New perspectives on the non-human world could revolutionise how humans live together with worms, ferns, bacteria, and all other life forms on earth. Have we met? presents a range of possible collaborative tools developed by practitioners across art and design, agriculture, and data- and marine sciences, as well as a series of projects advancing equality in multispecies cohabitation and tools that show how humans can reorient themselves towards non-humans. Studio Ossidiana have designed the Have we met? exhibition as a collective body that doubles as an observatory, combining human, animal, botanical and mineral components. Visitors are welcomed into the belly of this living being that temporarily inhabits the triennale site.
For Italian visitors to the exhibition: you can download the accompanying texts in Italian translation below.
Per i visitatori italiani della mostra: è possibile scaricare i testi di accompagnamento in traduzione italiana qui.
Zoöp, Museumpark Rotterdam
Assessed by researcher Ania Molenda
Many cities have become more biodiverse than the monocultures of their surrounding agricultural countryside. Relatively few pesticides and herbicides are used in city gardens where flowering plants from all over the world grow, helping various species of bees and butterflies to thrive. However, cities are densely packed with infrastructure aiding human mobility, energy use and communications, and are consequently subject to human-centric policies about what can grow where.
On Earth Day 2022, Het Nieuwe Instituut became Zoöp, engaging with its surrounding ecosystems and providing a testing ground for ecocentric organisational practices. Such actions occupy different scales and places.
How can we support the mycelia in soil? How could outdoor programming not disturb the bats? How can we find a balance between human aesthetics and non-human needs?
Without active care and respect for non-human life, human agendas will prevail. This is illustrated by the ivy that grew in Rotterdam's Museumpark for 70 years until it was cut by the city’s mowing services.
The ivy was removed during routine maintenance in spite of its importance as a vital habitat for birds and insects. The stump of the ivy is now part of the collection of the Natural History Museum Rotterdam.
Policy takes place (2022)
Marlies Vermeulen and Remy Kroese from Dear Hunter
Policy Takes Place can map, visualise and localise legal, administrative and policy concerns for a Zoöp. From specific practical situations ‘in the field’, the instrument clarifies what is important for an organisation, its position, as well as what other non-human participants may consider important and, above all, how these interests can interrelate with one another.
Policy takes place is therefore best employed in a context with participants from various disciplines and backgrounds.
Dear Hunter visited several Zoöps for their research, specifically Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam and VBAZO food forest in Amsterdam.
Deep Steward (2018)
Ian Ingram and Theun Karelse
Artists Ian Ingram and Theun Karelse present the latest iteration of, an AI programme that develops its own logic forcategorising the living environment it observes through a camera.
Deep Steward has no pre-existing human or other knowledge input, and as such can propose logic otherwise imperceptible to humans, engendering new relations for understanding non-human life.
Through its categorisations, Deep Steward invites humans to think beyond existing boundaries, in turn opening up novel relationships with the living world. You can see the Deep Steward camera in the Triennale Milano garden ongoing.
The camera installation in the garden was created by Gisto.
Data Fusion Instrument (2022)
Rodrigo Delso and Eric Kluitenberg with ArtScience interfaculty students at the University of the Arts The Hague: Philipp Groubnov, Christine Hvidt, Andrzej Konieczny, Alexander Köppel, Leon Lapa Pereira and Vivien Vuong
The digital and analogue sensors of Data Fusion Instrumentregister vibrations, heat traces, sound frequencies, electromagnetic waves, the smell and spread of pollen, the conductive capacity of mycelia growing underground, and the slow changes of humidity in the air. It has been installed in Het Nieuwe Instituut’s garden since spring 2022, where it reads a space 30 metres wide by 30 metres long and 3 metres tall for eight months. Data Fusion Instrument registers changes that tend to escape human senses, either because they are too small, too slow, or because they occur in inaccessible areas. The instrument then fuses the different layers of data into a new representation of that volume of biosphere, bringing all the captured changes together in a new form that humans can directly experience.
Evaluation of soil samples with Dr. Margarita Hernandez-Restrepo, Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, pollen samples evaluated in collaboration with Dr. L.A. de Weger - Afdeling Longziekten en afdeling Eerstelijns Geneeskunde en Public Health, Leiden Universiteit Medisch Centrum.
Assessed by biologist Sander Turnhout
In the Netherlands, traditional intensive farming is in turmoil. An excessive amount of nitrogen in the environment means that farmers need to drastically cut back on their emissions – livestock numbers must be reduced, and fertiliser use should be limited. This is a disruptive change from Dutch agricultural policy that, until recently, favoured the intensification of activity while investments propagated ever-higher yields, both contributing to the current exhaustive monocultures.
Bodemzicht takes an entirely different approach. In 2020, Bodemzicht was founded as a regenerative demonstration farm by Anne van Leeuwen and Ricardo Cano Mateo. Their aim is to improve conditions for all life, starting by creating a living soil, learning by doing, and sharing the process with others. It hopes to be an example for grounded, resilient farms practicing regenerative agriculture.
Regenerative farms grow living soil, capture CO2, build multi-species communities, increase biodiversity, and produce food for humans, all while running a profit.
Chicken Mobile (2020-ongoing)
Harald den Breejen and Sjoerd van Leeuwen, commissioned by regenerative farm Bodemzicht
Chicken Mobile is a simple solution to regenerate compacted and degraded soil. In a moving area around the mobile, 83 chickens roam, shelter and lay eggs. It is also a practical translation of their natural roosting spot, a tree, with perches at staggered intervals allowing the chickens to rest according to rank. Waste falls through the open-grid floor (ensuring no predators can enter), keeping the Chicken Mobile relatively clean as it feeds the soil beneath. Natural rhythms between grass and grazing animals (a balance evolving over millions of years) were disturbed when humans started keeping animals in fixed spaces. Chicken Mobile aims to recalibrate this by translating the dynamic of grazing cattle into a contemporary small-scale chicken farm. This allows chickens and humans to build living soil, increase its water retention and capture CO2, all while chickens eat fresh grass and insects every day.
Leena Valkeapää and Oula A Valkeapää
Manifestations is a compilation of messages and photographs that Oula A Valkeapää, a reindeer herder, sent to his partner Leena. They document a shared life with animals in what appears to be a dream-like yet deeply grounded reality, with everyday messages and observations conveying glimpses of a changing world.
The film offers an intimate view into the Arctic landscape where the fate of humans and reindeer is deeply entangled. The winter of 2021-22 was especially harsh since the climate has lost its rhythm and become increasingly volatile, with wet and freezing temperatures quickly followed by dry weather and thawing. This has created a shortage of food for the reindeer, further increased by unrest in eastern Europe.
Director: Leena Valkeapää
Narrator: Oula A Valkeapää
Editor: Teemu Lehmusruusu
Translator: Tommi Kakko
Made with support from the Finnish Bioart Society and Kone Foundation. The 1:20 scale model is by Rob Gijsbers.
Interspecies Play (2022)
Design Investigations students at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna: Takuma Kikuchi, Lucy Li, Florian Sapp and Alan Schiegl
Interspecies Play explores the idea of shared fun between humans and non-humans. Cities are home to a huge variety of species, but while they share space, they do not share their lives.
This project therefore proposes urban wild areas for humans and other animals to interact, featuring ‘toys’ such as a photo booth designed for birds, small mammals, and humans alike.
These booths are physically separated to respect the boundaries of each species but are connected digitally – a motion sensor in an animal booth triggers a flashing light, signalling humans to run to have their picture taken. The split screen image then shows both the human and the animal ‘photographer’.
Drilling platform off the Dutch coast
Assessed by marine researcher Fiona Middleton
A cluster of decommissioned oil rigs just off the coast of the Netherlands includes five platforms: Halfweg, Hoorn, Haver, Helder and Helm. Their location invites a conversation on urgent cultural, spatial, and political questions around multispecies approaches to marine ecosystems. The removal of these rigs is an important moment for a pivoting energy landscape. Attention to rig ecologies is growing as the decommissioning wave spreads and questions multiply around what to do with these structures and their reliant lifeworlds. They act as oases for sheltering the sediment beneath, but also a beacon for mammals and seabirds. Each platform has been constructed and maintained with high-performance materials to endure the North Sea conditions. Now, the remains of metal cuttings are known to feed microbes, pipelines serve as a substrate, and oily residues offer surfaces and resources to marine biodiversity. The rigs’ purpose shifts from human values (of which the logging-while-drilling sensor tool on display here is a symbol) to non-human values without us having to lay another finger on them.
Borgþór Sveinsson (2012)
Brynjar Sigurðarson of Studio Brynjar and Veronika
This documentary by film-maker Sebastian Ziegler follows Borgþór Sveinsson, a hermit spending his winters in a small cabin in the remote Icelandic countryside looking for a bull fish – a species that only exists in a couple of places on earth. Sveinsson patiently investigates what might interest the bull fish in an attempt to find a common ground with this unknown entity, and even takes ‘gifts’ to attract its attention. He respectfully explores the lifeworlds of other bodies that he does not yet know – a perfect example of the attitude required for all multispecies collaboration.
Director: Brynjar Sigurðarson
Producers: Frosti Gnarr, Búi Bjarmar Aðalsteinsson, Hilmir Berg Ragnarsson
Camera: Sebastian Ziegler
Designing the problem (2022)
Embassy of the North Sea and Darko Lagunas
In the coming years, the North Sea will be filled with wind turbines producing renewable energy and aimed at reducing CO2 emissions. This initially appears laudable as it supports the long-term liveability of the planet, but a closer look reveals that such devices threaten to repeat past mistakes, destroying both human habitats (through mining) as well as non-human lives at sea. The Dutch government issued a competition for companies wanting to build new wind farms off the country’s coast. The Embassy of the North Sea (an organization seeking to make the North Sea a political actor) chose not to submit a bid, but rather redefine the project by suggesting a short postponement to improve the competition’s requirements in the complete production chain. The Embassy’s plan proposes explicit funding to help marine life, a legal Zoöp representative acting on behalf of non-human interests, as well as the fair treatment of workers and the environment to protect against the dangers of mining raw materials.
Research by Darko Lagunas
Water have no enemy, enemy have water (2022)
Julian Abraham “Togar”
This audiovisual work uses a continuous conversation to stimulate new perspectives on human and non-human interaction. Through its multiple channels, it promotes listening as an important position from which to better understand both ourselves and non-human life. Water have no enemy, enemy have water features a conversation between Anne van Leeuwen, Aldo Esparza Ramos and the artist, who each share thoughts and stories as well as incentives to encourage humans to unlearn existing notions of anthropocentric community in order to actively engage with other life forms.
New Instinct (2021)
Keer Hu, Yuzhi Liu and Jiafeng Zhu
This project enables humans to sense otherwise-imperceptible natural phenomena that are pivotal for other living beings for navigation, such as this tool allowing humans the to see earth’s electromagnetic field. It was recently discovered that this field guides the migratory patterns of birds through a protein in their retinas that is sensitive to the magnetic charge, allowing songbirds such as European robins to navigate their seasonal journeys. New Instinct aims to introduce humans to embodied navigation systems by translating the magnetic perception of birds into a hat. A magnetic field sensor inside controls a motor that rotates the hat so that the wearer is facing magnetic north.
Botanical Bath (2022)
This immersive installation takes inspiration from the practice of ‘forest bathing’, a therapeutic physiological and psychological exercise. While Japan is credited with the term’s origin, other cultures have long recognised the importance of the natural world for improving human health. In the 1990s, researchers began studying the benefits of forest bathing, confirming the positive effects of spending time in nature. Playing with the relationship between nature and culture, Botanical Bath offers an indoor nature experience that appeals to the human senses, using plants to play a trick on the human mind. Feel free to reach through the opening and bathe yourself in this hyper-natural world.
Made in collaboration with artist Frank Bruggeman, perfumer Liza Witte and sound designer Alfred Koster.
The exhibition is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
The programme is supported by the Embassy and Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Italy