Depressed when the temperature drops?

Commiserate with art in the dead of winter.

When: 29th February - 1st March 2020
Where: MADD Center at the University of Chicago

Photography by Otto Saxinger

What's Commiserate Chicago?

Commiserate Chicago is an inaugural new media arts festival seeking to reflect on the state of media art, particularly in the context of Chicago, a city with a legacy of new media art and an emerging generation of artists. Local and international artists are invited to exhibit work and share their process through talks and workshops.

Starting on the day that does not exist 75% of the time, a day renowned for the most depressing Chicago weather, we summon new media artists to exhibit their works, join our discussion, and demonstrate their artistic process in live workshops at the University of Chicago’s MADD Center.

This event especially, but not exclusively, reaches out to artists from under-represented communities (women, LGBTQ+, POC).

The first Commiserate Chicago media art festival featured 2 keynotes, 29 exhibited artworks, 7 workshops, 7 talks and 6 special screenings. Selected artworks include interactive installation, kinetic sculpture, virtual reality experiences, olfactory video game, video, short film and artist book. Our invited guest speakers came from diverse backgrounds of cyber security, computer-human interaction, studio art, net art, media studies, and open-source development. Our special screening received videos and films through domestic as well as international artists. 


"Critical Optimism"
with Sophia Brueckner

Sophia Brueckner is a futurist artist/designer/engineer. Inseparable from computers since the age of two, she believes she is a cyborg. As a software engineer at Google, she built products used by tens of millions. She received her MFA from RISD and MS from the MIT Media Lab where she investigated the simultaneously empowering and controlling aspects of technology with a focus on wearables.

"Is sharing caring? Enacting novel relationships with nonhuman worlds in the arts"
with Desiree Foerster

Desiree Foerster graduated from the Institute for Arts and Media, University of Potsdam with her thesis “Aesthetic Experience of Metabolic Processes”. Taking on the perspective of process philosophy and media-aesthetics, she investigates the impacts of liminal experiences on human subjectivity. She will start her PostDoc at UChicago’s CMS Department in July.


The two-day symposium convened artists and researchers to discuss the state of media art and our survival as a community. 11 speakers spoke about the limitations of technofetishim and Ludism, relations between technology and our interiority, and rethinkings of how we engage with media sensorially and as consumers. Presentations were held at the University of Chicago’s new Media Arts, Data, and Design Center.


We believe that workshops should be a platform for media practitioners who prioritize methodology and generative processes over definitive products. We invited artists, researchers and developers to demonstrate and communicate their approaches in live workshops at the festival.

Featured artists


(the experimental performance initiative)

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Art & Technology Studies Department


This year, Commiserate Chicago is excited to present several exhibition pieces with CHIMEfest 2020: Circulations!