Satellite Projects
Looking for Stigmergy
Looking for Stigmergy Team
Project description

Supported by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Istanbul.

Stigmergy can be understood as a mode of collective survival based on group intelligence. It does not depend on the performance of a single agent or individual but on the repetition of simple actions or activities made by multiple organisms at once.

Episode II: From Virus Mutation to Global Supply Chains presents the installation Sempitèrno, a support structure for one of the most famous flowers in the world —the tulip.  Known as the symbol of two countries Turkey and The Netherlands, the Tulip has been a central subject in the evolution of desire, material culture, production, consumption and creativity, for centuries. Inspired by the case study of the Sempre Augustus— the most expensive bulb in history, whose beauty was the consequence of an involuntary virus mutation—, Sampitèrno reflects on how natural events trigger or are appropriated by new economies, market sectors and speculative narratives where design plays a fundamental role. The project searches for these links in contemporary local and global networks of objects, makers and consumers —extending from tulip species, land cultivation systems, craft, technological solutions, souvenirs, representational motifs, flower supply chains, physical markets, online platforms and import-export policies. Developed and designed with Minji Choi, with the support of Istanbul collaborators, SUPER NORMAL and Seda Baydur.

Episode II will be installed in the garden of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Istanbul and open to visit in June 2021. It will also be visible online at Looking for Stigmergy.

Episode I: From Underwater to Outer Space is composed of six units of information and inquiries that cross the Earth, penetrating geological strata and geographical terrains through a stigmergic lens, with particular attention to its relationship with concepts of empathy. These units take the form of videos selected from the work of first-year Master Students at the Design Academy Eindhoven, developed between March-June 2020 in the program “Stigmergy Collaborative Project”. The participating students are Ramon Jimenez Cardenas, Paula Chang, Tzuyen Chen, Rona David, Laura Deschl, Hi Kyung Eun, Jonas Hejduk, Claire Matthews, Valentine Maurice, Juliette Mirabitto, Daatje Vera Noot, Chanbyul Park, Pauline Rip, Emma Schep,  Rebecca Schedler, Bianca Schick, Carlos Sfeir, Soyoun Shin, Beatriz Sousa, Maren Bang Tøndevold and Alexandre Varnier. The program was mentored by Frans Bevers, Gabriel Fontana, Jesse Howard, Michelle Kasprzak, Irene Stracuzzi, and Yvonne Droge Wendel, coordinated by Charlotte Bijl and curated by Martina Muzi. 

Episode I is online at Looking for Stigmergy and was launched online on 26 February 2021 at 1.30 pm CET through a radio conversation with the participants. The launch event was moderated by Good Times Bad Times, a Rotterdam-based radio station run by Jack Bardwell (UK), Benjamin Earl (UK), and Kirsten Spruit (NL). 

Looking for Stigmergy is an ongoing inquiry into the languages of design and its systems. It is a search for new paradigms and tools that travel across disciplines and via modes of existence beyond the human. It addresses the epistemology of design in order to consider and incorporate not only man as a transforming force but also other organisms and systems. It considers that social atomisation, political distrust, and the perceived inevitability of progressive impoverishment are the reactions to a one-sided story of how we belong to and shape the networks that surround us, just as the mass extinction of species is the consequence of a one-sided trajectory of human civilisation. 

Looking for Stigmergy assumes the shape of a growing online platform, which expands, contracts and morphs depending on the context or institution in which it operates. The platform is ‘fed’ through temporary exhibitions, pedagogical experiments, round-table conversations, conferences, and publications, through physical and non-physical means.


The project is curated by Martina Muzi (Italy), a designer, curator and tutor at Design Academy Eindhoven and edited by Chiara Clarke Siravo (Italy) a historian and curator, with the graphic identity and website by Kirsten Spruit (The Netherlands).

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