Saturday, June 08, 2019

The Silkworm Project

June 8, 2019, 3-6pm

THE SILKWORM PROJECT Workshop gives insight into the artistic research and practice by Vivian Xu and offers a hands-on part, based on artist Vivian Xu's solo exhibition at Art Laboratory Berlin of the same name.

The Introduction___ The artist presented her research and work for the past six years designing computational and machine environments for the silkworm in pursuit of better understanding the insect's spinning behaviour and spatial perception. The talk detailed three perspectives taken during the research process of The Silkworm Project. The first perspective takes a historical and cultural look at the entangled history of weaving and computation history, of sericulture and machine logic. The second attempts to understand the three-dimensional world through the lens for the silkworm. The third attempts to hypothesize a new machine logic combining learned knowledge of the two, that speculates on a new breed of slow technologies or labour machines that reveal a new relationship between the artificial and the natural. The artist also spoke about her current work at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, in which she is creating an artist book that explores the nature of the sericulture treatise, and the relationships between technical treatises and industry production.

The Hands-on part___ Participants were each given silkworms, hand-reared by the artist in Berlin. Following in the footsteps of other researchers such as the Mediated Matter Group at MIT Media Lab, individuals were able to conduct their own spinning observations, posing spatial questions to the animals by constructing three-dimensional environments for their silkworms to live and work within. Art Laboratory Berlin provided basic materials and tools, such as glue, scissors, paper, rulers, etc. to build these environments. Participants were also welcome to bring their own materials. Participants will be able to take their silkworms home, and some silkworm feed provided by Art Laboratory Berlin, along with online resources and manuals. Participants were asked to document their observations and findings.

Vivian Xu (b.1985) is a media artist and researcher from Beijing, currently based in Shanghai. Her work explores the boundaries between bio and electronic media in creating new forms of machine logic, life and sensory systems, and often take the form of object, installation and/or wearable. She has shown, lectured, and preformed at various institutions in China, the US, Germany, and Australia. Vivian co-founded Dogma Lab, a trans-disciplinary design lab in Shanghai that is dedicated to creating experimental research at the intersection of design, technology, art and science. Between 2013-2015, she was Research Fellow at New York University Shanghai. Since then, she has lectured at various universities and programs, including Shanghai Tech University, Chinese University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Campus, Roy Ascott Technoetic Arts program (Shanghai), etc. Her work has been featured in media and press, including VICE China, Elle US, and the China Global TV English Channel, etc. Xu received her MFA in Design and Technology at Parsons the New School for Design in 2013.

This event is based on the ongoing exhibition The Silkworm Project.

The Results___ E
ach of the participants were able to take a silkworm home to grow them and observe their life cycle. Here are some of the results.

Sean's silkworm Carlos from worm to pupa in a cocoon, to eventually a moth. Courtesy of Sean Coughlin.

Flo and Elena's silkworm from worm to pupa in a cocoon. Courtesy of Florence Razoux.

In close cooperation with:

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Vivian Xu - The Silkworm Project - Vernissage

Exhibition: 01 June - 14 July, 2019, Fri-Sun 2-6PM

Opening: 31 May, 8PM

08 June 2019, 3-6PM: Workshop THE SILKWORM PROJECT with Vivian Xu.
@ Art Laboratory Berlin // Registration necessary (
More information

30 June 2019, 3PM: Artist Talk with Vivian Xu and Lisa Onaga (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)
@ Art Laboratory Berlin
More information

04 July 2019: Symposium The Artist-Silkworm Interface: The Agricultural Treatise as Source and Scrutiny for Creating an Artist Book, organised by Lisa Onaga, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin.
Speakers: Vivian Xu, Dagmar Schäfer, Regine Rapp, Anna Grasskamp, Yubin Shen.
@ Harnack House, Ihnestraße 16 – 20 | More information:
Registration necessary by 30 June 2019 (

Vivian Xu is a media artist and researcher based in Shanghai. Her work is situated between bio and electronic media in creating new forms of machine logic, life and sensory systems, and often takes the form of object, installation or wearable.

In The Silkworm Project Vivian Xu explores the possibilities of using silkworms to design a series of hybrid machines capable of producing self-organised 2D and 3D silk structures. Xu wants to understand how far the behaviour of insects can serve as a foundation for technological design. To this end she has developed cybernetic devices based on both biological and computer-controlled logic. In the exhibition a series of interactive machines made of silkworms and electronics will be displayed. The artist-designer works on the creation of self-organised silk structures designed by live silkworms, a posthuman machine.

Art Laboratory Berlin is happy to present Xu’s projects for the first time in Europe.

Read more! 

In close cooperation with Max Planck Institute for the History of Science


Monday, May 27, 2019

DIY HACK THE PANK - Panke Life. Microbiodiversity Workshop

A Workshop with Sarah Hermanutz, India Mansour and Fara Peluso

This workshop wion 26 May, 2019 researched the diversity of invisible life in the Panke River. Choosing a site along the river in Berlin-Wedding artists Fara Peluso and Sarah Hermanutz and microbiologist India Mansour showed participants how to investigate the microbial life and ecologies of an urban waterway. The workshop explored the river and floodplain as microbial habitats, with special emphasis on water, sediment and soil along the riverbanks. Microbial community characteristics, interactions with the environment, and nutrient cycles were discussed and examples sought out.

Participants tested the water for signs of a possible Algal bloom in the coming summer, seek out life through microscopy and built their own Winogradsky columns, which can visualise bacteria and algae, from Panke mud.

Sarah Hermanutz is a visual artist working at the intersections of performance, technology, and ecology. Her sculptures, installations, and performance experiments are preoccupied with wetlands, amphibious creatures, and the mysteries of social cognition. Her artistic research takes place in Berlin at Lacuna Lab, an art and technology collective she co-founded in 2015, and in the media arts department of Bauhaus University Weimar.

Dr. India Mansour researches microbial community structure and function in rivers and soils as a postdoc at the Free University, Berlin - Plant Ecology. She is currently focused on the emerging theoretical framework of community coalescence, which investigates the dynamics that occur when previously distinct microbial communities collide in space. She attained a joint PhD in River Science from Free University - Berlin and Queen Mary University in London.

Artist and designer Fara Peluso's long-term research focuses on potential uses for algae as an environmental regulator, source for sustainable materials, and aesthetic catalyser of biophilia. Her research and practice combine working with biotechnologists and DIY scientists with speculative and critical design to produce a myriad of innovative design and artistic solutions.

DIY Hack the Panke is a collective of artists, scientists and curators exploring the rich historical and ecological heritage of the Panke River in Mitte, Wedding and Pankow. Based at Art Laboratory Berlin, we thank Panke e.V. for their cooperation in this workshop and the Fachbereich Kunst und Kultur Bezirksamt Mitte and the Bezirkskulturfonds for their generous support of our 2019 public programme.

The event invites a wide public without special knowledge and is organised together with DIY Hack the Panke


Cooperation Partners; Panke e.V.

Supported by the Fachbereich Kunst und Kultur Bezirksamt Mitte and the Bezirkskulturfonds: