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Forms of Intelligence

A project 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 seeks 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 this project has explored these questions through: remote 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.


Knowle West resident Tatiana Powell took part in a digital journalism paid internship from Feb-Aug. 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, funghi, butterflies, local wildlife, soil, coral, gardening, bees, dogs, birds, robotics, wearables, performance and visual arts!


You can listen to these podcasts HERE


Through the spring / summer lockdown of 2020 eight people who had been involved in the podcast interviews came together via zoom 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. We 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.

You can see a preview of the cards and accompanying booklet HERE

You can buy a set of the cards HERE


This 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 on or 07799067031


Some inspirational listening and reading:

How do we define intelligence? How do we decide which animals posses it? PODCAST

The Secret Life of Plants: how they memorise, communicate and problem solve ARTICLE



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

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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