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Forms of Intelligence

Exploring how different forms of animal and plant intelligence could inspire the design of technologies that benefit all living things.

Have you ever thought about how trees or a swarm of bees communicate with each other? Do you feel like you already communicate with your dog or house plant?

We are surrounded by intelligent animals and plants, but how much do we notice or learn from them? Do we feel part of nature or somehow separate?

In 2019 a climate emergency was declared. In 2020 the global pandemic has starkly highlighted the impacts of continued environmental and social injustices. There is an urgency to open our eyes and ears, listen better to what is around us and consider how we can live better together.

This project sought to explore; what could be designed and made to benefit of all living things in more connected ways? How might we think differently about ‘intelligence’ and could we design systems that combine a mix of non-human, artificial and human intelligence?

Through 2020 Forms of Intelligence has explored these questions through podcasting, online workshops and artist commissions. Following a collaborative non hierarchical approach the project is underpinned by an ‘ethics of care’, where all human and non-human collaborators, with very different types of knowledges, are valued.

Podcasts

Knowle West resident Tatiana Powell took part in a digital journalism paid internship from February to August 2020. She worked with KWMC producers to create a series of podcast interviews with people working in the realm of animal, plant or microbial intelligence. She interviewed people from Knowle West, Bristol, Kent, and Colombia ranging in age from 18-80 and including community activists, artists, and researchers with specialisms in: spiders and ants, trees, fungi, butterflies, local wildlife, soil, coral, gardening, bees, dogs, birds, robotics, wearables, performance and visual arts!

Listen to our interview with Ben Barker; Bristol wildlife activist.

You can listen to all of the podcasts here.

Workshops

Through the spring and summer lockdown of 2020, eight people who had been involved in the podcast interviews came together online for a series of workshops to share knowledge, create principles for collaborating well across species and to begin exploring what could be made that could benefit humans, animals, plants and environments in more connected ways.

Artist Commission

We commissioned an artist to respond to the podcasts and online workshops and were thrilled to work with artist, researcher and designer Kaajal Modi. She has created a beautiful set of inspirational prompt cards, provoking us to think more expansively about all living beings.

The ‘Forms of Intelligence; concept cards for co-species care’ are available to download here and the accompanying booklet can be downloaded here.

Ongoing

The project will continue into 2021, with more hands on workshops (when it is safe to do so) that explore materials, sensing technologies and community action around developing deeper ecologies of care.

If you work with or research animals, plants or artificial intelligence and would like to get involved we would love to hear from you.

For more information contact Martha: martha.king@kwmc.org.uk

Credit

The first phase of this project (Jan-Aug 2020) was supported by and made in collaboration with UWE’s Digital Cultures Research Centre.

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
Bristol
BS4 1NL
+44 (0) 117 903 0444
enquiries@kwmc.org.uk

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