Zane Cerpina
– Curatorial statement

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Curator Zane Cerpina, 2022

Ecophilia? Think of Ecophilia as our deep desire to connect with nature. But what is nature really? Except for some made up ecological dreamscapes? 

Ecology comes from Greek Oikos, meaning home. Today every aspect of our home is altered by new technologies, man-induced environmental disasters, biotechnological wonders, and blurred borders between the made and the natural. Has our home become alien to us in this age of global ecological transformations? How is ecophilia manifested in the Anthropocene? 

The Ecophilia exhibitions of Meta.Morf 2022 present artists who critically question what it means to be a real ecophile –a true lover of nature– today. And how to become better at it?

Ecophilia exhibitions take place at three galleries in Trondheim: i) K-U-K – Kjøpmannsgata Ung Kunst, ii) Trøndelag Center for Contemporary Art, and iii) These exhibitions investigate strange concepts of nature and all wonderful manifestations of our love for it. 


In our search to become better ecophiles, we are desperate to upgrade our communication with nature. Will we ever succeed in truly understanding its language? In the installation Birdsong, Leena Saarinen brings together languages of people and birds by visualizing bird whistle tones through spectrograms. This allows the viewer to read bird songs just like we read words.

And what about understanding plants, who communicate with each other in ways invisible and inaudible to humans? María Castellanos and Alberto Valverde’s video installation Beyond Human Perception compares human and plant response to live music, demonstrating how technology can bring us closer to cross-species conversations. 

Then again, humans seem to forget that they are part of nature too. How to love nature within us? In Annike Flo’s work States of Chimera, agar growth medium is contaminated with her own microorganisms to create a living sculpture. This is a manifestation for erotic and queer love for the human body. 


Extreme measures can be taken to satisfy our desire for ultimate naturalness. Yang Zhichao merges symbiotically with nature in the performance Planting Grass where a surgeon inserts two pieces of grass into the artist’s shoulder. What does the inevitable and painful bodily rejection of the plant roots tell us about our physical bonds with nature?

If our bodies refuse to incorporate more nature within us, can we immerse ourselves in nature instead? In the durational artwork Be-coming Tree, Jatun Risba lays naked in the forest throughout seasons as if she is one with the mycelium network of trees. 

What would happen if we traded our comfort with the living conditions of animals? With the help of prosthetics, Thomas Thwaites takes on the seemingly careless life of a goat in his work Goatman (A holiday from being human). Roaming together with his newfound four-legged companions, Twaites contemplates stripping away the role of humans in the hierarchy of nature. 


Can thinking from the perspective of non-humans make us better ecophiles? What if a true form of ecophilia requires us to give back to nature more than we have taken? To Flavour Our Tears: eyePhones v. 3.0 by The Center for Genomic Gastronomy allows the audience to explore their role as a sustainable food source to other species. Why not flavour our bodies to taste better?

How far are we willing to modify our bodies to benefit non-humans? In the work I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin…, Ai Hasegawa speculates on becoming a surrogate mother to pass on the genes of endangered species. Can nature finally seek refuge in our man-made Oikos?

Should ecophiles provide services to nature? Hibernaculum (Moth-) by Marius Presterud is an ecovention inviting insects back to cities. Making sculptures from materials found in urban environments he creates refuge for moths.

There are many ways an ecophile can cater for non-human needs. In the work Manure From Money, Marius Presterud utilizes coins to extract vital micronutrients such as iron, copper and zinc that are vital for plants.

And what about those who refuse to accept and embrace their role in nature as a giver and a lover? How to make sure that we all care? In her installation Aquadisia, Stephanie Rothenberg proposes to utilize genetic engineering and the mythical powers of the oysters to create a serum turning humans into more compassionate beings.


The real challenge to sustain ourselves without nature is poorly understood. The Life Support System by exposes the fundamental importance of the natural ecosystems by creating an artificial, closed-loop system to cultivate a one square meter of wheat. Another 99 such high-cost units are necessary to sustain a human for one year.

In the Anthropocene, nature is increasingly marked by environmental changes and the extinction of species. How to cope with the disappearance of nature? In the video installation Goth Beekeeping Marius Presterud begets a ritual burning to confront the loss of natural habitat due to ever expanding human-built environments. 

Can paradise lost be immortalized through digital technologies? In his work Re-Animated, Jakob Kudsk Steensen creates a vast virtual landscape to show the disappearance of the Kaua’i ʻōʻō bird from the islands of Hawai’i. Do we really care about the lost nature? Or are we simply drawn to the spectacle of ecological disasters? 

In his installation No Man’s Land Frank Ekeberg uses sound to illustrate the disappearance of rainforest in the west coast of Norway. Transitions from rich and natural to digitally created soundscapes lead the audience into speculations about the future. Can our lost nature be replaced by artificial life?  

Or are we drifting through fictional worlds to escape the reality of the Anthropocene? Annie Hägg’s video installation PsXCare uses the aesthetics of a video game to address the unsustainable consumption of natural resources in order to maintain our beautiful virtual landscapes. 

And how do these blurred lines between the made and natural affect our philias towards nature? A Bestiary of the Anthropocene by helps to navigate the new hybrid beings that coexist with us in this post-natural era. Can we ever truly love the emergent species of the Anthropocene?

Nature is always in constant change. What if we would lose our man-made nature too? Maren Dagny Juell’s video installation The Party looks back at our obsession with plastic from a future perspective. Will today’s plastic products once become rare and fetishistic objects in a post-plastic world?

Now it is time to dive into ecophilia.
Unleash your inner ecophile.
Go find your love. Your true nature.


ECOPHILIA-utstillingene / Meta.Morf 2022

Kurator Zane Cerpina, 2022

Økofili? Tenk på økofili som vår dype trang til å knytte oss til naturen. Men hva er egentlig natur? Bortsett fra noen oppdiktede økologiske drømmelandskap?

Økologi kommer fra det greske Oikos, som betyr hjem. I dag er ethvert aspekt av hjemmet vårt endret av ny teknologi, menneskeskapte miljøkatastrofer, bioteknologiske underverker og uklare skillelinjer mellom det tilvirkede og det naturlige. Har hjemmet vårt blitt fremmed for oss i denne tiden med globale økologiske transformasjoner? Hvordan manifesterer økofili seg i antropocen?

I Ecophilia-utstillingene på Meta.Morf 2022 presenteres kunstnere som stiller kritiske spørsmål ved hva det vil si å være en ekte økofil – en sann elsker av naturen – i dag. Og hvordan bli bedre til det?

Ecophilia-utstillingene finner sted på tre gallerier i Trondheim: i) K-U-K – Kjøpmannsgata Ung Kunst, ii) Trøndelag senter for samtidskunst og iii) Disse utstillingene utforsker merkverdige naturbegreper og fantastiske manifestasjoner av vår kjærlighet til den.


I vår søken etter å bli bedre økofile er vi desperate etter å oppgradere vår kommunikasjon med naturen. Vil vi noen gang lykkes med virkelig å forstå språket? I installasjonen Birdsong fører Leena Saarinen språket til mennesker og fugler sammen ved å visualisere fuglekvitter gjennom spektrogrammer. På denne måten kan seeren lese fuglesanger akkurat som vi leser ord.

Og hva med å forstå planter, som kommuniserer med hverandre på måter som er usynlige og uhørbare for mennesker? María Castellanos og Alberto Valverdes videoinstallasjon Beyond Human Perception sammenligner menneskers og planters respons på levende musikk og viser hvordan teknologi kan bringe oss nærmere å føre samtaler på tvers av arter.

Men igjen ser det ut til at menneskene glemmer at også de er en del av naturen. Hvordan elske naturen i oss? I Annike Flos verk States of Chimera kontamineres agarvekstmedium med hennes egne mikroorganismer for å skape en levende skulptur. Dette er en manifestasjon av erotisk og skeiv kjærlighet til menneskekroppen.


Ekstreme tiltak kan iverksettes for å tilfredsstille vårt ønske om maksimal naturlighet. Yang Zhichao smelter symbiotisk sammen med naturen i performancen Planting Grass hvor en kirurg innsetter to gressbiter i kunstnerens skulder. Hva forteller den uunngåelige og smertefulle kroppslige avvisningen av planterøttene oss om våre fysiske bånd til naturen?

Hvis kroppene våre nekter å inkorporere mer natur i oss, kan vi fordype oss i naturen i stedet? I det kontinuerlige kunstverket Be-coming Tree ligger Jatun Risba naken i skogen gjennom årstidene som om hun er ett med mycelnettverket av trær.

Hva ville skje hvis vi byttet vår komfort med levekårene til dyr? Ved hjelp av proteser inntar Thomas Thwaites det tilsynelatende bekymringsfrie livet til en geit i sitt verk Goatman (A holiday from being human). Thwaites streifer rundt sammen med sine nyvunne firbeinte følgesvenner og funderer over å fjerne menneskets rolle i naturens hierarki.


Kan det å tenke utfra ikke-menneskers perspektiv gjøre oss til bedre økofile? Hva om en ekte form for økofili krever at vi gir tilbake til naturen mer enn vi har tatt? I To Flavor Our Tears: eyePhones V. 3.0 lar The Center for Genomic Gastronomy publikum utforske rollen som bærekraftig matkilde for andre arter. Hvorfor ikke smaksette kroppen vår slik at den smaker bedre?

Hvor langt er vi villige til å modifisere kroppene våre til fordel for ikke-mennesker? I verket I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin… spekulerer Ai Hasegawa i å bli surrogatmor for å videreføre genene til truede arter. Kan naturen endelig søke tilflukt i vårt menneskeskapte Oikos?

Bør økofile yte tjenester til naturen? Hibernaculum (Moth-) av Marius Presterud er en økokonvensjon som inviterer insekter tilbake til byene. Ved å lage skulpturer av materialer funnet i urbane miljøer skaper han et tilfluktssted for møll.

Det er mange måter en økofil kan dekke ikke-menneskelige behov på. I verket Manure From Money bruker Marius Presterud mynter til å utvinne livsviktige mikronæringsstoffer som jern, kobber og sink, som er livsviktige for planter.

Og hva med de som nekter å akseptere og omfavne sin rolle i naturen som giver og elsker? Hvordan sørge for at vi alle bryr oss? I sin installasjon Aquadisia foreslår Stephanie Rothenberg å bruke genteknologi og østersens mytiske krefter til å lage et serum som gjør mennesker til mer medfølende vesener.


Vi har liten forståelse av den virkelige utfordringen med å opprettholde oss selv uten natur. Life Support System av viser den fundamentale betydningen av de naturlige økosystemene ved å lage et kunstig, lukket system for å dyrke én kvadratmeter hvete. Ytterligere 99 slike høykostnadsenheter kreves for å ernære et menneske i ett år.

I antropocen er naturen i økende grad preget av miljøendringer og utryddelse av arter. Hvordan takle forsvinningen av naturen? I videoinstallasjonen Goth Beekeeping frembringer Marius Presterud en rituell brenning for å konfrontere tapet av naturlig habitat på grunn av stadig voksende menneskeskapte omgivelser.

Kan det tapte paradis foreviges gjennom digitale teknologier? I sitt verk Re-Animated skaper Jakob Kudsk Steensen et vidstrakt virtuelt landskap for å vise forsvinningen av fuglen kauaihonningeter fra Hawaii. Bryr vi oss virkelig om den tapte naturen? Eller er vi rett og slett tiltrukket av skuet av økologiske katastrofer?

I sin installasjon Ingenmannsland bruker Frank Ekeberg lyd for å illustrere forsvinningen av regnskog på vestkysten av Norge. Overganger fra rike og naturlige til digitalt skapte lydlandskap leder publikum inn i spekulasjoner om fremtiden. Kan vår tapte natur erstattes av kunstig liv?

Eller glir vi gjennom fiktive verdener for å unnslippe realitetene ved antropocen? Annie Häggs videoinstallasjon PsXCare bruker estetikken til et videospill for å fremvise det ikke bærekraftige forbruket av naturressurser for å opprettholde våre vakre virtuelle landskap.

Og hvordan påvirker disse uskarpe linjene mellom det fremstilte og det naturlige våre filier mot naturen? A Bestiary of the Anthropocene av hjelper oss å navigere blant de nye hybridvesenene som eksisterer sammen med oss i denne post-naturlige epoken. Kan vi noen gang virkelig elske den fremvoksende antropocen-arten?

Naturen er alltid i konstant forandring. Hva om vi også ville miste vår menneskeskapte natur? Maren Dagny Juells videoinstallasjon The Party ser tilbake på vår besettelse med plast fra et fremtidsperspektiv. Vil dagens plastprodukter en gang bli sjeldne og fetisjistiske objekter i en post-plastisk verden?

Nå er tiden til å dykke ned i økofili.
Slipp løs din indre økofil.
Finn kjærligheten din. Din sanne natur.

A Bestiary

Meta.Morf 2022 – Ecophilia / Trøndelag Centre for Contemporary Art /
May 19 – July 31 / Curator: Zane Cerpina / Co-curator: Espen Gangvik



A BESTIARY OF THE ANTHROPOCENE is an illustrated compilation of hybrid creatures of our time, equally inspired by medieval bestiaries and observations of our damaged planet. Designed as a field handbook, it aims at helping us observe, navigate, and orientate into the increasingly artificial fabric of the world. Plastiglomerates, surveillance robot dogs, fordite, artificial grass, antenna trees, Sars-Covid-2, decapitated mountains, drone-fighting eagles, standardized bananas… each of these specimens are symptomatic of the rapidly transforming “post-natural” era we live in. Often without us even noticing them, these creatures exponentially spread and co-exist with us.

A BESTIARY OF THE ANTHROPOCENE seeks to capture this precise moment when the biosphere and technosphere merge and mesh into one new hybrid body. What happens when technologies and their unintended consequences become so ubiquitous that it is difficult to define what is “natural” or not? What does it mean to live in a hybrid environment made of organic and synthetic matter? What new specimens are currently populating our planet at the beginning of the 21st century?

A BESTIARY OF THE ANTHROPOCENE includes: 100+ original collages and handmade pointillist illustrations | 60 written observations on selected hybrid specimens & creatures | 11 long contributions, and original critical essays by leading experts.


Founded in 2012 by Nicolas Maigret and Maria Roszkowska, DISNOVATION.ORG is both an art collective and an international workgroup engaged in the crossovers between contemporary arts, research and hacking. Artist and philosopher Baruch Gottlieb joined the collective in 2018. Together, they develop situations of interference, discussion and speculation that question dominant techno-positivist ideologies in order to foster post-growth narratives. Their research is expressed through installations, performances, websites and events. They recently co-edited A Bestiary of the Anthropocene, an atlas of anthropic hybrid creatures, and The Pirate Book, an anthology about media piracy.

Their work has been presented at numerous art centers and festivals internationally such as Centre Pompidou (Paris), Transmediale (Berlin), the Museum of Art and Design (New York), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), FILE (Sao Paulo), ZKM (Karlsruhe), Strelka Institute (Moscow), ISEA (Hong Kong), Elektra (Montréal), China Museum of Digital Arts (Beijing), and the Chaos Computer Congress (Hamburg). Their work has been featured in Forbes, Vice, Wired, Motherboard, Libération, Die Zeit, Arte TV, Next Nature, Hyperallergic, Le Temps,, Digicult, Gizmodo, Seattle Weekly,, and Filmmaker Magazine among others.

Header Graphics: “A Bestiary of the Anthropocene” by


Annike Flo

States of Chimera

Meta.Morf 2022 – Ecophilia / Trøndelag Centre for Contemporary Art / May 19 – July 31 /
Curator: Zane Cerpina / Co-curator: Espen Gangvik

States of Chimera / 2022

Annike Flo [NO]

We are no longer considered to be individuals, but metaorganisms; chimera, made into being from the collaborative force of microorganisms and our own cells. I look into my own visceral connections, to the in-human (Jeffrey J. Cohen), to the aliens within. Symbiosis moves us away from old hierarchies of concepts and beings. Attempting to feel myself as metaorganism, a heaving gelatinous pile of loose connections, consummation, reproduction, and decay, I feel the queerness and erotic possibilities of this monstrous condition that it is to be me, monster, human. The Erotic is often connected to our private sphere, but what is private and what does it mean to love oneself when both encompasses the trillions of bodies that make us up? Where does the line between self love and zoophilia go?

Silk, fur, feather, leather – all which are made from other beings, yet touch both our mind and body in inexplicable ways. Sexuality and the queer is often expressed through these materials, and, together with cloth and synthetic varieties, so has my own expression of myself and my erotic.

Annike Flo
Annike Flo (b. 1986) is a cross-disciplinary artist and scenographer. Inspired by the Anthropocene as a concept, Flo investigates what it means to create in our current era, with a focus on our relationship to other beings. She is inspired by research, materials and methods from other fields, and often collaborates with researchers and practitioners from other disciplines. From 2018 to 2021 Flo led the new arena  for art and science, NOBA, Norwegian BioArt Arena, at Vitenparken, Ås. Annike holds an MA in scenography from Norwegian Theatre Academy and a BA in costume from LCF, University of the Arts, London (2010).

Header Graphics: “States of Chimera” by Annike Flo.


Ai Hasegawa

Ai Hasegawa

Meta.Morf 2022 – Ecophilia / Trøndelag Centre for Contemporary Art / May 19 – July 31 /
Curator: Zane Cerpina / Co-curator: Espen Gangvik


Ai Hasegawa [JP]

Humans are genetically predisposed to raise children as a way of passing on their genes to the next generation. For some, the struggle to raise a child in decent conditions is becoming harder due to gross overpopulation and an increasingly strained global environment.

This project approaches the problem of human reproduction in an age of overcrowding, overdevelopment and environmental crisis. With potential food shortages and a population of nearly seven billion people, would a woman consider incubating and giving birth to an endangered species such as a shark, tuna or dolphin? This project introduces the argument for giving birth to our food to satisfy our demands for nutrition and childbirth, and discusses some of the technical details of how this might be possible.

Would raising this animal as a child change its value so drastically that we would be unable to consume it because it would be imbued with the love of motherhood? The Maui’s dolphin has been chosen as the ideal ‘baby’ for this piece. It is one of the world’s rarest and smallest dolphins, classified critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation’s Red List of Threatened Species (version 2.3) because of the side effects of fishing activity by humans, its size (which closely matches the size of a human baby), and its high intelligence level and communication abilities.

I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin… imagines a point in the future, where humans will help this species by the advanced technology of synthetic biology. A ‘dolp-human placenta’ that allows a human female to deliver a dolphin is created, and thus humans can become a surrogate mother to endangered species. Furthermore, gourmets would be able to enjoy the luxury of eating a rare animal: an animal made by their own body, raising questions of the ownership of rare animal life, and life itself.

Ai Hasegawa
Artist. Her work focuses on the relationship between technology and people. His provocative works invite viewers to debate ethical boundaries, and often deal with themes related to reproduction and the future of life and death. Her book “How to be a Revolutionary in 20XX” has been published in Japan and Taiwan.


Header Graphics: “I Wanna Deliver a Dolphin…” by Ai Hasegawa.

Jakob Kudsk Steensen

Jakob Kudsk Steensen

Meta.Morf 2022 – Ecophilia / Trøndelag Centre for Contemporary Art / May 19 – July 31 /
Curator: Zane Cerpina / Co-curator: Espen Gangvik

RE-ANIMATED / 2018 – 19

Jakob Kudsk Steensen [DK/DE]

RE-ANIMATED explores the intersections of extinction, preservation of immortality. It is a re-imagining of ornithologist Douglas H. Pratt’s memories of the now extinct Kaua’i ʻōʻō bird, as told to Artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen. In the work, a vast virtual landscape based on Kaua’i unfolds and transforms into a photorealistic new world for people to explore. 3D-scanned organic material sourced from both field work and the American Museum of Natural History, as well as real archival audio are all remixed together, alongside algorithmic music composed by Michael Riesman, Musical Director for the Philip Glass Ensemble. Plants, moss, and insects respond to the pulse of music generated in real-time, and the audience’s breath and voice organically impact the virtual atmosphere through the VR headset. As a slow-moving, poetic virtual environment, RE-ANIMATED investigates how we relate to nature irrevocably altered by human activity. It provokes fresh perspectives on our ecological future, which may become unbound by the physical conditions governing our present reality.

RE-ANIMATED combines virtual reality with 3 video pieces – Arrival, Mating Call, and The Bug Zapper. 

RE-ANIMATED, Arrival begins with a descent upon the virtual simulation of the island of Kauai and the Alakai plateau. The viewer travels through time, onto the 5 billion year old volcanic island. It is a slow, meditative fall through layers of clouds, humidity, clouds and finally landing on the misty, humid atmosphere of the plateau’s jungle forest, the home of the Kaua’i ʻōʻō bird, before it went extinct during the 1980s because of avian malaria.

The Arrival is a layered story of explorers, missionaries and naturalists, also of the birds, the mosquitos and a virus, avian malaria, interacting with the landscape, through time. Between the 18th, 19th and 20th century, as the elevation drops slowly, the viewer experiences the impact the species have on the island, on each other over the years, changing the land and the life in permanent and ephemeral ways.

RE-ANIMATED, Mating Call
RE-ANIMATED, Mating Call is based on the last Kaua’i ʻōʻō bird, which died in 1987, marking the extinction of its species. In 2009 its mating call – first recorded in 1975 and later digitized in an ornithology lab in New York – was uploaded to YouTube. Since then, the song of the Kaua’i ʻōʻō calling in vain to a mate who was not there has been played more than half a million times. The project is a response to this mating call.

RE-ANIMATED, The Bug Zapper
RE-ANIMATED, The Bug Zapper, begins with a sensory and immersive journey through the foliage of the island, moving through leaves, water and roots. Through a hypnotic light, the space transforms into a virtual exhibition with flies covering the walls. These flies turn slowly into letters, warning us of the self-reflective nature of peace – we are drawn by digital media to consume these stories of extinction, just as the flies are drawn by the bug zapper into their own doom.

RE-ANIMATED is made with support from Tranen Center for Contemporary Art, The Danish Arts Foundation, Bikuben Foundation, Harvestworks, Mana Contemporary and Artist Alliance.

Jakob Kudsk Steensen
Jakob Kudsk Steensen (b. 1987, Denmark) is an artist working with environmental storytelling through 3d animation, sound and immersive installations. He creates poetic interpretations about overlooked natural phenomena through collaborations with field biologists, composers and writers. Projects are based on extensive fieldwork. Key collaborators include Musician ARCA, Composer and Musical Director for the Philip Glass Ensemble Michael Riesman, Ornithologist and author Dr. Douglas H. Pratt, Architect Sir David Adjaye OBE RA, BTS, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Natural History Museum Berlin, among others.

Jakob has recently exhibited with his major solo exhibition Berl-Berl in Berlin at Halle am Berghain, commissioned by LAS, and at Luma Arles with Liminal Lands for the Prelude exhibition. He was a finalist for the Future Generation Art Prize at the 2019 Venice Biennale. He received the Serpentine Augmented Architecture commission in 2019 to create his work The Deep Listener with Google Arts and Culture. He is the recipient of the best VR graphics for RE-ANIMATED (2019) at the Cinequest Festival for Technology and Cinema, the Prix du Jury (2019) at Les Rencontres Arles, the Webby Award – People’s Choice VR (2018), and the Games for Change Award – Most Innovative (2018) among others.

Header Graphics: “RE-ANIMATED” by Jakob Kudsk Steensen.
Portrait Photograph: Bastian Thiery.


Leena Saarinen


Meta.Morf 2022 – Ecophilia / Trøndelag Centre for Contemporary Art / May 19 – July 31 /
Curator: Zane Cerpina / Co-curator: Espen Gangvik

Birdsong / 2019

Leena Saarinen [FI]

Video 3 min 29 sec

In the piece Birdsong Leena Saarinen aims to bring the languages of people and birds closer to each other by creating an alphabet for birdsong. For the piece she has studied sound visualization through spectrograms. While studying bird vocalizations she found that the whistle tones in the spectrograms look visually similar to letters or alphabets. That is one of the links Saarinen tries to make in order to bring the human and nonhuman languages closer to each other. She looks for connections and similarities between the languages in order to dismantle their structures and hierarchies. She is also interested in different kinds of translations between image, sound and text and what knowledge can be gained and lost in the translation process.

Leena Saarinen
Leena Saarinen (b. 1988) is a visual artist based in Helsinki, Finland. Her practice is multidisciplinary and research based. She works with questions of posthumanism in the age of climate change and mass extinctions. In her work she studies culture, language and the relationship between human and non-human species. Her works have been exhibited in galleries, museums and public spaces in Finland and internationally. She is currently doing her master’s degree in the Academy of Fine Arts in University of the Arts Helsinki in the sculpture department.

Header Graphics: “Birdsong” by Leena Saarinen.


Stephanie Rothenberg

Meta.Morf 2022 – Ecophilia / Trøndelag Centre for Contemporary Art / May 19 – July 31 /
Curator: Zane Cerpina / Co-curator: Espen Gangvik

Aquadisia / 2022

Stephanie Rothenberg [US]

Soft, fleshy and resourceful, the oyster is a magnificent and extremely talented creature of the sea. It was almost extinct by the mid 20th century due to industrial pollution and massive overfishing. One tiny 2-inch organism can filter up to 50 gallons of polluted water per day. Its home created from its own layered shells combine with others to form natural reef systems that protect coastlines against rising sea levels and provide habitat for other species to thrive. And legends speak wonders of its euphoric powers as an aphrodisiac.

Imagine if we could bioengineer this magical species to convert toxic water into an even more transformative formula and pipe it into public drinking water? Could we create a public sentient machine of more perceptible humans? A perception that enables a more sensual interconnection with the cycle of life that leads to a better handling of this ecological crisis? One that transforms energy into an agential sensual power?

Aquadisia, part of a larger body of work called Aphrodisiac in the Machine, is an environmental science fiction that manifests in a variety of formats online and offline including installations, videos and performances. It explores the ethical and economic contradictions within the desire to be more sustainable, both individually and on a global scale. The project focuses on the neoliberal concept of natural capital and what is known as ecosystem services, the provisioning and regulating of natural resources for human benefit and furthermore, survival. Drawing on innovations in genetic engineering and marine science, the project explores one area of ecosystem services that has received much development known as aquaculture. It is a form of sea farming that has been gainfully employed to more sustainably secure future food resources and offset the environmental degradation of land-based industrial farming. Yet as these systems scale up they become another extraction machine presenting a new set of environmental problems.

Inspired by black feminist writer Audre Lorde’s notion of the erotic as a power of feeling, Aquadisia posits more-than-human sentience as a lubricant to speculate a new kind of eco-machine. The project plays with the libidinal myth of the oyster, a hermaphroditic organism, being bioengineered in a futuristic aquaculture farm. Technology is eroticized as intersexual bioengineered cyborg oysters convert toxic water into a magical fluid called Aquadisia Water given out freely to the public. Lorde challenges the patriarchal overtones in how the word erotic is used, not only redefining but reigniting the erotic as a physical, psychic and emotional energy that can’t be reduced to a commodified good or systematized affect. Can this new and improved bioengineered oyster push humans past the mere libidinal and sexualized state of capital conquests of other bodies and into a new state of sentience – a Sentience 2.0? We invite you to take a drink!

Project support:
Aquadisia / Aphrodisiac in the Machine is supported through the Department of Art, University at Buffalo and artist residencies at Z/KU Center for Art and Urbanism in Berlin and Xenoform Labs in San Francisco and a fellowship at the Roux Center for Environmental Studies at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Laboratory research using CRISPR on oyster DNA is currently being conducted at Coalesce Center for Biological Art at the University at Buffalo, NY.
Sound design by Suzanne Thorpe. Video talking head Shasti O’Leary Soudant. 3D animations created by Gary Jacobs, James LaPlante/Sputnik Animation. Titles created by Brent Patterson, Spencer Kohrt.

Stephanie Rothenberg
Stephanie Rothenberg’s interdisciplinary art draws from digital culture, science and economics to explore symbiotic relationships between human designed systems and biological ecosystems. Moving between real and virtual spaces, she engages a variety of media platforms that include interactive installation, drawing, sculpture, video and performance. Her artworks make visible the terrestrial and digital networks of capital that flow through the bodies of both human and more-than-human entities. Arising from her fascination with techno utopian culture, her multimedia storytelling seeks to reveal the contradictions of its narratives. Topics in her work include the bio politics of digital labor and sustainability myths surrounding the concept of  natural capital.

She has exhibited internationally in venues and festivals including ISEA, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center (US), Sundance Film Festival (US), Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art / MASS MoCA (US), House of Electronic Arts / HeK (CH), LABoral (ES), Transmediale (DE), and ZKM Center for Art & Media (DE). She is a recipient of numerous awards, most recently from the Harpo Foundation and Creative Capital. Residencies include ZK/U Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik in Berlin, TOKAS / Tokyo Art and Space (JP), the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace/LMCC (US), Eyebeam Art and Technology Center and the Santa Fe Art Institute (US). Her work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art and has been widely reviewed including Artforum, Artnet, The Brooklyn Rail and Hyperallergic. She has been a participant and organizer in the MoneyLab research project at the Institute of Network Cultures (NL), co-organizing the 2018 MoneyLab 5 symposium that took place in Buffalo, NY (US). She is Professor in the Department of Art at SUNY Buffalo (US) where she co-directs the Platform Social Design Lab, an interdisciplinary design studio collaborating with local social justice organizations.

Header Graphics: “Aquadisia” by Stephanie Rothenberg.



Thomas Thwaites

Meta.Morf 2022 – Ecophilia / Trøndelag Centre for Contemporary Art / May 19 – July 31 /
Curator: Zane Cerpina / Co-curator: Espen Gangvik

Goatman (A holiday from being human) / 2015

Thomas Thwaites [UK]

Goatman began as a project to take a holiday from being human; to escape the stress and worry of being a person in human society with all its moral and practical complexities. There is a lot to worry about personally and globally, and with worry comes guilt and regret for failing to do ‘the right thing’. So: wouldn’t it be nice to just trot away from it all and become a goat, free to roam, free from worry, free from guilt? To have a holiday not only from your day-to-day life, but from yourself as well?

But underlying the project is a question about ‘progress’: the notion that our species and our civilization is progressing toward something better: our spinning of stories out of our pasts and our futures, our regrets and our hopes.

I found trying to become a lowly, humble goat spiritually (as well as physically) uncomfortable: was I trying to go ‘backwards’, to de-volve? This discomfort led me to realise, that although I don’t consider myself religious, I’d been swept up/indoctrinated in a secular grand narrative; that there is a hierarchy of species, and that despite a few setbacks along the way, a rationalist liberal high technology culture will ultimately emerge as the end of our history. The techno-optimist idea that we as a species are progressing and evolving away from our base, savage uncultured ancestors, and toward an enlightened post-human future, possibly even colonising other planets.

Ernest Becker in the Denial of Death (1973), stated that currently ‘we are gods with anuses’: we’re high-tech cyborgs able to transcend so much of our biology, but yet we still must succumb to our biology, eating and defecting, and ultimately will die and rot away. Becker argued it is cognitive dissonance arising from this dual view of ourselves, that drives our need to be part of grand narratives, be they religious, nationalistic, aristocratic, or techno-scientific. We can’t quite face our knowledge of our own mortality, so we need to latch on to the idea we’re part of something greater.

The post-human answer to resolving this dissonance is to continue developing technology which will ultimately allow us to sever our link with our mortal fleshy biology, curing old age and death, and thus become fully god-like (and in the case of ‘mind-uploading’ to literally relieve ourselves from the necessity of having an anus).

As I pursued my dream of becoming a goat I realised I’d soaked in this optimistic vision of the future growing up, and at least subconsciously believed I was contributing in some small way to progressing human civilisation toward some kind of Star Trek future. And so Goatman became about enacting an alternative route out of our dissonance; to remove the godlike part in us. I wanted to personally come to terms with the idea that there is no ‘human destiny’ that we are all a part of, to stop thinking about ‘the future’ as a kind of destination, to stop striving, to remove humanity from the top of some imaginary hierarchy of nature, to expunge Descartes, and to present an alternative humble future of the post-human to aim for: the life of a goat on a hillside.

Should we dream of a future amongst the stars, or should we dream of a future akin to the life of a goat on a mountainside?

Thomas Thwaites
Thomas Thwaites is a designer interested in the social impacts of science and technology. He holds an MA in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art, and a BSc. in Human Sciences from University College, London.

His work is in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Banque De France (Cite de l’Economie in Paris), and the Asia Culture Centre in South Korea. His work is exhibited at major galleries and museums worldwide, including at the National Museum of China, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, the Science Museum (London), the Cooper Hewitt in the USA and La Triennale di Milano (Italy). He has spoken at numerous conferences, including TED and Design Indaba, as well as at universities and businesses worldwide. Press includes features in national newspapers including the New York Times, Süddeutsche and The Financial Times. He has presented a four part television series, aired on Discovery Channel. 

He is the author of two books; The Toaster Project, and GoatMan. The Toaster Project documents Thwaites’ attempt to make an electric toaster from scratch. Goatman describes his project to take a holiday from being human by becoming a goat. Both are published by Princeton Architectural Press, and have been  translated into Korean, Japanese and Norwegian.

Header Graphics: “Goatman” by Thomas Thwaites. Photo credit: Tim Bowditch.

The Center for Genomic Gastronomy

Meta.Morf 2022 – Ecophilia / Trøndelag Centre for Contemporary Art / May 19 – July 31 /
Curator: Zane Cerpina / Co-curator: Espen Gangvik

To Flavour Our Tears: eyePhones V. 3.0 / 2016 – ongoing

The Center for Genomic Gastronomy [NO/PT]

To Flavour Our Tears (TFOT) is an experimental restaurant that places humans back into the food chain by investigating the human body as a food source for other species. By researching the culinary needs of insects, decomposers and other eaters-of-humans, we hope to intimately and materially reconnect humans with the metabolic flows of the planet and our role in shaping them. We already spend a lot of time making our food flavourful, and making ourselves beautiful. Shouldn’t we also flavour ourselves well for the organisms that consume us? Will the chef of the future help humans taste good to nonhumans?

Using a tear-drinking species of moth as jumping off point, To Flavour Our Tears asks: How do you taste to the small organisms that consume parts of you everyday, and every last bit of you when you die? How can humans manipulate their bodies, diet & emotions to change their own flavour? What are the culinary properties of human biomass, and what are the gustatory preferences of insects, microbes and other organisms that consume humans?

TFOT contains prototypes of the tools, recipes and rituals required for AUTOGASTRONOMY (the art of flavouring oneself well) and ALTERGASTRONOMY (the study of human body parts as ingredients for other organisms). The proposal includes:

  • a Moth Bar where human visitors can shed tears for thirsty moths, using specialised tools and practises if they can’t cry on cue
  • an AnthroAquaponics System where fish feed on the dead skin cells of human feet, and in turn, provide nutrients for a plant growing system which feeds humans
  • an AlterGastronomy VR room where visitors can embody a wolf devouring a jogger or a microorganism or virus exploring the human body
  • the Saprophytic Supper: 24 Hour Buffet where humans can examine the microorganisms that feast on their skin cells
  • the Fat Flavouring Lab where R&D in flavouring fat, skin, blood, sweat, and pee happens
  • the Rooftop Garden Burial site where a few lucky decomposers get to consume the remains of deceased humans.

This version of the installation features a newly released eyePhones operating system. It is Version 3.0 of the low-tech VR headset designed to help you become comfortable with the feeling of moths drinking your tears. Place your head inside the VR headset as you listen to the first-hand account of a scientist describing moths drinking his tears. Focus your attention on the moths as they flutter around your head and imagine them landing, sipping and enjoying the salt-rich liquids that surround your eyes.

The Center for Genomic Gastronomy
The Center for Genomic Gastronomy is an artist-led think tank launched in 2010 by Cathrine Kramer (NO) and Zack Denfeld (US) that examines the biotechnologies and biodiversity of human food systems.

Their mission is to:

  • map food controversies,
  • prototype alternative culinary futures and
  • imagine a more just, biodiverse & beautiful food system.

The Center presents its research on the organisms and environments manipulated by human food cultures in the form of public lectures, research publications, meals and exhibitions. Since 2013 they have been joined by the artist Emma Conley (US) and collaborated with scientists, chefs, hackers and farmers in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Working between and beyond the life sciences and gastronomy the Center has been published in WIRED, Science, Nature and Gastronomica and exhibited at the World Health Organization, Kew Gardens, V&A Museum, Science Gallery and others.

Header Graphics: “To Flavour Our Tears” by Center of Genomic Gastronomy.


Yang Zhichao

Meta.Morf 2022 – Ecophilia / Trøndelag Centre for Contemporary Art / May 19 – July 31
Curator: Zane Cerpina / Co-curator: Espen Gangvik

Planting Grass

Yang Zhichao (CN)

Time: November 5, 2000
Place:  Eastlink Gallery, Shanghai
Process: Two incisions, each 1 centimeter deep by 1 centimeter wide, were made on the performer’s shoulder with no administration of anesthesia. Grass from the Suzhou Creek was then planted in the incisions. The process lasted 45 minutes. 

At 10:00 A.M. on November 5, 2000, on the second floor of No.1133 Suzhou Road, Shanghai where Fuck off was taking place, an operation platform measuring 2000×800×780mm was made. An operational scalpel was incised into my left scapula by a surgeon. Without any anesthesia, the surgeon made two incisions, each 1 centimeter deep by 1 centimeter wide. Two freshly picked grasses from Suzhou Creek were then planted into the incisions. The process lasted for 45 minutes.

Yang Zhichao is one of China’s most prominent performance artists. During the historical show Fuck Off at Eastlink Gallery in Shanghai in 2000, Yang Zhichao was widely recognized for his performance work Planting Grass which embraces pain and introduced direct interventions of his own body. Following the exhibition, Yang Zhichao’s other performance pieces became subject of discussions inside and outside of China, establishing Yang as one of the leading figures in Chinese performance art. His exploration and practice has been described as “a peaceful violence towards the body”. 

Yang Zhichao’s works have been exhibited institutionally worldwide including China Live, Chinese Arts Centre of Manchester, Centre for Contemporary Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2005); Inward Gazes- Documentaries of Chinese Performance Art, Macao Museum of Art, Macao (2005); Art Basel in Hong Kong, Hong Kong (2013); Go East-The Gene Brian Sherman Contemporary A Sina Art Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, New South Wales (2015); Mapping Chinese Art, 1972-2012: Selection from M+ Sigg Collection, Hong Kong (2021) among many others. 

Born in 1963 in Yumen City, Gansu Province, China, Yang Zhichao was introduced to art when he was 14 years old. Yang studied painting at the Art Department of Northwest Normal University from 1982 to 1986. During college, he collaborated with colleagues to make contemporary dramas, and hosted discussions and lectures of aesthetic of action. After graduation, Yang was assigned to teach painting at a high school in Lanzhou, Gansu Province. His solid academic training and work experience ensured his success in teaching and painting in the traditional sense. However, Yang had always felt that art should not be limited to the medium of academic painting. In 1987, Yang collaborated with his classmates Xichuan and others to create the performance piece Rolling Canvas. In the following years he united local avant-garde artists in Lanzhou, known as the Lanzhou Group to create several performance pieces that were challenging to public perception at that era. Yang’s time in Lanzhou marked the starting point of his long and lonely journey in performance art. Since then, he began to boldly use his body as a medium for art creation, thus challenging the balance between physical “internal cohesion” and social “tension”.

In 2000, his three renowned works Bask, Brand and Planting Grass, gained his performance art recognition and popularity in China and abroad. In 2002, Yang won the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA). Since then, he has completed Hide, Chinese Bible, Tao Te Ching, Ear of Wheat, and the Apocalypse series among others. Yang Zhichao has always used his own body and the various conceptual extensions surrounding the body as an experimental ground for his performance art creations. Yang is not only a pioneer of early Chinese performance art, but also one of the few artists in the history of Chinese performance art who had established a unique system of logical narratives.

Yang Zhichao currently lives and works in Beijing.

Eli Klein Gallery has an international reputation as one of the foremost galleries specializing in contemporary Chinese art and continues to advance the careers of its represented artists and hundreds of other Chinese artists with whom it has collaborated. The Gallery has been instrumental in the loan of artworks by Chinese artists to over 100 museum exhibitions throughout the world. It has published 40 books/catalogues and organized more than 75 exhibitions of Chinese contemporary art at our prestigious venues in New York City. Eli Klein’s gallery artists have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Artforum, Newsweek, and ARTnews and have been on CNN and countless other international broadcasts, publications, and online critical reviews. 

Located at 398 West Street (between Charles and West 10th) in the trendiest part of the West Village, Eli Klein Gallery is just a few blocks from the new Whitney Museum and the commencement point for the High Line. In a landmarked Federal-style row house that enjoys special cultural, historical and aesthetic value to the City of New York, Eli Klein Gallery occupies 3 levels of the building, boasting 13-foot ceilings on the ground floor.

The Gallery was founded by Eli Klein in 2007. During these formative years, it established a reputation for introducing fresh, contemporary, and often challenging works by rising Chinese talents to the western audiences. Now, as the leading dealer of Chinese contemporary art outside of China, Eli Klein actively promotes cross-cultural awareness and investment at the highest level amongst some of the world’s most influential nations.

Header Graphics: “Planting Grass” by Yang Zhichao. Photo: Courtesy of Eli Klein Gallery.