by: Christiaan Zwanikken, Emmanuel Grimaud and DM Hoyt
A multisensory journey of speculative science exploring the interaction of plants, humans, technology, and the cosmos.
Zoetropic Centrifuge is a collaborative project developed by artist Christiaan Zwanikken (NL) together with scientists Emmanuel Grimaud (FR) and DM Hoyt (US) as part of the STUDIOTOPIA Art & Science Residency program hosted by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Zwanikken is fascinated with what he calls the "superior sensitivity" of plants, such as the way plants respond to their environment and how they communicate with each other through all kinds of chemical and biological processes. Zwanniken’s new experimental work, Hypergravity Bio Portal, investigates these processes in the form of organic kinetic sculptures. A variety of red-leaved basil plants are grown to maturity over several months in a centrifuge, which produces hyper-gravitational conditions. Hypergravity is able to stimulate plants at a cellular level and changes the physiology in interesting ways.
Hypergravity Bio Portal being installed at Rijksmuseum Twente (photo: Cheryl Schurgers)
In the next phase of the STUDIOTOPIA collaboration, we will work together to further develop Hypergravity Bio Portal as the Zoetropic Centrifuge, a new experience of the kinetic sculpture. We will explore the Zoetropic Centrifuge a more radical viewing of the work, enabling a multisensory journey of speculative science exploring the interaction of plants, humans, technology, and the cosmos.
Does providing simultaneous layered sensory input to both plants and human visitors have the potential to connect them in new ways?
Can the Zoetropic Centrifuge heighten communication and understanding?
In the initial version of the Zoetropic Centrifuge, we plan to set up experiments with thermal imaging cameras and high-speed cameras, as well as audio recording equipment, accelerometers, and data loggers. Thus we seek information leading to a connection with the plants under hypergravity and high rotational speeds.
Developmental version of Hypergravity Bio Portal (rotation paused) (photo: DM Hoyt)
Close-up of red-leaved basil plant grown under hypergravity conditions (photo: DM Hoyt)
In the Zoetropic Centrifuge, we will use the strobe lights to enhance the zoetropic effect, creating mesmerizing, hypnotic, and trippy effects with the potential to draw visitors into an altered state of consciousness and provide a gateway to shifts in perception or behavior.
Zoetropic effects in action on the Hypergravity Bio Portal (photo: Cheryl Schurgers)
We see the Hypergravity Bio Portal not only as an experiment in and via hypergravity but as a platform using plants and speed to change our view of the way we are cosmically grounded, shaking the ground we are (not so) comfortably sitting on (Earth), which is moving but with illusion of stillness. It is time to change our view of Earth itself and, with this aim, the Zoetropic Centrifuge uses Hypergravity Bio Portal to inoculate a new perception of cosmic/earthly dynamics. It generates a little speed shock into the vegetal state and those who empathize with it, acting at a subliminal level to provoke a neuronal discharge and to activate circuits which have never been.
What if plants knew more about the cosmos than we do?
How will they adapt, grow and respond to the Hypergravity Bio Portal?
Could the Zoetropic Centrifuge trigger the next step in the evolution of the human species, or the awakening of a part of the brain that we have never used?
Who knows. The idea of this project is to explore all its potentials: technical and physiological, as well as mystical or cosmological.
Text by Christiaan Zwanikken, DM Hoyt and Emmanuel Grimaud
Videos of the Hypergravity Bio Portal and the Zoetropic Centrifuge
Arte 'Twist' interviewed Christiaan Zwanikken about his most recent work in the framework of Ars Electronica Festival - Studiotopia Journeys, in Sept. 2021.
Find out more about Christiaan Zwanikken (NL).
Find out more about Emmanuel Grimaud (FR).
Find out more about DM Hoyt (US).
Find out more about Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Zoetropic Centrifuge hosted by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is part of the STUDIOTOPIA project supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.