Uncertainty Seminars: Multispecies (Mis)communication

Saturday 29 February 2020, 15:30 - 21:00 hrs
(walk in: 15:00 hrs)
Location: Stroom, Hogewal 1-9, The Hague
Language spoken: English
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Tickets:  € 7,50 presale (no longer available)
€ 10,- at the door (incl. light meal)

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Participating artists
Jenna Sutela, Adelaide Lala Tam & Kuang-Yi Ku, Missouri Williams, Marjanne van Helvert, Thijs de Zeeuw, James Massiah and more.

For a notorious experiment conducted in the 1960s, NASA moved three of the stars of the television show Flipper (Sissy, Pamela, and Peter) to a research laboratory on the Caribbean. Their young researcher Margaret Lowe Howell moved into the facilities full-time to teach the pre-pubescent bottle nose dolphin Peter to speak English. Twice daily, she conducted lessons to teach him to enunciate the phrase ‘hello Margaret'. The ‘m' sound proved incredibly difficult for Peter, and the experiment was soon defunded. Research priorities have since shifted to focus on the complexity of other species' own means of communicating, rather than teaching them English.

Since the attempts to make celebrity dolphins part of the anglosphere, artists and scientists have found numerous ways to approach nonhuman communication: from having sheep play Shakespeare, creating a language for the future inhabitants of Mars, to analyzing the language of fossils from eras other than the Anthropocene. How can experimental practices show us different ways to live in a multispecies environment?

Participating artists and projects
(For program schedule scroll down)

Adelaide Lala Tam & Kuang-Yi Ku - The New Ultimate Imperial Feast
Adelaide Lala Tam and Kuang-Yi Ku update the Qing Dynasty Imperial Feast for the twenty-first century, with the aid of a pig's milk cheese platter, moon ginseng soup, super hybrid shark fin soup, and Neanderthal brain.

Missouri Williams - The Problem with King Lear with Sheep
Performed by Alasdair Saksena
Missouri Williams presents a critical reworking of her 2015 play King Lear with Sheep, with the help of 2 bona fide sheep.

Jenna Sutela - nimiia cétiï
Jenna Sutela's audiovisual work uses machine learning to generate a new interpretation of an 1800s Martian language.

Marjanne van Helvert, Objectophilia: Container Vessel Christopher
Marjanne van Helvert recounts her love for Container Ship Christopher, an unattainable kinship with an entity sailing the Baltic sea.

Thijs de Zeeuw - Design for the Non-Human
Thijs de Zeeuw will present his practice as a landscape architect for zoos, in which he has attempted to understand the prairie dog, the snowy owl, the gavial, and the elephant.

James Massiah - DJ set
James Massiah will close the day of events with a DJ set, playing music as well as spoken word produced by him.


15:00 Walk in
15:30 Lua Vollaard - Introduction
15:45 Missourí Williams - The Problem with King Lear with Sheep (with Sheep) - Performance

16:15 Break

16:30 Marjanne van Helvert - Container Vessel Christopher - Recital
16:50 Thijs de Zeeuw - Lecture
17:10 Panel  discussion

17:40 Break

18:00 Jenna Sutela - nimiia cétiï - Screening
18:15 Adelaide Lala Tam & Kuang-Yi Ku - The New Ultimate Imperial Feast - Presentation

18:45 Light supper - Break

19:30 James Massiah- DJ set

20:30 Drinks and chats

This edition of Uncertainty Seminars continues the research Stroom undertakes under the umbrella term of De Dingen, launched in 2018, on the changing hierarchies between animals, plants, machines, humans, others, and things.
Curated by: Lua Vollaard.
Graphic and spatial design: The Rodina


Adelaide Lala Tam is a food designer who dismantles industrial food production systems to gain a critical understanding of our modern relationship with food. Recently, her vending machine and video work 0.9 Grams of Brass won the Future Food Design Award 2018 in both the jury and audience categories, and the Ultimate Milk Cow project featured among the Water School collection from Studio Makkink and Bey at Salone del Mobile Milan 2019.
Formerly a dentist, Kuang-Yi Ku is a bio-artist and social designer. He founded TW BioArt (a Taiwan bio-art community) to stimulate the fields of BioArt and Science + Art in Taiwan. His works often deal with the human body, sexuality, interspecies interactions, and medical technology, and aim to investigate the relationships among technology, individuals, and the environment.

Jenna Sutela works with words, sounds, and other living media, such as Bacillus subtilis natto bacteria and the "many-headed" slime mold Physarum polycephalum. Her audiovisual pieces, sculptures, and performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Sutela's work has been presented at museums and art contexts internationally, including Guggenheim Bilbao, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, and Serpentine Galleries. She is a Visiting Artist at The MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) in 2019-20.

Missouri Williams is a writer based in London. She is co-editor of the film journal Another Gaze, and her work has appeared in The Baffler, The Believer and The Independent. In 2015, she wrote and directed the bizarro play King Lear with Sheep. Her first novel, The Doloriad, will be published by Dead Ink Books in 2021.

Alasdair Saksena trained in Paris with Philippe Gaulier. He is known in the UK as the only human in King Lear with Sheep and has most recently been touring Europe with his comedy trio Lobster Quadrille. In 2020 he will star in Penge: the Musical.

Thijs de Zeeuw is a landscape architect with a passion for systems. Among his work are contemporary installations, Zoos and large-scale infrastructures. The past years he has worked on numerous designs for Zoos, both on the scale of master planning and enclosure design. More recently, inspired by his work on Zoos, he instigated a multidisciplinary platform: the Nature-Optimist.

Marjanne van Helvert is a designer, writer, and educator. She explores the dynamics between theory and practice of design, within the realms of design ethics and aesthetics, DIY practices, gender politics, utopia and dystopia. Projects include the manifesto Dirty Design (2013), the Dirty Clothes collection (ongoing), and the book The Responsible Object: A History of Design Ideology for the Future (2016, Valiz Publishers).

James Massiah is a poet and DJ from South London whose work explores ideas about sexuality, mortality and ethics through performance, writing and visual media. His latest project Euthanasia Party/Twenty Seven is a series of poems about fate, sex, life and death from the perspective of a young determinist.
Wtach on YouTube: James Massiah - Natural Born Killers (Ride for Me)

Uncertainty Seminars are hybrid events at Stroom Den Haag, embracing doubt and hesitation as cultural strategy.

Special thanks to:
The Uncertainty Seminars are made possible by the generous support of the Mondriaan Fund, BankGiro Loterij Fonds and The City of The Hague.

Metropolis M, 10 March 2020

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the New Ultimate Imperial Feast from Adelaide Lala Tam on Vimeo.

Uncertainty Seminars: Multispecies (Mis)communication
photo: design: The Rodina
Adelaide Lala Tam & Kuang-Yi Ku, 'The New Ultimate Imperial Feast'
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Adelaide Lala Tam & Kuang-Yi Ku, 'The New Ultimate Imperial Feast'
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Adelaide Lala Tam & Kuang-Yi Ku, 'The New Ultimate Imperial Feast'
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Missouri Williams, 'King Lear with Sheep' (performed by Alasdair Saksena)
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Missouri Williams, 'King Lear with Sheep' (performed by Alasdair Saksena)
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Jenna Sutela, 'nimiia cétiï'
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Jenna Sutela, 'nimiia cétiï', 2018
photo: courtesy the artist
Marjanne van Helvert, 'Objectophilia: Container Vessel Christopher'
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Marjanne van Helvert, 'Objectophilia: Container Vessel Christopher'
Thijs de Zeeuw, 'Design for the Non-Human'
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Q&A with Thijs de Zeeuw, Marjanne van Helvert, Lua Vollaard
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
James Massiah
photo: courtesy the artist
James Massiah, DJ set
photo: Naomi Moonlion, courtesy Stroom Den Haag