dialogue around collaboration and innovation, enabling connections between cultural organisations and the technology sector and bringing together diverse creative talent, reducing barriers to entry and improving opportunity for digital adoption.

About National Gallery X (NGX)

NGX is an ambitious project at the forefront of digital innovation. Working in partnership with King's College London, we have set out to create the sorts of new museum experiences technology could make possible in ten years' time. The challenge for NGX is to create these experiences today. With a strong commitment to artistic, educational, and curatorial expertise at the National Gallery, NGX provides a space for residencies and short-term interventions from artists and thinkers to explore how technological inventions can inform new kinds of cultural experiences.