To mark the launch of SPUN - Society for the Protection of Underground Networks, I'm releasing early the mycorrhizal fungi-related sections of my new film This Entangled Land, which features an interview I did with SPUN co-founder Prof. Toby Kiers about fungal networks in soil and my artwork on the subject. I've been gratefully drawing on Kiers Lab research for many years, particularly in relation to my project Producers-Parasites-Hosts 2012-2018 (see elsewhere on this site).
Sound from the installation in VU Amsterdam.
This edit was made for a busy, noisy thoroughfare.
Annabel Howland’s artistic research weaves a speculative web connecting art, science and finance. In her ongoing project Producers-Parasites-Hosts, such themes as cheating and cooperation, transparency and instability, profit and loss, intermingle with stories of microbial cooperation, dark pools and human debt. The multimedia presentation at VU during GET LOST – art route concludes this phase in her research. The installation in the central hall and corridor of VU’s main building comprises drawings and text printed on translucent film mounted on the windows, audio, photographs, plant roots and more.
Prompted by the consequences of the 2008 global financial crisis, Annabel Howland launched this research-based art project in 2012. These conversations have given rise to a multitude of forms – from paintings, diagrams, texts and publications to lectures and sound installations – presented over recent years in various contexts.
Throughout Producers-Parasites-Hosts, Howland has followed closely research by VU Professor of Mutualistic Interactions, Toby Kiers. Kiers has drawn on economics models for her research into the trade in nutrients between plants and fungi in the soil. Howland broadened this conversation by engaging with VU Professor of Finance, Albert Menkveld, around his work on flash crashes and robotic trading.
Artists and scientists explore the world at fundamental levels, driven by a deep curiosity about the substance of life and matter. The creative process of examining a subject from different angles and passing it through a range of media and artistic languages opens up new perspectives for the viewer, for imagination, and for nuanced reflection.
Clare Butcher wrote the essay to accompany the exhibition Do you read me? Really read me?
This installation was commissioned by VU Amsterdam and was generously co-funded by the Mondriaan Fund.
GET LOST – art route generates art in public space by partnering organisations in Amsterdam’s commercial district, Zuidas, with artists. For this edition the artists were invited to reflect on the idea of CODE OF CONDUCT.
GET LOST – art route 2018 received generous support from VU, AFK, Zuidas, City of Amsterdam, and the Mondriaan Fund through its programme Experimental Regulations.
For the map, audio work and the most up-to-date information on the programme, tours and performances, go to www.getlost-artroute.com
Photos by Jan Theun van Rees and Annabel Howland
TRIANGULATIONS (PRODUCERS-PARASITES-HOSTS FLEVOPARK)
Het Rode Loper Festival during Neighbourhood Camping Flevopark, Amsterdam, 2018
"Triangulation is a method of mapping and measuring space. For her site-specific sound-piece 'Triangulations', Annabel Howland interviewed a number of people who live or work in the fringes of the Flevopark. Some of them have been instrumental in establishing community gardens, allotments and flowerbeds on neglected or disused bits of ground. Others are scientists working in the neighbouring Science Park: biologists researching how fungi and plants communicate, trade and cooperate in the soil; and physicists learning about neutrinos – electrically neutral, subatomic particles that enter the earth in a straight line from space, passing through any matter they encounter on the way.
The conversations are edited against background-sound recordings of the Flevopark with its mingling of wildlife and traffic sounds; of the serendipitous sound of Woody Guthrie’s 'This Land is Your Land' on a car radio while driving along a Borneo logging road; and the Borneo rainforest, by day and night.
To get to Flevopark, you travel along the streets Borneo, Java, Nias, Soembawa, Ceram, Kramat or Insulinde, the colonial nickname for the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia).
Themes of growth, cooperation, trade, networks, interaction and survival crisscross through this site-specific audio work."
With special thanks to Lize Kelderman for lending her sound capsule and to Susan Meyerink, Liesbeth Aué, Wiek de Keijser, Irena Kristofiakova, Prof. Els Koffeman (NIKHEF), Prof. Toby Kiers (VU), Victor Armini Caldas (VU/Amolf), Annegien van Doorn, Rolf Bron, Rein Jelle Terpstra and Robert Bosch.
TRIANGULATIONS (PRODUCERS-PARASITES-HOSTS FLEVOPARK)
Het Rode Loper Festival tijdens Buurtcamping Flevopark Amsterdam 2018
"Triangulation (oftewel 'driehoeksmeting') wordt gebruikt om ruimte te meten of in kaart te brengen. Voor haar audio-installatie 'Triangulations' interviewde kunstenaar Annabel Howland mensen die in de zoom van het Flevopark wonen of werken. Sommigen hebben een belangrijke rol gespeeld bij het vestigen van gemeenschappelijk tuinen, moestuinen en bloemenperken op verwaarloosde of ongebruikte percelen. Anderen zijn wetenschappers uit het nabijgelegen Science Park: biologen die onderzoeken hoe fungi en planten communiceren, voedingsstoffen uitwisselen en samenwerken in de aarde; en natuurkundigen die zich verdiepen in minuscule deeltjes (neutrino’s), die de aarde vanuit de ruimte in een rechte lijn bereiken en door alles heen gaan dat ze tegenkomen, zonder deze te beïnvloeden.
De gesprekken spelen zich af in een wisselend geluidslandschap waarin het Flevopark te herkennen valt, met haar unieke symfonie van vogel- en verkeersgeluiden. Tussendoor is het liedje “This Land is Your Land” van Woody Guthrie te horen, opgenomen van de autoradio tijdens een rit langs een houtkapweg op Borneo. Of de geluiden van een ongerept stuk regenwoud op Borneo overdag en een ander plek in het regenwoud ’s nachts.
Zo speelt deze audio installatie met thema’s als groei, samenwerking, handel, netwerken, interactie en overleving, die kriskras door elkaar heen lopen.
Met speciale dank aan: Lize Kelderman, voor het lenen van haar geluidscapsule, en Susan Meyerink, Liesbeth Aué, Wiek de Keijser, Irene Kristofiakova, Prof. Els Koffeman (NIKHEF), Prof. Toby Kiers (VU), Victor Armini Caldas (VU/Amolf), Annegien van Doorn, Rolf Bron, en Robert Bosch.
FUNGI & CENTIPEDE GAME (2015)
Producers-Parasites-Hosts (fungi), installation in Residu#3 at Kunsthal 45, Den Helder (group show of recent residents of Het Pompgemaal, Den Helder, NL).
fungi comprises a book (fungi) of images and quotes relating to the project and the sound in the installation; a cylindrical light box with mycorrhizal fungi in a plant root photographed through a microscope; stereo sound piece Centipede Game – On Cheating (14 minutes) on headphones; gouache drawings of felt-tip markings taken from petri dishes containing experiments with hairy carrots and fungi reproduced on translucent film and mounted on the windows; gouache paintings on paper of the same experiments (without the blue felt-tip markings). The circular benches are remnants of the space’s previous incarnation as a billiard hall.
(ON CHEATING) (2014)
Installation in Pakhuis Wilhelmina, Amsterdam (2014).
6-channel sound, gouache, photographs.
The installation comprises gouache painted directly onto the wall, two photographs, and a six-channel sound piece playing, radio-like, around the space with the voices of Tony Curzon Price (economist and former editor of “openDemocracy”), Toby Kiers (URC Prof. of Mutualistic Interactions, VU University Amsterdam), Albert Menkveld (URC Prof. of Finance, VU University Amsterdam) and Gregory Wyatt (Oxford University). In this ‘collaged conversation’, the participants ponder the centipede game, financial bubbles, algorithmic trading, cultures of trust, cheating, relatedness, and non-cognitive decision-making.
The gouache wall-paintings are based on photographs I took of hairy-carrot root cultures and fungi experiments at Kiers’ lab at VU University. The two photographs show two different petri dishes containing hairy carrot and fungi experiments (photos: Daniel Engelmoer, Dept of Ecological Science, VU University Amsterdam). These experiments investigate symbioses between plants and fungi; the degree to which and under what conditions they trade nutrients and the outcomes of these markets.
Photos: Jan Theun van Rees
Pompgemaal Den Helder, 2014
This is documentation of the work I made during my two month residency in Het Pompgemaal Den Helder. The installation comprised paintings (gouache and watercolour on paper), handwritten quotes from a range of sources, and a five-channel sound piece playing, radio-like, around the space with the voices of Tony Curzon Price (economist and former editor of “openDemocracy”), Toby Kiers (URC Prof. of Mutualistic Interactions, VU University Amsterdam), and Albert Menkveld (URC Prof. of Finance, VU University Amsterdam).
The gouaches are based on photographs I took last year of experiments carried out in Kiers’ lab at VU University using hairy-carrot root cultures and fungi in petri dishes with grids drawn on the lids in blue felt-tip pen. The watercolours are studies of the plant Medicago truncatula jemalong A17 which, like the hairy carrot, is commonly used in experiments in plant-fungi symbioses. These are interspersed with a number of quotations, handwritten by me, from different sources: Asger Jorn, Against Functionalism, chosen by curator Hilde de Bruijn; an explanation of the petri-dish and grid experiment by Daniel Engelmoer (post doc Dept of Ecological Science, VU University Amsterdam); Thomas Rainsborough’s famous plea for equality and suffrage during the Putney Debates in London in 1647 and Henry Ireton’s equally famous dismissal of it; Martin Luther’s 1524 statement in his Van Verkaufshandlung und Wucher, quoted in David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years on the impossibility of living according to the Gospel, the need to repay debt, and the necessity of the ‘sword of the ruler’ being ‘red and bloody’. These intersect at different points, in different ways, with threads that run through the paintings and the ‘conversation’ in the sound piece: evolution, algorithmic and high-frequency trading, game theory (the centipede game), cultures of trust, cheating, relatedness, matter, and more.
Old Stock Exchange Athens. Site of the performative lectures programme at AGORA.
Hilde de Bruijn during her lecture on the writings of Asger Jorn at the performance of Producers-Parasites-Hosts (Athens Mix) Athens Biennale 2013
(ATHENS MIX) 2013
AGORA, Athens Biennale 2013
Stereo documentation of 4-channel sound performance, 23'
Producers-Parasites-Hosts (Athens Mix) was part of a performative lecture with Hilde de Bruijn (hildegoesasger.org) in the “Non-Serious Lecture Programme” (on economy and value) at the Athens Biennale, November 2013. This work was also published on openDemocracy, 19 February 2014, as part of their Just Money debate.
‘Artists and scientists investigate life and our environment at fundamental levels, driven by a deep curiosity about the substance of life and matter. Wondering what happened to scientists of her generation who moved into finance in the 1980s, artist Annabel Howland tracked some of them down and recorded a series of interviews for her ongoing project Producers-Parasites-Hosts. Through intricate editing, Howland weaves a speculative web connecting art, science and finance. In the narratives that emerge, stories of lasers, kidneys and chemical compounds mingle with microbial cooperation and human debt.’
The lecture with Howland was part of De Bruijn’s research into the relationship between contemporary art practices and the thought and writings of avant-garde artist Asger Jorn (1914-1973). Jorn’s texts occupied an outspoken position in the philosophical debate about the position of the artist in society. De Bruijn´s talk was a non-conclusive attempt to communicate some aspects of these writings in the light of the “Value and Economy” theme of the Athens Biennial lecture series, and against the background metaphor of parasitic/symbiotic life.