In the summer of 2020, as part of the Venice Exploratorium, teams from four different cities in Europe critically explored and refined a method for engaging with a site as a zoöp. The method has been applied in several experimental settings since, each leading to further refinement. It has developed into the general framework for the practice of zoönomy, and the Zoönomic Annual Cycle.
The process consists of four steps that received their definitive labels during the course of the developments documented here. First comes Demarcating - the process of articulating the spatial boundaries of the site of the zoöp in legal, architectonic and ecological terms. The next step is Observing & Sensing the entities that live in it and becoming aware of their relationships. The third stage is that of Characterising the qualities of these relationships and thus the condition of the collective body, which leads to knowing where, when, and how to complete the fourth and final step: Intervening in the zoöp, in order to improve its quality of life.
Each team chose different sites to be observed as proto-zoöps and engaged with these sites through this method. A selection of their findings is documented in the pages below.
A high resolution PDF of the Zoönomic Method pages can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. The graphic design of the pages is by Brice Ammar Khodja. Klaas Kuitenbrouwer and Sophie Krier co-edited the texts, supported by the research teams listed below.
The full PDF of the Venice Exploratorium Cahier 2 can be downloaded from here.
We Are Here Venice: Jane da Mosto [JdM], director We Are Here Venice, environmental scientist. Supported by the Downforce Trust and the Exploratorium for 21st-Century Values for Survival in the context of the Dutch contribution to the 17th Architecture Biennale in Venice.
The Reflective Interaction Group of EnsadLab, the research laboratory of École des Arts Décoratifs, Université PSL (Paris Sciences et Lettres), Brice Ammar-Khodja (artist, graphic designer and PhD student-researcher), Samuel Bianchini [SB] (PhD, artist and associate professor), Francesca Cozzolino [FC] (PhD, anthropologist and researcher), Sophie Krier [SK] (relational artist and researcher), Hugo Scurto [HS] (PhD, machine learning researcher and sound designer), Francesco Sebregondi [FS] (PhD, architect and researcher). Supported by the Chaire arts & sciences of École Polytechnique, École des Arts Décoratifs - PSL and the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation.
Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin: Patricia Ribault [PR] Professor for Performative Design Research) with MA product design students Paulina Grebenstein [PG], Robin Hoske [RH], Yanshan Ou [YO] and Youran Song [YS]. Supported by the Cluster of Excellence Matters of Activity. Image, Space, Material, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
Het Nieuwe Instituut: Klaas Kuitenbrouwer [KK] senior researcher, R&D.
Detailed account of steps
The first step, called Demarcating, establishes the functional boundaries of the zoöp. This process articulates the zoöp as a collective body, consisting of various living and non-living entities and structures. This is not always as straightfoward as the squares in the visuals may suggest.
2. Observing & sensing
The second step is that of Observing & Sensing the entities and structures that together constitute the zoöp, and establishing the various ecological, trophic, social, economic, legal, symbolic and aesthetic relations between them.
Characterising is the process of reading and interpreting the zoönomy of a zoöp. It involves interpreting the relative importance and interplay between ecological, political, economic and other relations for the wellbeing of the collective body of the zoöp. It can be compared to diagnosis in some medicine practises: it may identify illness and possible cures, but is also very much engaged with enhancing quality of life ("health") when no obvious sickness is identified.
The aim of Intervening in a zoöp is to enhance the quality of its zoönomy, in line with its zoönomic ambitions.