testing ground for art & ecology

Smart Hybrid Forms researchprogram

A two year long program (2021-2022) in which VU Amsterdam, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, V2_, Zone2Source and Waag collaborate to create a plant-cyborg.
With events at V2_Lab for the Unstable Media in 2021 and an exhibition at Zone2Source in October 2022.

We have entered the Anthropocene. Humanity has become a geological force transforming the geology of the earth itself. The traditional method of science, which sees nature as an object of study which lies outside of ourselves, can not be maintained anymore. We need to find new narratives on human relationships with nature. At the same time, biological science is moving rapidly into technology, producing hybrid entities that cross over from the natural into the technical world. Generally understood as an acceleration away from nature, we propose to go beyond a defensive reaction by exploring entities that represent new actors for a new world: can a computer program become a plant, or a plant a machine? What kind of political agency will they be able to presuppose? We address these questions by means of alternative ways of exploration, creating a new field where science and art come together. We focus on two influential topics: artificial intelligence and bio-energy. Both  have the potential to transform society. We will create new hybrid entities, whose meaning will be determined through direct interactions with the general public on both physical and virtual platforms.
Artists  Špela Petrič  and  Christiaan Zwanikken  will explore artificial intelligence to become a plant, and plants integrated into machines.  They will work for 2 years at the Smart Hybrid Forms lab at the Vrije Universiteit.  The Hybrid Forms Lab is a horizontal research platform with a collaborative effort of scientists and artists/designers to explore environmental science, automation, laser and optics based art, living systems and biophysics.
Parallel to this work an art theoretical research by Zone2Source director Alice Smits will closely follow the processes and reflect on the deeper meanings and ramifications of these art-science practices and the new ecology which arises. Through various public programs presenting the processes and results of the project this discussion will be opened up to other experts and the public at large to reflect together on the society that is taking shape. The aim of Smart Hybrid Forms is the creation of a plant-cyborg: a novel entity fluent in data processing as well as photosynthesis and vegetative reproduction. Specifically, the aim is to create the first digital AI that thinks of itself as a plant.
VU Amsterdam and Gerrit Rietveld Academie will conduct research, and work closely together with partners V2_, Zone2Source and Waag.
This project received the NWO Smart Cultures grant
Smart Hybrid Forms events
Christiaan Zwanikken 3 x 3 at V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam
I HypergravityBio Portal, 2 april 2021, 18.00 – 19.00u
II Hypergravity Bio Portal, 7 mei 2021, 18.00 – 21.00u
III Hypergravity Bio Portal, 4 juni 2021, van 18.00 – 19.00
Špela Petrič, 3×3 at V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam
I Automation of Care, 22 oktober 2021, 18.00 – 19.00u
II Automation of Care, ‘Weltinnenraum’ or how to love the plant so much you could eat it, 5 november 2021, 13.30 – 19.00u
III Automation of Care, 19 november 2021, 15.30 – 19.00u
Exhibition Smart Hybrid Forms with Christiaan Zwanikken and Špela Petrič at Zone2Source, 2 October – 4 December, 2022
Smart Hybrid Forms partners
VU Hybrid Forms Lab, Waag Society, LAPS Rietveld, V2_ Lab for Unstable Media and Zone2Source.