Black Box is a new festival in Seattle that explores how technology is transforming the arts, culture, and public life.

Challenging our ideas about what art is and what art can be, Black Box transmits energetic ideas across disparate industries and disciplines: visual art, film, media, music, sound, performance, architecture, design, fashion, and more.

The festival cultivates engaged communities who think creatively and critically
about emerging technologies and digital culture.

Core programming is nomadic and experiential, presenting new work and ideas
from around the world in unexpected spaces throughout the city.

Founded in 2014 by Julia Fryett.

A platform for the most talented and innovative artists, designers, curators, technologists, hackers, and makers in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. 

Black Box features new work by international contemporary artists who are collected by major museums and routinely featured on the international art circuit. It is also an essential voice for emerging talent, representing artists who work with video, digital, new media, systems, interactive media, immersive installations, mobile communications, platforms, visualization, augmented/virtual/mixed reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, games, social media, generative software, surveillance, biotech, and robotics.

The tightly curated program unfolds through exhibitions, screenings, projects, discussions, workshops, installations, performances, and hybrid formats. An online channel premieres and distributes festival content to audiences in Seattle and beyond.


black boxnoun, is a widely used term that refers to many things: movie theaters, transistors, flight recorders, algorithms, the human brain. It is also an abstract theory that relies on observable inputs and outputs to define the invisible functions of a device, network or object. The box is “black” because the opaque facade obstructs visibility. In an artistic context, black boxes provide a method of exploring systems of the unknown which are widely accepted by society - particularly the social, political, ethical, and aesthetic implications concealed within a culture increasingly shaped by technology. Black boxes make the invisible, visible.

blackboxingverb, is described by Bruno Latour as “the way scientific and technical work is made invisible by its own success. When a machine runs efficiently, when a matter of fact is settled, one need focus only on its inputs and outputs and not on its internal complexity. Thus, paradoxically, the more science and technology succeed, the more opaque and obscure they become.”

Produced by Aktionsart, in collaboration with a selective partner network of Seattle’s most adventurous businesses and nonprofits.

The growing network of Black Box partners includes Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Design Festival, Equinox Studios, Seattle University, Seattle International Film Festival, Cornish College of the Arts, University of Washington, and Seattle Center.

Designed to be nomadic, Black Box develops an evolving program of physical and virtual locations each year.

The festival is curated thematically across multiple platforms in diverse locations throughout the community. Some locations exhibit rotating programs, featuring local and international artists. Others host community events, screenings, workshops, discussion panels, social activities and special projects.

Black Box brings art to empty buildings and warehouses, movie theaters, virtual environments, living rooms, parks, corporate offices, museums, online spaces, galleries, showrooms, lobbies, performance and music venues, black box theaters, and more.

The festival always includes a rigorous online program that presents new work to audiences around the world.

Aligned closely with Aktionsart's mission, Black Box remains in permanent beta mode. The festival is responsive and adaptive to the transitory nature of new media and the shifting landscape of contemporary art. Each year, the festival format evolves through the continuous exploration of locations, themes, and partners.

Black Box 3.0

SEPTEMBER 17 - October 2, 2016

Black Box 2.0

May 6 - June 7, 2015

“It is not down on any map; true places never are.”
-Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Pierre Huyghe. Untitled (Mask) (film still). 2014. Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, New York; Hauser and Wirth, London; Esther Schipper, Berlin; Anna Lena Film, Paris.

Featured Artists
Pierre Huyghe, Ed Atkins, Sue de Beer, Phil Collins, Josh Kline, Gillian Wearing, Roman Signer, Lisa Tan,
Knut Asdam, Kalup Linzy, Robin Rhode, Ellie Ga, Julien Prévieux 

Julia Fryett (Founder, Aktionsart)
Anne Couillaud (Independent Curator)

Institutional Partners
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle International Film Festival, Cornish College of the Arts, Institute of Emergent Technology + Intermedia, Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media at the University of Washington

Black Box 1.0

May 15 - June 8, 2014

"When you walk along the street, you're in a movie."
-Stephen Fry, Making History

Alex Prager. Face in the Crowd. 2013. Courtesy Lehmann Maupin.

Featured Artists
Laure Prouvost, Harun Farocki, Alex Prager, Ryan Trecartin, Doug Aitken, Joan Jonas, Tracey Emin, Jennifer Steinkamp,
Jesper Just, Nicolas Provost, C Spencer Yeh, James Coupe, Sara Ludy, Rafaël Rozendaal

Julia Fryett

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle International Film Festival, Henry Art Gallery, Northwest Film Forum