Platform for Research through the Arts and Sciences

A number of major European art and science organizations, including Raoul Frese’s research group from the Physics department of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, are starting STUDIOTOPIA, Art meets Science in the Anthropocene. Hybrid encounters between artists and scientists will be supported in seven European countries during this four-year project. Through a grant from the Creative Europe program totaling 2.8 million euros, artists and scientists will work together in studios across Europe. The resulting new perspectives can contribute to creative solutions for the environment, pollution, biotechnology, artificial intelligence and climate change issues.

This project makes trans disciplinary research possible; necessary in view of the global, complex challenges to achieve sustainable social development. In the Netherlands, residencies for artists and scientists will take place in the art-science laboratory of the VU faculty of exact sciences; the Hybrid Forms Lab. Students, young people and citizens will be involved in the project through workshops and meetings. During the program, work will be shown at various European locations, including the VU campus. An overview exhibition will take place at the BOZAR museum in Brussels in 2022. The results of all European residences can be seen there.

Raoul Frese, director of Hybrid Forms Lab: “Scientific developments in biotechnology and computer science are moving so fast that critical reflection is necessary during the research. This requires more interaction between scientific disciplines, and between citizens and researchers. Artists form a bridge between these groups. They have a broader view, which makes their way of research eminently suitable for providing insight into large complex problems. Funding from the EU’s Creative Europe fund is unique to the university. It shows that grant providers are becoming aware of the need for a broader research strategy. “

Scientists who want to take up the challenge of collaborating with artists are invited to register via the website

There you can also find information about the participating artists, including Christiaan Zwanikken from Amsterdam and artist duo Dmitry Gelfand and Evelina Domnitch who are housed at the VU.

Studiotopia partners are Gluon (B), ARS Electronica (A), Cluj Cultural Centre (Ro), Laznia Centre of Modern Art (PL), Onassis Cultural Centre (Gr), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (NL) and  Laboral (Spain).

Hybrid Forms Lab is a unique place within the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In the research lab, artists and scientists conduct transdisciplinary research at the intersection of art and science. Projects are embedded in programs from different subsidy providers, and from different disciplines from both VU and art academies. Projects with themes such as artificial photosynthesis, works of art with lasers, artificial intelligence and hybrid biological and technological machines are currently underway.

For more information, please contact: Dr. Raoul Frese, director of Hybrid Forms Laboratory and researcher of applied photosynthesis and energy in the LaserLab of the department of physics and astronomy of the Free University of Amsterdam.

Phone: 020-5987263


Hybrid Forms:

How can a machine think of itself as a plant?

with Hybrid Forms Lab

Keywords: artificial intelligence, machine learning, plant behaviour, embodied cognition, machine sensing, algorithmic governance, vegetariat

The Plant-Machine Project stems from an urgency to discover compelling new ways of caring for Earth’s living creatures in a time when computational abstraction in algorithmic governance is our shared reality. Under the project’s artistic umbrella an interdisciplinary team of scientists, artists, programmers and engineers work towards making a machine that thinks itself a plant. Befitting the ambitious task, the project is further divided into chapters or experiments which function as self-sufficient artworks as well as stepping-stones towards the larger project. The series of works allows us to gradually develop plant sensors, to become acquainted with plant behaviour, tinker with the machine’s embodiment (robotic actuators) and to test various possibilities in machine learning approaches.

Other partners: Zavod Kersnikova, Ljubljana, Slovenia