5th Istanbul Design Biennial, Crtitical Cooking Show

Hi Yanjun, Shomit, Christy,

The 2020 5th Istanbul Design Biennial already passed.  But I wanted to draw attention to its theme: Empathy Revisited: designs for more than one, and the Kitchen:

"The Kitchen will be a place of action and experimentation, where a range of guests will be hosting on rotation transforming the space, the menu and the conversations. Through food we will access the pluriverses that our post-human existence touches upon and constructs.”

It may be interesting to see their documentation and what was exhibited.

Cooking shows are a popular television format featuring food preparation, often involving celebrity chefs and personalities, usually highly produced. During the 2020 quarantine, people turned to social media as a space to share recipes and ideas more informally, from the intimacy of their own kitchens. Inspired by the richness of this evolving genre, the Critical Cooking Show offers a diverse range of styles and tones, from food demonstrations to fictional stories or home-made documentaries. 

Begin forwarded message:
December 11, 2019
Istanbul Design Biennial Share

(1) Interior of Diyarbakır Deva Hammam. SALT Research, Ali Saim Ülgen Archive. (2) Open-Air Theater in Kültürpark, İzmir International Fair. SALT Research, Photograph and Postcard Archive. (3) Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) restaurant kitchen. SALT Research, Hayati Tabanlıoğlu Archive. (4) Ceramic pots. SALT Research, Sadi Diren Archive.

5th Istanbul Design Biennial
Empathy Revisited: designs for more than one
September 26–November 8, 2020 

Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) 
Sadi Konuralp Caddesi No: 5 
Nejat Eczacıbaşı Binası 
34433 Şişhane İstanbul

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Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial, titled Empathy Revisited: designs for more than one, will be curated by Mariana Pestana and take place on September 26–November 8, 2020.

Starting off from the idea that design comprises the devices, platforms and interfaces through which we relate to one another, the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial will revise the notion of empathy, to reimagine a role for design concerned with feelings, affects and relations.

Invented in the 1910s, the word empathy is nowadays used to describe the capacity to perceive other people’s expressions and feelings, but in the beginning of the 20th century it was much more generous in that it encompassed the relations between bodies other than the human. Now, 100 years after its inception, it seems like the right time to revisit the original sentiment of the term. The ecological crisis we live in can be directly linked with notions of progress and development based on practices of extraction and exploration. The post-human paradigm posits that all things have their own relations with the world, that there is no human/non-human divide but a multinatural continuum across all living and non-living entities.

In a time marked by technological speed and environmental crisis, the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial is attentive to practices of care, rituals of connection, and things we can feel with. Curious about new-animism or indigenous perspectivism, it absorbs southern and eastern influences in the way it thinks about the relations between things, between people, and both. The 2020 edition privileges local knowledges and territorial practices in face of the increasing homogeny of a globalizing world.

Some of the fundamental questions that this edition raises are, what structures of collective feeling does design put forward, and how may we design for, and from, more than one perspective, more than one dimension, more than one body? Under the contemporary post-human philosophical gaze, and in face of the current technological horizon, these gestures gain a whole new potential.

Empathy Revisited: designs for more than one celebrates commensality and other protocols for sharing. Interested in tables, pots and dinner sets but also virtual reality headsets, digital currencies and online chat rooms, the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial will welcome myth and ceremony. It will be about how design brings us together.

The biennial will comprise an Observatory and a Kitchen, which will manifest in two separate venues. The Observatory will be an exhibition from which to watch, record and perform practices of empathy in the contemporary world. The Kitchen will be a place of action and experimentation, where a range of guests will be hosting on rotation transforming the space, the menu and the conversations. Through food we will access the pluriverses that our post-human existence touches upon and constructs. An open call will be announced in January for projects and events that revolve around the Kitchen.

The biennial will also for the first time form a Young Curators Group, made up of curators based in Istanbul, working as part of the curatorial team of the biennial. This group will be responsible for contextualizing the theme of the biennial locally by connecting to practitioners, thinkers and makers in the city, and establishing links between the programme and historical approaches in Turkey.

Joining Mariana Pestana for the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial’s curatorial team will be Billie Muraben (Assistant Curator & Deputy Editor) and Sumitra Upham (Curator of Programmes).

The Istanbul-based group Future Anecdotes will undertake the exhibition design of the biennial, while Studio Maria João Macedo will do the graphic design.

The details of the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial programme will be announced in 2020. The media and professional preview will be on September 24 and 25, 2020.

For further information about the theme and the curatorial team: tasarimbienali.iksv.org/en

For media inquiries: media@iksv.org

For high-resolution images: http://www.iksvphoto.com/#/folder/29acct

Synthesis B21 Prototyping Social Forms: Ylfa Muindi developing “im-mediate relations” with forests and other “ex-dividuated” non-human others

Dear Building21 friends and Prototyping Social Forms folks:  

Thursday June 18, we’ll be meeting in the PSF zoom room at 3:00 - 4:30pm (ET), a half-hour later than usual. If that works for people, we’ll confirm this as our regular schedule.

Tomorrow’s speaker is Ylfa Muindi, who will describe her approach to facilitating encounters with the natural world. Her talk will focus on a current work-in-progress: a series of audio programs that will guide listeners through synesthetic exercises so as to prepare them for a variety natural encounters. This new project aims to connect people from many different walks of life, but especially those who feel alienated from forests, to the incredible lives within forests via a variety of storytelling experiences which are designed to work our empathy muscles, expand our sensual capacities (using all available senses to experience the natural world around us), and deepen our connection to and respect for nature.

You can hear more about the project in this podcast interview, starring both Ylfa and Muindi:

A conversation w/ Ylfa Muindi, about a work-in-progress. Ylfa is working a series of audio programs that will guide listeners through a series of synesthetic exercises and natural encounters.  Ylfa’s work aims (i) to heighten our senses for “ex-dividual” experiences and (ii) to encourage us to develop “immediate relations” with forests and other “ex-dividuated” non-human others. We invite you to take a listen and to share this conversation with others.


on Chinese thought: non-dualism, relationality, transformation

Chinese thought: non-dualism, relationality, transformation

From a BBC podcast about a renowned herbalist Li Shizhen 東璧 (1518 – 1593)

"When in pre modern China, people generally had a very organic view of the world around them. So one overarching idea was that everything around us is interconnected, interdependent, and networked together. And that in other words, rather than thinking of the natural world, as that bit of the world around us that's untouched by humans, the Chinese planted human beings right in the middle of it. Now, a second main underlying idea there is that therefore, in order to understand the natural world, rather than trying to identify by or physically what things are, it is much more important to try and explain how things relate to each other. So describe the relationship of various beings, objects, plants, animals with each other. A [third] underlying idea was that everything around us in the natural world is constantly subject to change. The only certainty we have, ironically, about what happens around us is that things are constantly changing. And so everything is subject to transformations, to metamorphosis. And so the, I suppose the sage or the observer, or the scholar needs to put his finger on  explaining why changes happen and how they happen. Now, to do that you need a conceptual toolbox, and the Chinese developed that, you know, over the centuries. One is to think of everything in the world as consisting of complementary opposites. The Chinese call it Yin, and Yang, you know, the shadowy side of a hill, versus the sunny side of a hill so that you can think of things in terms of hot, cold, high, low, black, white, and so on. So that's one toolbox they had.  A second model that was applied to the understanding of the natural world was the idea that everything somehow can be classified into a group of five or following a sequence of five phases. These were natural elements identified as early as the fourth century BC fire, you know, wood, metal, earth. And I left one out here water, I think. And so the whole purpose of it is basically to just describe the pattern of change and describe ways of sequencing of how things follow on from each other. The result of that is that that you know, for the right or the wrong reasons, people who categorize nature in pre modern China seem to be always impelled to have to do this in groups of five and categories of five. And a final, not insignificant feature really about the way in which the Chinese and pre modern China handled nature or saw that relationship is that they used a language which drew substantially on figurative language. They used analogies to talk about nature comparisons. metaphors, rather than a highly technical sort of language and that sometimes takes getting used to.”

Roel Sterckx, Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science, and Civilization at Cambridge University
BBC In Our Time 20191128

Serra idea for how to relate people activity to ecosystem activity…

Hi Todd, Oana,

As a first pass to composing relations between people's activity to ecosystem activity…I’m thinking about exemplars of ensemble movements, but under two optics: (1)what people would naturally do as they encounter such a structure in an art event, and (2) ensemble movement that kinetically (formally) happens to resonate with some of the behavior that I see up into the ecosystem,

Exemplar A in people ensemble movement : people start filling up the space, when it has been empty for awhile.

Exemplar A’ in ecosystem movement : all the stuff that happens in transition from night to dawn.

Exemplar B in people ensemble movement : 
People have been milling around for awhile, driving the activity-clock*,  but then they begin to settle down in place (presence under the sky > 1** ).
(But after a while, that activity-clock’s acceleration (second time derivative of clock value) starts to fall to zero)

Exemplar B' in ecosystem movement : a storm builds, leaves silver as they turn under the wind, particles begin to be driven by chaotic wind, in addition to the movement of the leaves.

Of course, in these examples A’ is correlated to A, and B’ to B.   That’s a compositional decision.
The correlation is not fully deterministic, but correlated enough to give Serra a sense of legible response to people activity.

In order to make palpable that there are relations between one self’s activity / presence and the ecosystem, that one is in fact part of the ecosystem, some direct 1-1 logic is necessary, such as:

Exemplars C + C': each person’s movement perturbs the plants corresponding to their location, as if the wake of their passage brushes aside those leaves

I know that as a rule, we do not want to build only 1-1 logics into our piece, bc then that would be merely “interactive art.”  On the other hand, I’d like to avoid the illegibility of "complex systems."   Beesley’s hylomorphic “forests” of fronds: although his installation(s) exhibit complex behavior that has some algorithmic relation to inhabitants' presence and activity as well as the fronds' own states.  Bur after the initial charm wore off, I got bored because (1) the activity was homogeneous over time, (2) the complexity seemed randomly related to my activity.  (He explained that indeed there was a randomizer.)

* activity-clock is a Max patch that has an integer value.  It increments at a default rate per clock time.   However degree of motion (or any parameter derived from sensor data reflecting degree of activity ) increments or decrements that rate.   This simply patch could be re-written as an exercise in elementary Max.    I’d like to use it to drive certain transitions or behaviors in place of simple clocks or line or metro.

** presence can be calibrated so that 1.0 corresponds to 1 human body’s worth of occupancy under the field of view of the camera.   Thus stray smaller objects could sum up to 1.   Similarly degree of motion should be scaled so that 1.0 corresponds to the activity of one person walking about at a pace that we set experimentally by walking under Serra ourselves.

When I see you today, maybe we can start with a quick walk thru of all the different states of behaviour of the ecosystem.  Then we can bought out a bunch of human ensemble activities that we expect, then some transitions corresponding to the emergence of those ensemble activities…  (Every correlation will be naturally continuous.  We can make them seem more triggered simply by changing the response curve to be more like a step function.)

Some obvious human ensemble activities:

D. People move such that there is a general drift along one particular vector.

E. People start to move in a big circle, clockwise or counter-clockwise, with an angular velocity.

F. Gather-Scatter (how closely people bunch together): Connor’s utility.

Xin Wei

Sha Xin Wei • Professor and Director • School of Arts, Media and Engineering + Synthesis
Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts + Fulton Schools of Engineering • ASU
Fellow: ASU-Santa Fe Center for Biosocial Complex Systems
Affiliate Professor: Future of Innovation in Society; Computer Science; English
Associate Editor: AI & Society Journal
skype: shaxinwei • mobile: +1-650-815-9962
Founding Director, Topological Media Lab

FoAM videos re. plants, vegetal experience

FoAM videos re. plants, vegetal experience

Snoepwinkel: Inner Space

Borrowed Scenery: Silent Dialogues

Borrowed Scenery: Opening Electrified

Inner Garden
Stevie Wishart, Martin Howse, Viriditas Community Choir
International Society of Patobotany

FoAM and Vooruit join voices to create an inter-species choir, where plants and humans chant an ode to the greening force of nature and its continuous cycles of growth and decay. Visitors' voices and movement through the gardens complete the piece as a musical invocation to Hildegard's Viriditas - infinite greenness. From sunrise to sunset the choir filled the Victoriakas with sonic musings in Hildegard's unknown language: a lullaby sending nature to its winter sleep.

FoAM re vegetal life: Viriditas and Thalience

Viriditas and Thalience

by Maja Kuzmanovic, Nik Gaffney and FoAM


The interconnectedness of the human and the vegetal has been a recurring, age-old theme in art, science and religion. Medieval healer and mystic Hildegard of Bingen wrote about plants radiating a greening life-force (Roth 2000), which she called viriditas. Any translation of viriditas into words and symbols would remain inadequate, but it is a phenomenon that can be viscerally experienced by most humans. Viriditas can be felt while walking through a lush forest, or picking leafy greens from a garden. It is the feeling of freshness and incomprehensible greenness, a quiet, elemental consciousness permeating all life. Sadly, the cultural values of our times seem to have strayed away from viriditas in favour of the active aspects of our animal attributes — speed, expansion, predation and consumption. The balance has tipped toward the bestial side of humanity at the expense of the vegetal. However, we can reacquaint ourselves with viriditas when we slow down, become still but acutely present, like a plant. We can witness viriditas in our own resilience, awareness, compassion and contemplation.

Most noble
 evergreen with your roots
 in the sun:
 you shine in the cloudless
 sky of a sphere no earthly
 eminence can grasp,
 enfolded in the clasp
 of ministries divine.
— Hildegard Von Bingen

While viriditas can be an experiential and spiritual muse of a vegetal human culture, for the analytically inclined a more empirical approach to the idea of vegetal sentience is needed (aside from the well-known psychedelic and shamanistic perspectives). Justifiably, before encouraging development of a vegetal mind in humans, we’d like to understand the plant’s point of view first, rather than modelling our human existence on an incomplete interpretation. We might want to engage with the botanical kingdom directly, and grasp how plants perceive and communicate. There are several examples from both mainstream and fringe science looking at plant perception, signalling and sentience. Daniel Chamovitz recently wrote about how plants experience and respond to the world (Chamovitz 2012). Plant neurobiology developed in the last decade as a scientific discipline researching plants’ signalling and adaptive behaviour (Barlow 2008). On the edges of scientific replicability, we find Clive Backster’s biocommunication experiments with a specimen of Dracena Massengeana connected to a polygraph (Backster 2003), or the imaginative crescographs by Jagdish Chandra Bose and Randall Fontes (Theroux 1997). These experiments look at plant growth and movement in response to external stimuli, and attempt to understand plant perception and communication.

Venturing to communicate with plants would require humans to grasp the logic of the “vegetal mind.” Plant consciousness would no doubt be considered alien and impossible to perceive without assistance. This is where knowledge of human-computer interaction might be informative. The field of computer science has developed a variety of methods to determine the nature of machine mind by comparing it to the human mind (the Turing test being the best known example). However, it is quite anthropocentrically arrogant to think that human sentience, perception and behaviour is the only possible expression of consciousness. Why measure sentience by how well it mirrors that of humans? Nature may contain a myriad of disparate sentiences, operating according to their own internally consistent, externally incomprehensible logic. We might be “hearing their voices” daily, but having no sensory and mental capacity to translate and interpret their meaning. Perhaps we should focus our energies on “an attempt to give the physical world itself a voice so that rather than us asking what reality is, reality itself can tell you” (Schroeder, retrieved 2008). Writer Karl Schroeder called this “post-scientific” communication with non-human sentient beings “thalience.” A plant-inspired culture could benefit from getting to know its verdant neighbours from a range of perspectives, including direct and unmediated experience, moving away from teleological, utilitarian and reductionist analyses of human relationships with plants. Schroeder talks about “non-human intelligences who come to different conclusions about what the universe [is] like” (Schroeder, retrieved 2008). Plants are such “non-human intelligences” with whom we share the same universe, yet the way in which they experience the world remains beyond our grasp.

We have nothing in common with the Geometers. No shared experiences, no common culture. Until that changes, we can’t communicate with them. Why not? Because language is nothing more than a stream of symbols that are perfectly meaningless until we associate them, in our minds, with meaning; a process of acculturation. Until we share experiences with the Geometers, and thereby begin to develop a shared culture — in effect, to merge our culture with theirs — we cannot communicate with them, and their efforts to communicate with us will continue to be just as incomprehensible as the gestures they’ve made so far.
— Neal Stephenson

At the intersections of culture, gardening and technology we can start to see how plants can become organisational principles for human society in the turbulent times of the 21st century. Although we may need to scavenge at the fringes of contemporary society, we can observe many healing effects that humans can have on their surroundings through a symbiotic collaboration with plants. Some fight desertification and remediate industrial wastelands through natural farming and permaculture. Others design whole lifecycle, closed-loop technological and architectural systems inspired by natural processes, based on the art and science of biomimicry. Yet, these are scattered examples. We still don’t have widespread methods to improve wasteful, often counter-productive human behaviours. How do we encourage broader, longer-term cultural changes? What varieties of culture would be capable of forging symbiotic relationships between postindustrial human societies and the rest of the earth? How do we compost bitterness to grow beauty?

From these questions and assertions sprouted the groWorld initiative, a long-term inquiry into human-plant interactions and their effect on the longevity of human culture. The people of FoAM — a distributed laboratory for speculative culture — initiated groWorld to “minimise borders and maximise edges” between the man-made and the vegetal. In these zones of liminality and ambiguity, groWorld abets “unholy alliances” between contemporary culture and cultivation, building and growing, botany and technology. Inspired by the way in which plant species propagate – spanning multiple temporal layers – the initiative encompasses both long- and short-term explorations. The slow processes of cultural adaptation and plant cultivation are researched across several decades, through observation and interaction. At the same time, quick technological and social changes are incorporated through techno-artistic experiments in three interconnected branches: {sym}, {bio} and {sys}. The {sym} branch looks at how human culture can be infused with vegetal characteristics: in botanical fiction, plant games, active materials, and responsive environments. The {bio} branch is about a direct collaboration with plants, using age-old techniques of foraging and gardening and seeing cities as edible landscapes for humans and non-humans. Finally, {sys} deals with botanically-inspired technologies that can help humans engage with plants beyond the physical level, through sensing, perception and perhaps even communication.

Through a cross-fertilisation of {sym}{bio}{sys}, groWorld merges digital culture with environmentalism. Both approaches promote empowerment of trans-local communities and are rooted in self-reliant maker-cultures, yet they don’t often mingle. groWorld encourages their interaction by bringing programmers and gardeners, gamers and botanists together on the common ground of the arts. Together, they create hybrids of gardening and technology, or narrative realities where human and vegetal can merge into a unified, hybrid culture.

Sha Xin Wei • +1-650-815-9962 • skype: shaxinwei

Re: SERRA _ ripe _ new concept _1903

vegetal.posthaven.com  is now passworded: serra,

Nina i’ve added you as Contributor.

Here again is Oana’s description of the lovely set idea, minimally edited:

Entering the space, one sees a bright overarching ceiling and on the ground a series of reflective surfaces, or luminous ‘pools’. The ceiling is a large projection surface on which one perceives images of plants in motion taken from a low angle perspective (as if we were lying half a meter below the ground). However, the proximity to the ceiling should make it difficult to clearly read the images when standing up. From this position, one should be prompted to rather turn their sight towards the floor. On the floor, the pools of water reflect the same accelerated images of plants seen on the ceiling, yet stopping to look at them triggers the images to slow down to the threshold of barely perceptible motion, plant movement as perceived in human time. The surrounding walls are dark and the floor is occasionally vibrating from the stimuli retransmitted by transducers, which makes the water surface ripple at times. On the ground, large cushions (or a slight ramp) invites the passerby to rest. If one lays down, they can clearly see looking up the plants moving, reacting to one another and to the presence of the observers. From this perspective, where the human body is at rest, one sees the movement in another temporality, plant time

Maybe 5  lotus pad sized reflecting pools, in any case roughly as many pools as # people in room’s idea capacity 

On Mar 23, 2017, at 4:17 PM, oana suteu khintirian <khintirian@gmail.com> wrote:

hi all,

Let me share with you the new concept for the design of SRRA_ripe and please let me know what your think! Would a quick skype on Friday be possible?