Bruno Latour

“How do you change your situation? What is the mechanism by which you change your life? That’s politics. That’s the political question. It’s about negotiation, or it’s about revolution, or it’s about terrorism, or it’s about careful step-by-step planning – all of this is political in nature. It’s about how people, when they get together, agree to change their situation. ”

Lebbeus woods

“The last hundred years have demonstrated empirically that if an organism or aggregate of organisms sets to work with a focus on its own survival and thinks that that is the way to select its adaptive moves, its 'progress' ends up with a destroyed environment. If the organism ends up destroying its environment, it has in fact destroyed itself.”

The Darwinian paradigm

“Space appropriation” by Maria Lucia

Project Diagnosis:

Ontological Ecology of echoes

“When Nature takes back, a social story”

1. Concept 2. Trajectory/ background 3. Symptoms: illness/malfunctions 4. Science and art 5. The House 5.1. Concept 5.2. Description of the Structure 5.2.1. Security measurements 5.2.2. External visitors and collaboration 5.2.3. After the end: What is left? 6. Performance 6.2. Duration 7. Research 7.1. Methodology 7.2. Research and Residencies 8. Collaborations/ Partners

Everything that lives and cohabits on earth is composed by mechanisms of living processes: animist encounter on reading the traces of life, growth and infiltration. The research addresses the space as a living organism, a body. It suspends, a poetic and symbolic interference that proposes the illness of the space as a metaphor, a reveal of spatial malfunctions, disabilities, and failures of its metabolism. The transformation on the space involves a methodology, trying to understand how organisms grow in common grounds of invasion, infiltration, catastrophe and collapse: the hierarchical empowerment and its impact on society and environment. The relation between humanity and nature is presented as a parasitism and a collective change in any direction it grows. The human being is perceived as active absorber, a spreading cancer while the environment is perceived as the empowered patient, the host. The research encounter development of an idea based on the construction of a habitat. It is presented as iconic symbol of home and common ground for familiar happenings in society. It reveals an organic appropriation of the space: a scenario of changes within the ultimate revenge from nature towards humanity. The interference of termites is essential on the degradation process of the house: by eating the wood the structure will collapse. The presence, participation and performance of human, is presented by its living daily life and the adaptation along the changes that might happen until the end of the collapsing process. The surrounding reality is presented as the main entrance for a social sculpture. Through an ontological system, based on rethinking the immanent world of living beings, that invade alter and affect its own trajectory. A survival, a reconstruction of what is lost in order to recover what is present. A given tool, an ideological filter of reality defined by the natural cycle of nature processes. A socio-Political re-construction of “nature to nature”.

Under the umbrella of Apass artistic research program in Belgium, one-year research has been followed in 2009/2010. An intuitive approach, which involves a deep rethink: about Human and Nature politics, space diagnosis and its symbiotic mutual relation.

A research that rethinks space as a living organism. A poetic and symbolic exercise that proposes the illness of the space as a metaphor, revealing the spatial malfunctions and disabilities, its failing organs and metabolism.

The end presentation, was a research station: S.O.S. Space Ontology Station, a reveal of semiotic analysis that transposes our understanding of physical illness to ‘illness’ as a property of space: as the visible outcome of the invisible symptoms in the spatial organism, partly through human interference. Symptoms such as ‘damaged’, ‘abandoned’, ‘broken’, ‘bruised’, ‘wounded’, ‘forgotten’, were diagnosed through actions and interventions that made the metaphor visible. In order to re-write the physical damage of the patient/space, the healing process revealed concepts of topography and space surgery. The research relates the singularity and weakness of humanity to the complex layering of nature’s politics and the impact of human interference within natural processes. It reveals the cataclysm of nature and its natural resistance against humanity.  Using the reference of the cordyceps (a kind of mushroom) as organisms that invade, alter and affect the behaviour of the host, the station was a research-in-progress: an animist approach to reading the traces of life in the space.

The perception and analyses of illness that invade the spatial organism, is settled in different categories and levels, namely spatial invasion and Human disorder. Each disorder is related metaphorically to social behavior within human relations.

Briefly the spatial interferences are:

Infrastructures on urban ground/ Infrastructure on political ground

“When Nature takes back”, concept embodied by termites, considered as a very destructive fungus, it migrates from natural environments to metropolis, in order to invade structures, and provoke its entire collapse. / Concept embodied by , such as capitalism empowerment: invasion and manipulation, extraction of lower stratus, undeveloped cultures and weak social systems. Non-deliberated consumption and extraction of natural resources. It is explicit and visible infiltration and it provokes evident collapse.

“Sick building syndrome”, occurs mainly in offices, where precarious ventilation enhances irritations in different parts of employee’s bodies. It provoke chronic fatigue, irritability, depression… / Occurs mainly in political systems where precarious measurements are postulating the calamity of social stratus. It is a legitimize impact on society it imply suffering, sacrifice and subordination.

“Opportunistic Biodegradation”, mold intervention, organism that grows in dead organic mater and causes its decomposition. / Financial rescue, it is a system that grows in political grounds that have been collapsed by the means of economical collapse, impact of capitalism system, religious controversies, post-war scenarios and post-environmental disasters.

“Invasive patterns”, mushroom house: grow in very dark and moisture environments, they appear in conditions where there was recent flooding or leaks in the structures of the house. Normally this fungus appears as a pattern drawing on concrete walls. / It occurs in condition of opportunistic licks in the system. It draws a dual pattern that lay on the controversial imagery of democracy and its application in reality.

What are the borders of raising a poetical awareness and a political change? How to bring change and awareness into the system, by not staying in a poetical level? How to create interference on the ecosystem by the means of creation? How to reveal the moment when Nature Takes Back by creating mechanisms that interfere in the low, in the political system, in the environment and in society? How to bring science, art and architecture in a collaborative project?

Political /ecological art does not sick to protect nature, it seek to generate changes. If the truth is living under need the surface of artistic research, this project is meant to reclaim the ultimate truth from nature to nature. It is not suppose to be a product of artistic research, but interference in the system of nature: resulting from collaboration between art/architecture and science.

The more we know about Nature, the more visible and inspiring the paradoxes of Nature become. The More Science presents its wisdom of understanding and presenting the mysteries of Nature, the more complex become life. The more artists try to remove the skin of “political body”, the more visible become the need of scientific facts. Both are researching the human nature and its metabolism, both are revealing the perceptions of the lows of life. We are no longer asking who are “we”? We are questioning the impact of this “we”. No matter, how science try’s to present the truth, we should notice that is not the only truth, every system recognizes and applies its own democratic or non democratic truth. But if we all remain within separated truths, in an era of globalization, our truths will remain at the surface, because we should be honest and agree that singular actions are no longer enough to reveal a global change, when at our side the world economy is collapsing. Now, what is this change that I’m trying to reveal? Is it an individual change, which is confined by the means of creation? Or it is a change where creation is not able to raise alone? And actually, what will it change?

Starting from the statement that this is a project in collaboration with Science and Art. One of the main goals is two interfere in the low of nature by mirroring the human impact: which means that we will interfere in the ecosystem, by generating a system that is in the edge of creating an epidemic. The idea is to cross legally the borders between France and Belgium with the termites in a van and place them underneath the house. In order to make it legal, a series of negations with the environmental low will occur during the next year. It should be visible that there is a trajectory, a discussion between art science and low. By bringing a species that doesn’t belong to Belgium ecosystem, it will raise speculations amongst environmentalists, politicians and society. It can have a frightening impact and it can raise critics amongst media. But what is a minor epidemic amongst so many other calamities happening right now in our planet? I have to paraphrase that there is no intentions of eco-terrorism: it is meant to be a controlled and save house, where actually I will be living inside, so I have any intentions of participating in my own collapse. Lets make it clear that this project is an collaboration between art and science, therefore there is a scientific research methodology to create safety measurements, to prevent any possibility of termites escape. We have to mention that it is also laboratory for scientific research on termites: because this species are a discovery of science on a new way of generating bio fuel, so imagine that termites by eating cellulose can generate methane? The house will generate a product that is essential for the era of ecological solutions. Other aspect of our collaboration is to build a sustainable house which is independent from all systems, it generate its own light, water, gas and sustenance for the habitant by its permaculture garden.. This garden will lead us to other research: as the termites are decomposers, and very valuable in the ecosystem, by breaking down woody material by decomposing the soil and creating ventilation corridors, they will be very helpful for the growing of the vegetables on termites.

So for all the means of scientific research and artistic creation, the idea is to find strategies to make legal the “entrance” of termites in the country. It is a question of authority and hierarchy of powers. How to interfere in the ecosystem of a country by following the rules of environmental low? How capitalism system interfere in the ecosystem by exploiting its natural resources and by implementing artificial resources. That is the paradox, if capitalism system and politics can interfere in the low of nature. Together: Art and Science can find strategies to undergo the low. Because by persuading a rhetorical quest of ecological solutions for our society, we are able to join forces and generate systems of contra-actions upon the system.

As we are building a study case in several directions: such as permaculture garden and sustainable ways of living in a era of crises: it is very interesting to make this house as a research station for scientists, researchers, artists and anyone interested in general.

Europe governments are not supporting completely independent systems, which means sustainable houses with any economical interests, such as water, electricity and gas. This house is a model of sustainable living where there is no relation to capitalism system: it is a model of sustainable ways of living, that follow the principle that nature is no longer nature, we are surrounded by nature which is created for human purposes where capitalism system leads and owns the food market and all sort of nature resources. It is a spreading cancer through every house in society. So why not create our own independency, by growing our own nature around our house. With this house we invite people to assist, to help and maintain the garden, to propose new ideas and reuses of the vegetables from the garden, and even create and sell their biologic products. It is an open laboratory with intentions to invite several artists and scientist to present sustainable ways of living. The moments of presentations can be in a format of workshop, intervention, lecture or performance. It is an exchange moment, which will open moments of discussions with public.

Scientists claim art as a mediator to communicate scientific facts within climate change while the era of communication is part of a past. We have to find strategies to interfere in the low of all systems. This project is only a start, maybe utopian, but it has the intention to reveal the power of art and science to raise awareness, create statements, to reveal the truth. To present to society the possibilities of creating sustainable ways of living, even in wounded environments such as this house. To experience the moment when Nature takes back, and still Survive. To make people believe that even not believing on individual changes we should keep on raising changes.

The actual state of the existent non-symbiotic relation of humanity and Nature, remains an unstable concern amongst contemporary philosophers and scientists. The second decade of 21st century is perceived as a utopian illusion of hope, as an inner scar deep inside the heart of humanity. We live a era of controlling, reliant, obsessed capitalism system which is growing towards its economical collapse. The reality which humans suspends its own existence towards the capitalism system, reveals a armful threat towards nature and worse then that towards human extinction. Nature will allways survive. The question is, will human race survive? It is desperated needed a constant search to bring the meaning of nature, to avoid what is beyond the purposes, advantages, and selvagery of humanity. A socio-Political contruction of “nature to nature” remaining a fertile symbiosis with our planet. The strategy of a collaborative reflection within science and art to achieve changes: It is a inherent concern amongst artists as negotiators and mediators of science throw social stratus. A stimutaltion of society instints, as an independance form that neglets the non democratic imposicions of capitalism system. A survival tool, a reconstruction of what is lost, in order to recover what is present. A ideological filter of reality, defined by the natural facts and laws of nature. A revolution, a change, a memorial, an historical artistic intervention.


The intention is to research about sustainable strategies to build a wounded house, as if its surrounding reality is presented as the main entrance for a “wounded social sculpture”. The house is a result of a research done during two years about wounded spaces. It is a construction of an architecture body, which has an internal dysfunction on its own metabolism. It is a body that grows out of alienation within its own species, others species and the environment where it grows. As if it’s born out of an existent infected body, like a spreading cancer. The idea suspends an ontological reference to the past, present and future alienation and contamination amongst species, nature and cultures.

Design by Ken de Cooman

The collapse encounters a metaphorical approach that suspends the idea of societies on its floating economical and capitalistic system. The house will be suspended in only one point, which sustains both living systems, the space and the individual, the artist and its own creation, the environment and humanity, the present and the future, life and dead. It reveals a mutual collapse, which is only possible by the interference of non-existent species in the Belgium ecosystem: Termites. The process remains a survival, an appropriation of organic material from termites: by eating the wood, architectonic paths will be assembled in the house, and at the same time the new paths will lead the structure until its own collapse. The moment of collapse reveals the moment when nature takes back: internal body collapse. Where the wisdom and power of human society is not able to interfere in the process of drowning systems. Where there is no point of return. It is a reference of unexpected collapses which by the lows of nature the end is never predicted.

We live an era of crises and catastrophes, we are the spectators of one after the other: a social epidemic. More and more the increasing numbers of victims from economical crises, climate change, natural catastrophes, from 21st century spreading diseases coming from alienated food, air, earth and oceans. Nature is dead. We are no longer humans. It is a visceral system where capitalism is a spreading cancer. The house encounter a poetic decay driven by a survival revenge from living systems that by being displaced from its own ecosystem, became the means of total destruction. The revenge of Nature. The time duration is one of the principal fundaments in the creation of the art piece, it remains a temporary creation, which depend on the interference and action of living organisms: Termites. Therefore the end is decided by nature.

5.2. Description of the structure:

It is a house, a living organism within its own ecosystem, and mechanisms of sustainability. In order to build a house, in a territory of changes and interconnectivity, the idea is to construct an entire system of sustainable energy, water and gas supply. In order to build an independent house that works on its own, it is necessary to assemble a system that is not part of any existent system. By learning from the laws of nature in its complex diversity, resources and life systems, the idea is to create a system where it can be implemented a micro-cosmos

      where both human and nature are taking care of each other. Therefore the wooden house will be surrounded by a permaculture garden. It is important to generate new life by using the existent properties of the soil and as the benefits of termites as decomposers, they will be very helpful for the growing of the vegetables.  By having a dual and paradox role, the termites function as powerful machine of destruction within                  human habitat and at the same time as a benefit for its own survival by helping to

maintain the source of food. Therefore the survival of the artist will be provided by a sustainable garden. Eventually there will be also some chickens because they love termites.Design by Ken de Cooman Side prespective

In order to have a quick collapse (less then 6 months) all the strength of the house will be suspended in only one foundation, the structure is suppose to work as a domino system. As we have been talking about a project that is suppose to be a metaphor for the existent collapses in society, also the architecture principles are generated by an hierarchic system of collapse, that suspends all its strength in only one point which logically is connected to all the others foundations of the structure. It is a reflection of globalization, capitalism and economic system. There is no escape concerning collapses, once one system drowns, all the rest will come slowly down.

Design by Ken de Cooman Domino samples

As we all remain to a “democratic system”, where the truth is hidden by systems of power relations upon systems with any believes of strength, also the architectonical perspective approaches a strategy that makes invisible the traces of collapse. Therefore it will not be visible any trace of instability, insecurity: the evidences are placed underground, so that on a aesthetic and superficial level nothing is visible. The lighting will be provided by solar panel. However the lighting is a symbolism of its own, the house undergoes a system similar to photosynthesis, like a living laboratory, which works entirely by solar power. During the day the light is externally absorbed and during the night the light is expanded through the holes and slots that over time the termite’s decomposition of the space. The house will be constructed in soft wood, pine or poplar, which is the favourite food of termites. To have effective decay, every element of this house will be made out of wood, including furniture.

Design by Ken de Cooman Plan of the house

5.2.1.Security measurements:

The wooden house will be surrounded by a second structure as incubation system. It is a “cube” inside a “cube”. The second cube works as physical protection for termites escape, it will be made out of a repulsive film (barrier for termites). The underground protection is 5 meters deep, and it needs a second layer in cement. Because the termites will be first placed under need the structure, and they need time and space to adapt to a new ecosystem. Duo to its own danger of epidemic propagation in the Belgian ecosystem, the house will be constructed in isolated site location. As a security, there will be a corridor from where the public will enter. This corridor is divided in two rooms: in one there will be a shower and the other a changing room. The visitors must wear protective clothes to enter and must take a shower before they live so that there will be any risk of taking a termite in their cloths.

Because the artist is living inside the house, the construction will be properly planned so that the collapse is “slightly and controlled”. “If will ever be possible, to control a collapse”.

Design by Ken de Cooman Perspective of the house

5.2.3. External visitors/ audience participation:

First of all the house is a meeting laboratory, therefore all living beings are invited to contribute in this human reflection. Duo to the social interconnectivity, the project presents a collaborative methodology as external intervenient. The process of collapsing is a reflection of human interference. As an ultimate, to reveal collapses of a social sculpture, the physical and conceptual intervention of artists, scientists, philosophers, politicians, economists, students… The intervention can be in any format, with pre-negotiation and agreement, therefore it can turn into a discussion, a dialogue, exchange, a physical intervention in the structure or with the performer, a help to maintain the garden and so on… As we are living in a moment of historical crises, environmental catastrophes, economical collapse, climate change and so on, the house should be a turning point within the tendency of society to sit and watch, to assume its position as an audience waiting for the apocalypse. It is a decision of visitors to enter the house: at any time it can collapse, so they are aware about the fact that they take the risk to be part of the collapse. The spectatorship, become a power relation within choices that transposes the role of the spectator within the borders of real life and artificial reality. Although the house is placed in the public space, the reality confined by the space it is part of the same reality that the spectator come from, as if all the elements are part of the same city: Giant Scenario. The meaning of collective social behaviour is a reflection and action upon the life. How do we change our situation? The spectator can choose to have a passive or active role within the apocalyptical, aesthetic, ethic, moral and political change. The house is a meeting place, a working space and living space. It will be the decision of the spectator, to keep this house alive or to help to collapse faster…the visitors are invited to propose solutions to our actual state.

5.2.2. After collapsing: What is left?

The end of the project is an historical moment. It is a collapse caused by artistic and scientific creation, interference, and approval. There is no intentions to use the termites only as tool to achieve the goal. The termites are a symbolic use of nature to reveal its benefits and its destructive influence. The intention is too reuse every thing that is left and to recycle its waste. During the living period of this house there will be scientific investigation in how to recover the termites, either bringing back to its belonging place in France, or to reuse for social proposes. Still ongoing research.

6.1. Concept

The performance encounters a physical and mental adaptation to changes in the space. The acceptance and the unexpected intervention involves an understanding that the artist witnesses the transformation of the space in her daily live, since the idea is to stay inside the house until its collapse, as if it is her own home. The production of new meanings occurs when the metaphor is expressed by interference in everyday life, such as the decomposition of the furniture, openings and grooves in the structure of the house. The confrontation with dead is evidenced by the presence of mechanisms that lead the house to its decomposition. The daily experience with unexpected collapse requires an understanding of psychological and physical interferences in the space. The confrontation with his own existence belongs to the combination of a spiritual and existential hierarchy as confrontation and acceptance to her own dead. The decomposition process, is illustrated by the space diagnosis and its pragmatic relationship between the metaphor and the effect of interference of termites in the structure. The time lived in the house, will provide the continuation of scientific models and meta language: in the description, classification and analysis of space as a living organism.

The artist will experience the decomposition of its territory, and without any attempt to rescue or restore her habitat, she will face its own collapse. However, there will be punctual moments where the artist will also go outside. The focus of the project is not on isolation and rejection of one single individual from the system, but on the experience of its own collapse within a normal life, without making any action to stop it. Nature will always survive. It is planned a clinical psychological following from specialists in order to understand and analyze the interferences and impact on the body and mind of the performer. It is important to keep the health conditions of the performer and keep the balance in order to not lead the body into extreme situations.

Thorough a politic system, based on rethinking the immanent world of existing beings, the construction of an habitat, is the place where one single human is living: researching the significance and unconditional relationship between humanity and environment and its response towards a collapse and extinction.

6.2. Duration:

Once the order corresponds to the time when the collapse occurs in the house, this is a long-term performance with no scheduled date for an end. The duration is defined by the speed with which organisms take ownership of the space. The end, is the moment when the nature conquers the human habitat. However, the forecast is calculate for about six months.

7.1. Methodology

Research period, works as a political awareness within the collapsing methodology. It is period to focus on the development of strategies on the collapsing systems. Research methodology: It is a project in collaboration with science/ architecture/ art

Scientific research together with cirad institute in Montpellier about termites. Namely its biology, social organization, habitat, human interaction, ecology and its reuse, impact on the ecosystem, benefits, history, relation with other species, infestation control…. Wood terminology and composition (termites related) Finding strategies to transport legally the termites from France to Belgium. Working together with a lower on finding methodologies to approach the environmental and ecosystem protection department. Naming the project as a scientific research, will present a educational study plan. Understanding and analyses of all kind of living organisms that provokes decay on architecture buildings. Architecture research and design in collaboration with Ken de Cooman from BuildingCaseStudies. Architectural plan, sustainable system plan, safety measurements for the house incubation, temperature regulation, light, materials. Research and development on political awareness within the collapsing systems. Creation of collapse simulations within propaganda and graphical interventions in the public space. Simulations and research of collapses that are happening now. Imagine how it would be in 20 years? A cycle of catastrophes that had happen in the past and that will keeping happening in the future. Performance research, namely impact on health, adaptation and survival strategies into collapse scenarios. Research on the confrontation with dead, living systems and its relation to other species, in this case, find ways to live in harmonious environment with termites. Finding strategies on collapse survival. Continuously meetings in order to exchange information with specialists, environmentalist, artists, scientist architects Soundscape, research together with a sound designer in order to record and document the entire process of termites interference on the wood.

Video documentation:

1. Document the entire process, such as meetings with lower, scientist, environmentalist, collecting of the termites, building of the first maquete…

2. Document the decay and eventually collapse. The idea is to record from all the angles and inside the wood the all process of the termites interference. And eventually present 24h life in different art institution in Belgium or if invitations will rise, it‘s a possibility to stream internationally and create a network where the audience can follow the collapse. Website design, in order document the all process of the project, and stream 24h life in different art institution.

7.2. Research and Residencies:

Past research:

2009/2010 Advanced studies in scenography, apass January 2011 Residency in

Future research: From 15th of October till 30th of October - From 24th of November till 03 of December From 15th Of January till 29th of January

Presentation of the project:

Past presentation: 21/06/2011 Summercampelectried at timelabé-0 Future presentation: 12th of December Research gathering at

This project aims an intersection and collaboration between art, science and architecture.

The organizations involved and committed to this project are: Centre of agricultural research and development that provides the scientific, in the decomposition process and interference of termites in the house. ( Nicolas Leménager is the scientist involved on the project.

The architecture studio, BCS (BuildingCaseStudies) which aims the study and design of the house and its decomposition as an architectural structure witch ensure an effective collapse. Ken de Cooman is the architect involved on the project.

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