What can designing modular structures to live in space mean for survival in increasingly extreme conditions here on Earth? Can we learn about alien, unknown life by studying not the universe but our own brains? And how do we tell decolonialized, cyberfeminist re-c(O)untings, to reclaim women's bodies and indigenous lands?
Each of the three teams that won a Bio Art & Design (BAD) Award 2023 this year plunged into one of these complex questions with great imagination. The scenarios they sketch rewrite ingrained perspectives on past and present by opening portals to inspiring futures. They do this using both artificial intelligences and alternative knowledge systems.
Piece by piece, the installations included in this exhibition explore the hybrid here and now, not only by questioning boundaries, but by pushing them. In the process, art and technology, life sciences and creative power nurture and challenge each other to explore surprising vistas of lives and landscapes.

Participating artists
Anna Vershinina & Wieger Wamelink, Hung Lu Chan & Floris de Lange, Floortje Bouwkamp, Matthias Ekman, ella hebendanz, pamela varela & Joris Koene, Rachel Armstrong & Rolf Hughes, Nadine Botha & Henry de Vries, with Pete Fung and Coltrane McDowell, Thijs Biersteker, Stine Deja, Jennifer Carniel, Nicolas Nova &, Špela Petri?, Reon Cordova and Janita Chen, Karel van Laere.

Bestiary of the Anthropocene (2021) photo by Boudewijn Bollmann

Caught in listening to rocks (2023) photo by Boudewijn Bollmann

Big thanks to the consortium behind the BAD Awards
Bio Art Laboratories
Dutch Design Foundation
Next Nature Network
St. Joost School of Art & Design / Master Institute of Visual Cultures

The winning BAD Award projects 2023
Close Encounters with Inner Aliens (2023)
Hung Lu Chan & Floris de Lange, Floortje Bouwkamp, Matthias Ekman

Triggered by curiosity, humans tend to imagine aliens in an approach to perceiving the unknown. However, these absurdities are entirely shaped by our preconceptions. Delving into various interpretations of aliens Close Encounters with Inner Aliens highlights how we visualize otherness by looking inside ourselves. With the means of fMRI and ChatGPT, our imagination of aliens will be explored personally and collectively by applying guided meditation to individuals and an AI. Ultimately, a liminal space that visualizes aliens from both human and artificial inner worlds will be developed, inviting audiences to appreciate others' inner aliens and prompting them to introspect their cognitive biases and perceptions of the unknown.

Close Encounters with Inner Aliens (2023) photo by Boudewijn Bollmann

re-c(O)unting (2023)
ella hebendanz, pamela varela & Joris Koene

re-c(O)unting is an artistic-scientific research questioning how to transform the production of knowledge; it is an empowering journey from the transgenerational trauma lands and bodies store. Deconstructing the binarisms between nature-technology, science-spirituality, male-female, the artists zoom out and into the colonial history between Europe and Latin America and link it to the colonial approach medicine has had on female-assigned bodies. By self-exploring their bodies as an act of reappropriation, they create an essay film that visualizes their research and is also embodied by a fierce live performance. Both parts exist within an installation that alludes to an anatomical theater. The artists delve into their deepest insides to reveal the magick of science and retell the stories.

re-c(O)unting (2023) photo by Boudewijn Bollmann

ExoGarden (2023)
3D-Printed Modular Eco-Habitats for Earth and Space
Anna Vershinina & Wieger Wamelink

In the context of climate change and the development of Mars settlements, there is an increasing demand for resilient living solutions in harsh, resource-depleted environments. Addressing this need, ExoGarden leverages recent advancements in 3D printing and space farming to efficiently "grow" shelter and food with maximum space utilization and minimal environmental impact.
ExoGarden's innovative systems minimize water usage and repurpose organic waste through earthworm-assisted composting. The modules feature a textured surface that facilitates the growth of organisms absorbing carbon dioxide and pollutants, thereby promoting bioremediation and encouraging the cultivation of edible plants. These life-supporting, resilient strategies not only empower communities in challenging environments but also establish novel paradigms for sustainable habitation on Earth and beyond. In a graphic novel and a video translation of it, some characters living in such an ExoGarden come to life.

ExoGarden (2023) photo by Boudewijn Bollmann