Intelligent Flora

After Effects
Film
Virtuele Wereld

Wat als planten door genetische modificatie intelligenter worden dan mensen? Een korte film over een nieuwe plantenwereld. Beginnend van buitenaf, naar binnen en door de wortels, om hun manier van communiceren te laten zien.

Een samenwerkingsproject met Merel Willemsen, Eunju Park en Boudewijn Noordhuis waarbij we een wereld hebben gecreëerd waarin planten de hoofdrol spelen. Deze wereld geeft aandacht aan de ontastbare aspecten zoals de communicatie tussen planten, die in onze huidige wereld vaak over het hoofd gezien wordt. In deze film speelt de mensheid daarom ook geen rol meer.

Onder de film is mijn Engelstalige essay te lezen over gelijkheid in een alomvattend en bewegend netwerk, waarin ik inspiratie haal uit de film, ‘Intelligent Flora’.

Film

  • Gemaakt in After Effects en Premiére Pro
  • 3 minuten

December 2021

Equality in an all-encompassing and moving network

A donkey in the lead role, a swarm of flies that follow a moving theater spot, robots that bow to the audience after the performance and computers that conduct dialogues: it sounds rather absurd, but these are post-humanistic performances that confront the viewer with the changing relationship between man, animal, and nature.1 Such a concept of posthumanism shows a world view in which man and object are equivalent to each other. In my opinion this fits well within the concept of worldbuilding and is a great way to give another perspective on reality.

Groundbreaking research and analysis by thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, Nicolaus Copernicus and Friedrich Nietzsche brought the idea of man as the measure of things and exclusive concept under question. Scientist Kristof van Baarle: “The concept of ‘human beings’ was developed to indicate a certain group. But that also excludes, because it suggests that non-humans exist.”2 Even the distinction between humans and animals appears to be less clear. Thanks to primate research by biologists such as Frans de Waal, we now know that so-called exclusive human qualities, such as empathy, also occur in animals. Van Baarle: “That means that the differences between humans and animals are no longer clear, and we have to adjust our ideas.”3

Figure 1: Snapshot ‘In the Eyes of the Animal’ by studio Marshmallow Laser Feast
Figure 2: Snapshot ‘Intelligent Flora’ by B. Noordhuis, E. Park, M. Willemsen and F. Nijhuis

The virtual platform In the Eyes of the Animal (Marshmallow Laser Feast, 2016) is a great project in which the viewer can experience a world through the eyes of other species. It is an artistic interpretation of how we can let go of our human qualities to fully experience another world and its living environments. The short film Intellectual Flora (2021) was inspired by this project.4 A world about the communication system between plants which remains for us unknown. This is an example of how worldbuilding can give a voice for those who doesn’t have any. Because why do we, as humans, get to decide what is best for trees, even though they are perfectly capable of doing it themselves?5 In addition, The Parliament of Things by posthumanist Bruno Latour represents not only people, but also things and animals.6 In New Zealand, the Whanganui River was recently declared a legal entity. Two locals have been designated as guardians and speak and decide on behalf of the river. The Parliament of Things presents a perspective on a complex and all-encompassing, eternally moving network in which people, objects and nature are equal.

According to van Baarle, artists notice that objects are occupying an increasingly important place in our lives. On the other hand, there is a so-called ‘objectification of people’, because people are increasingly described in economic terms. Van Baarle: “In human history, the desire to believe in something is a common thread. After God, you had Man and now there is…, the System.”7 But how do you relate to a system? One without direction, without clear beginning or end, in constant motion? How do you ensure that that realization does not lead to fatalism, but encourages us to act differently? These questions remain unanswered, but perhaps it is ‘post-humanistic’ to resign yourself to that. To reconcile with the fact that you only occupy a very small place in a moving, uncontrollable network of people, things, plants, and animals.

In conclusion, I believe that worldbuilding serves as a perfect form to present a total new and different world in which there are no differences between man and object. It gives an opportunity to reflect on our current world, about adjusting perspectives and empathizing with other objects and animals.


1 Weber-Krebs, D. and Haas, M., “Balthazar”, Performance, (2016); Sobarzo, R., “Prins of Ne†works”, Performance, (2016); Goebbels, H., “Stifter’s Dinge”, Performance, (2008); Dorsen, A., “Hello Hi There”, Performance, (2010).
2 van Baarle, K., “Van de mens naar de machine (en terug): dramaturgie voorbij de grenzen van het theater”, Article, (2016), pp. 22.
3 van Baarle, K., “Van de mens naar de machine (en terug): dramaturgie voorbij de grenzen van het theater”, Article, (2016), pp. 23.
4 Noordhuis, B., Park, E., Willemsen, M., Nijhuis, F., “Intellectual Flora”, Film, (2021)
5 Wohlleben, P., The hidden life of trees, Book, (2015), https://avalonlibrary.net/ebooks/Peter%20Wohlleben%20-%20The%20Hidden%20Life%20of%20Trees.pdf
6 Latour, B., “Parliament of Things”, Website, n.d. https://theparliamentofthings.org/
7 van Baarle, K., “Van de mens naar de machine (en terug): dramaturgie voorbij de grenzen van het theater”, Article, (2016), pp. 26.

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