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It's in our Nature

The Community of Symbiosis

What if we use technology to establish and maintain collaborations with nonhuman species?

Is it our duty to repair humankind's mistakes? — © Photographer: Janita Bolhuis

With this project the designer provokes others to rethink our role in relationships with nonhuman species, that are plants, animals and microbes. Especially the role that technology plays in this relationship is explored.

The context

Many scientists describe the current era as the “Anthropocene”, an era characterised by human domination. In this era, we prioritise the needs and benefits of humans over that of others. The many severe environmental, economic and social crises are a result of this era.

The design

The designer proposes an alternative world in which we use artificial skin for underwater breathing technology to establish and maintain multispecies collaboration between Emyle (the human in the pictures) and a water plant called Waterweed, which is very common in Dutch sweet water lakes.

Based on the philosophy of post-anthropocentric philosophers like Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing, she developed this new worldview.

The impact

The design makes us think about the way we implement technologies. But more importantly, it presents us with ethical dilemmas and philosophical questions. Is it our duty to make sacrifices (like undergoing heavy surgery to implement artificial gills) to better collaborate with nonhuman species or to even become more dependable of them? Should we even do this even when there is no direct value for the human as individual? Is it our duty to make up for the mistakes of humankind? Or is it just to stay out of nature to give it a chance to reestablish a balance without human interference? What is our role in nature or what should it be?

About Loes Voermans

Loes seeks and expands problems by provoking discussion and critical reflection. She does this through thought experiments, which are embodied as speculative designs executed through various media. They provide a safe and comfortable space for exploring new futures and realities.
Should we strengthen symbiosis with other species? — © Photographer: Janita Bolhuis