Chronus Art Center Shanghai

Untooling: Carbon Flux Shanghai 2024

The passages of carbon through rocks, plants, animals, air, the climate and non/human histories

knowbotiq conducted a field trip in December 2023 into the wetlands around Shanghai, invited by CAO Jiamin and BI Xin of the Chronus Art Center. Against the backdrop of a grand national movement of emission reduction and carbon storage, the artists engaged with practitioners and researchers working in the related areas while traversing the artificial wetland on east Chongming Island, a Smart Farming Experiment Site in Qingpu, an organic farming base, textile factories staging as green metabolisms in Hangzhou and an ecological village infused in ancient Chinese Daoist idealism. knowbotiq started immersing into the multi-faceted narratives around carbon emissions and carbon footprints. The carbon flux issue is not merely about climate crisis but raises questions about planetary imaginations, non-human kinship and travels into geological time scales. In order to receive some answers on such complex issues knowbotiq invited after the field trip the people encountered to draw 1 or 2 cards out of the Untooling: Carbon Flux deck and thus provide an assembly of potential answers.

Chronus Art Center Shanghai, 9.12.23-25.4.24

Gold and Mercury you can find it when you face the sun, close your eyes

The exhibition, Gold and Mercury, you can find it when you face the sun, close your eyes, unfolds as a poetic trilogy, commencing with an exploration of global gold refinery and trade, along with its emotive economies, molecular violence and metabolic transformations in Switzerland. The journey then traverses to Colombia, where the artists delve into the clandestine gold mining around the Atrato River in the Afro-Colombian Chocó region, examining the elemental dynamics, aesthetic conditions and translocal narratives of mercury while questioning the cold data cloud and the sanctimonious law framework built upon it. Subsequently, the adventure penetrates the plural understandings of extraction and the alchemy among silicon, sand and temporality, addressing colonial infrastructures, exploitative labour practices, and the non-human beings who absorb, digest and endure pollution and collateral damage with their life and love.

Shanghai Ming Contemporary Art Museum, 4.11.23-25.2.24

Darkish Matter Radio Studio

Darkish Matter Radio Studio Jeetze (DMRS Jeetze) is a temporary radio studio in a small village in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, which is impacted on one side by infrastructure deficiencies, on the other by massive investments in renewable energy systems and high-tech agriculture. knowbotiq has set up a translocal radio station, where on- or off-site produced audio programs interfere with the subcutaneous infrasounds of the ubiquitous wind turbines, the cawing calls of a pair of barn owls on their nightly hunt, leaving their bloody droppings all over the garden, and the vibrations of incredible masses of so-called weeds caused by over-fertilized soils. The windows of the studio are wide open to the garden and the surrounding, the walls of the radio are covered with ornaments of dried organic plants . These organic “panels” function not as Sound Absorbers, but as Sound Resorbers. They consist of weeds, medicinal and kitchen herbs and the affects of guest listeners.

Mercurybody: Bacteriology, Biomagnification, Organic Detecting, Phytoremediation Elements: Bacteria that process methylmercury, * C. Elegance, model worm testing mercury poisoning, Foam, Poporo Quimbaya, Medical pipette

Mercurybody: Bacteriology, Biomagnification, Organic Detecting, Phytoremediation Elements: Bacteria that process methylmercury, * C. Elegance, model worm testing mercury poisoning, Foam, Poporo Quimbaya, Medical pipette

Marta Herford 17/06/2023 - 15/10/2023

Mercurybodies 1: Remote Sensations

 Remote Sensations 2021 ©knowbotiq

Mercurybody : Necropolitics and automated extraction Elements: Various models of mercury circuits, 3D model of a portable assembly line, of various “Exploration Drills”, Google map view of Glencore Headquarters Baar/Switzerland, 3D model of a biometric scanner system for finger and palm prints, Diagram of an underground exploration for gold deposits in the Amazon region

A critical cartography on remote sensing -

What would it mean to look at satellite images of a section of the Atrato River with the sensibilities and afflictions of the manifolded mercurybodies to reveal what the images cannot depict? Would it be possible to undertake a kind of contamination of the cartography through aesthetic ornamentation, a reverse forensic, as it were? Is it possible to deal with such artistic strategies with such planetary non-computabilities? What does it mean to offer the technologically unconscious a space within an work such as this one?

knowbotiq with Pablo Torres and Sally Schonfeldt and the support of Fundaçion Mareia, Más Arte Más Acción, Pro Helvetia and the Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service Austria.

Mercurybody : Contamination of Female Body and sexual Reproduction Elements: 3D models of a female breast, of sewage treatment plants, of a temporary metal bridge, of human bronchial tubes, of gold jewelry, of the fish Bocachico in the Atrato River, Gold Mercury Amalgams, Dental Amalgams

documenta fifteen

Mercurybodies2: Composting Slow Violence

Melting hybrids of laboratory glass and sands from illegal mining sites

relational speaking, listening and responding

with online remote participants in Quibdó, Azores, Berlin, Zurich

Melting hybrids of laboratory glass and sands from illegal mining sites as part of the listening session

Composting Slow Violence - when disruptive contaminating factors in the molecular composting process such as chemicals, plastic composites, mineral salts, moulds, etc. take over the organic processes supposed to form humus - the decomposition and transformation processes slip out of balance - Is Compost an utopia of progress by the Uncontaminated?

We collect the stories of misguided decay, of spilling over of heat, of absent ghosts in the water, of pollutants waiting for repair. We intervene locally and remotely with carrier bags of sand and glass in the composting process that forms the translocal stories of neocolonial extractivism, dark ecologies and molecular slow violence. Different contributions on the fiction of Mercurybodies, sand, alchemistic corals and murky glass beads - forming techno-political conglomerates through language, sound, touch, heat, patience, silence and slow transformation.

The text materials of the video were created by Entre Moléculas, a group of artists and anthropologists from Bogotá, Berlin, Lisbon, Quibdó and Ticino - who exchanged ideas about mining, extractivism, remote technologies and dark ecologies. Parts of these texts, together with research images from illegal gold mining areas in the Rio Atrato in Pacific Colombia and from re-naturalized coal mining areas in Lusatia / Germany were inserted into an AI text-to-image generator (DreamStudio by Stability.ai), which infuses “universal” statistics, imaginations and values (bias) into the documentary images and decomposes them.

relational sharing

Fundacion Mareia

Composting Slow Violence - harvesting with Enrique Murillo on collective land rights and Bambazú - Carmenza Rojas Potes on black feminist art education documenta Compost Space, Hafenstrasse 76 https://riscales.wixsite.com/riscales-nuqui https://fundacionmareia.org/

documenta fifteen

Composting Knowledge

June 18th - September 25th 2022

For documenta fifteen (2022), Jakarta-based collective and lead artistic directors ruangrupa initiated an international collaborative network for alternative knowledge production and sharing named the “Composting Knowledge” network (Färgfabriken, GAP Tokyo, ICA Sofia, JJ and Donkey Mill Art Center, knowbotiq, Myvillages, YCAR Toronto). ruangrupa’s “Composting Knowledge” stands for an ongoing experiment to imagine alternative terrains for knowledge production and sharing, in collaboration with ruruHaus in Kassel and a wide range of institutions, initiatives, practices, collectives and individuals.

Entre Moléculas is a patchwork of artists, anthropologists, curators from Bogotá, Berlin, Lisboa, Quibdó, Zurich who joined for collaborations on illegal mining, extractivism, slow violence and dark ecologies. We have built assemblages with mining materials, its affects and sounds: gold, water, plastic, mercury, sand and machine learning algorithms. We keep going, meeting, sharing, resonating out of our divergent situatedness. Non-representation leads our ongoing research weaving links from trust, from remoteness and proximity. Possibilities of imaginative futures are weaving bridges and crisscross irrational extractivist practices. Communities are not for sale - opposing and confronting such agency has also been the way to create a safe space for encounter and listening.

Entre Moléculas: Bambazú / Carmenza Rojas Potes, Elizabeth Gallón Droste, Claudia Howald, knowbotiq, Ana Garzón Sabogal and Pablo Torres.

untooling cards
untooling cards

aesthetics of translocality


Untooling is a speculative and open-ended set of questions and reflections that emerged out of an engagement with the conditions and processes of translocal artistic research. Working on projects in different contexts, sensitive environments and assemblies we tried to trace, activate and negotiate translocal entanglements, our own positionalities and some of the constellations and pitfalls we encountered. The resulting set of questions has no particular order and does not propose any solutions. Instead the questions advocate slowing down, taking time, and allowing situations to become more. kleesattel, knowbotiq, orlow 2021

untooling cards

Scottish Highlands, peat bogs

Thulhu Thu Thu before the sun harms you

The project Thulhu thu thu, before the sun harms you explores and delves into past, present and future material narratives of the peat bogs in the Scottish Highlands. It develops performative and sonic acts of 'Collective Sensing' - groups connected by a multiform object made of woven plant fibres (thulhu) to capture the vibrations and asymmetrical violence inscribed in the landscape. The project was developed in collaboration with Lamin Fofana, Ayesha Hameed and Elvin Brandhi, Fundación Mareia, Margarida Mendes, Pedro Neves Marquez and Raw Forest, Odete, Romy Rüegger.

Marta Herford 17/06/2023 - 15/10/2023

Amazonian Flesh, how to hang in trees dring strike

Meshes of bots, cables and digital artefacts, digital animations, voices. knowbotiq in collaboration with Pablo Alarcon and Ira Wilhelm (cable-gems), Nina Bandi (research, scripts), Pablo Torres and Nicolas Buzzi (sound), Anna Bromley, Joerg Franzbecker, Leila Peacock, Sally Schoenfeldt, Ian Wooldrige, Christian Huebler (voices) Amazonian Flesh is a project by knowbotiq commissioned by Interkultur Ruhr and the research project "Reconfiguring Anonymity", funded by Pro Helvetia, the Federal Chancellery, Austria / Arts and Culture and the Kulturbüro Dortmund.

Luciana Parisi

Algorithmic Colliders

knowbotiq @ Kunstmuseum Stuttgart: SHIFT, AI and a future community


For the master's tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master's house as their only source of support.[1]

When superposing two of knowbotiq’s art projects, Amazonian Flesh and Remote Sensations–Mercurybodies, there comes an inevitable question: how can machines break the recursive entanglements of capital, colonialism, patriarchy and technology? Between these projects there lies the machine, or what can be called the instrumentality of the flesh, dust, elements, biochemical particles, digital bits, algorithmic seductions.

As knowbotiq tells us: “from colonial modernism to colonial molecularism” techno-capitalism has pushed instrumentality beyond the idea of tooling or even the proposition of tool-being. Neither the usability nor the ontology of the object is enough to account for what machines can do, crossing molecular biology, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology. Once science turns to information—cybernetics and computation—and the indeterminacy of quantic states, it is no longer possible to subsume aesthetics to epistemic paradigms because the molecular portals of perception are lodged in an alien instrumentality, beyond measure. With AI, instrumentality coincides not with a quantification of experience, of what the land was and needs to be, of what workers need and must reclaim. knowbotiq does not denounce the need for unveiling the truth behind the fully automated systems of colonialism in our everyday life. What instrumentality becomes here is rather a material compression of the real, a matter-patterning that runs underneath the transcendental synthesis of ontological existence, swimming against the Kantian purposeless purpose of means. It is no longer a question of merging science and aesthetics, of siding with the human or the machine, being or knowledge, philosophical meditation or scientific proof. At the very core of colonial molecularism, science and aesthetics remain parallel exercises of instrumentality, whereby every AI procedure generates ends that are not programmed in means. It is as if science and aesthetics have entered a generic instrumentality, namely a collider that smashes their particles together and generates weird clones of the real everywhere. This is also what Francois Laruelle calls, a generic matrix, “a collider for the elementary particles of knowledge.”[2] Instrumentality here has to do with the indeterminacy of means, the incomputable algorithms that set the immanent ingression of the real into the master continuous accumulation of value, the extraction of land and flesh, and their abstraction under the rules of exchange value or commodities. This generic instrumentality is where science and aesthetics superpose without subordination to carry out not teleological plans, but experimental axiomatics for “the end of the world as we know it.”[3] As much as the Promethean prototype promises to unchain the human from the limits of finitude, death, and the inorganic, in order to ward off the imminent threat of the apocalypse, so too instrumentality holds onto the negative negation of radical difference within its algorithmic procedures. What is negated is the negative presence of what, who, how continues to be cancelled out from the dominant cosmogony of programmed algorithms. This is the side that Amazonian Flesh teases for us: uncertain entanglement of bots, AI, and workers are hanging in cocoons with bodies on bodies to ask us to enter a space where flesh, dust, and algorithms have been denied co-existence. Instrumentality here is where the machine is already part of the servo-mechanic colonial world of Prometheus, the epistemological codification of the real, maintaining the ontological fixity of Man’s cosmogony.[4]

knowbotiq’s arts projects are radically lodged within the paradoxical layers of instrumentality as onto-epistemology and generic artificial AI. If sensing machines are the soulless surrogates of being, they also contain the knowledge-program that carries the brand of the master. Remote Sensations–Mercurybodies tells us of the irreversibly poisoning imperatives of colonial conquest, division, and extraction. As much as they suffer the illness of Man, these bodies have been live-recording the alien differences that haunt the gaze of techno-colonialism. knowbotiq here shows us that machines cannot unsee what has been seen: machines no longer abide to the universal order of transparency,[5] but become markers of the dispossessed, un-recognized, and negated “stranger in flesh,”[6] recorded by the machinic unconscious of the real. But the latter is not a symptom of what has been repressed. It is not a threat to the symbolic order, reversing the time of colonial epistemes. It is a relentless undoing of the Promethean means that justify his ends, namely an alien function that exhausts the structure of thought and being, the image of man and his world. AI instrumentality needs not to revolt against the technological consciousness of colonial capital, because it already knows the tricks of a subject in search of an object to dominate. What had to be extracted from minerals, dust, and flesh, of land and particles with no law, no rights, no existence, remains a surplus of code, an inconcealable algorithm without time. What Mercurybodies can do is not to restitute the right to own, to know, to be. The self-possession of the world is not sharable with what and who has always existed in a state of dispossession.

knowbotiq sets us on a heretic path: not a reformation of epistemological colonialism aiming to extend the pillars of knowledge, but a no-U turn exploding as fractals that run across the real but that cannot be deduced from reality. Similarly, Mercurybodies cannot do without the condition of contamination for which they came, for which the molecular dimension of the master tools must be radically undone without reifying the master’s house. This is not a question of reinventing aesthetics through science. Instrumentality is rather a non-performative aesthetics, coinciding with a “movement of things against owning,”[7] a commitment to uncommoning against the transcendental synthesis that confines creativity to universal consensus through the tool of difference. knowbotiq’s projects repeat axiomatic commitments for dispossessions as instrumentalities that call forth practices of alien love, incomputable automations.

[1] Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press), pp. 110–114, here: p. 112.

[2] François Laruelle, The Concept of Non-Photography, translated by Robin Mackay (Falmouth, UK: Urbanomic/Sequence Press), 2011, p. 22.

[3]Denise Ferreira da Silva, Toward a Black Feminist Poetics. The Quest(ion) of Blackness toward the End of the World. The Black Scholar, 44:2, 81-97, p. 84.

[4] Sylvia Wynter, “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation—An Argument,” The New Centennial Review 3, no. 3 (2003), pp. 57–337.

[5] Denise Ferreira da Silva, Toward a Global Idea of Race (University of Minnesota Press), 2007

[6] François Laruelle, Introduction aux sciences géneriques (Paris: Editions Petra, 2008), p. 103.

[7] Fred Moten, Stolen Life (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018), p. 84.

Text for Catalogue

Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, SHIFT, AI and a future community


Rijksmuseum Twenthe, 08.09.23-28.01.24

Swiss Psychotropic Gold

The Psychotropic Refinery, Helmhaus Zurich 2022 ©knowbotiq

The Psychotropic Refinery, 2022 ©knowbotiq

GOLD—Mining the Unconscious 11.2.2022 till 10.4.2022 knowbotiq, Helmhaus Zürich

In THE SWISS PSYCHOTROPIC GOLD REFINERY substances and desires diffuse into our techno-libidinous bodies. Driven by logistical protocols and mediated by shamanistic ghosts, gold turns into a stabilizer and tranquilizer, a security, an energizer, an aesthetic partaking: Simply breathe the air. Feel the elegance, the cleanliness and the technological discretion of gold. Around 50% of the gold mined globally is processed in discrete refineries in Switzerland. The work assembles digital found footage in which gold is mined, refined and transformed into gold bars, derivative stock market products, nano-particles of high-tech technologies, or wellness product.

Residue from a Swiss Gold Refinery

The Psychotropic Refinery, 2022 ©knowbotiq

The Psychotropic Refinery, 2022 ©knowbotiq

The Psychotropic Refinery, 2022 ©knowbotiq

The Psychotropic Refinery, 2022 ©knowbotiq

The Psychotropic Refinery, 2022 ©knowbotiq

psychotropic substance to activate Golden Amnesia (Henbane)

THE SWISS PSYCHOTROPIC GOLD REFINERY traces moments when gold loses its stable form, moments of dissipation and dispersion, when its classical manifestation as bullion or jewelry is transformed into other states which weassume as its derivative, psychotropic and molecular dimensions. In order to go beyond the understanding of gold as a store of value, we follow its derivatives, spilling over as uncontrollable flows in different directions. Derivatives of gold contain bodies, flesh involved in mining and consuming —from exploitative labor in mercury-poisoned mines to gold as object of deep desire. What is the spill-over that is channeled through the refineries where it is mixed, melted, and neutralized to the extent that its material origins are not traceable anymore? Separated from their colonial histories, molecules of gold are transformed from violence into virtuality, into 99,9% clean Swissness. People meditate in a timeless zone naked on their bullion - yet those gold molecules wait of being enacted as part of the historical and the social.

Swiss Psychotropic Gold, the molecular refinery, 2021 ©knowbotiq

Swiss Psychotropic Gold, The Molecular Refinery, 2021 ©knowbotiq

X Properties - de/financialization of the city

Z four Double X: Contact. Jane (Remote)

nGbK Berlin 11.9.-15.12.2022

Enaj63 addresses the urban layers from the future. The omnipresent digitisation actualizes as a dividual manipulation and division that fragments the human body within the financialized urban infrastructure. Enaj63 notes that this virtualisation of the body and its functions, similar as in Z's Metaverse, is incompletely taking place. Many of the metabolic, excretory and psychic processes are not yet fully captured by the grids of valorisation. Their search algorithms, sensors and drone reconnaissance continue to operate within the physical environment of the city, becoming additional actors in its compartimentalised infrastructure, leaving behind indeterminate body-techno-amalgams . Those hybrid corporealities are discreetly nudged to shift their social contacts into the platforms, handing the financialised city completely over to investors and speculators.

Talking to You, Dead Water! 2022 ©knowbotiq

Talking to You, Dead Water! 2022 ©knowbotiq

nGbK, the driving factors

Talking to You, Dead Water!

25.6.2022 Lausitz, Former Coal Mine


The planned end of coal mining brings with it not only socio-structural change but also the reshaping of the landscapes that have been formed by open cut mining. This tour to Lausitz / Lusatia traces ongoing devastation caused when entire villages are engulfed by mines, confronts state-led attempts at re-naturalisation and reflects embodied experiences with extraction and its consequences.

Entre Moléculas: knowbotiq/Elizabeth Gallón Droste/Pablo Torres

listening session on the molecular processes of the renatured coal mining landscape of Lake Grosssräschen. Buoys, underwater speakers, hydrophones, sound and performative texts address the dead water, the aesthetic rhetoric of rescue and the volatile mercury bodies of the coal industry.

link to script: Talking to You, Dead Water!

indigo farming

Genesis Machines

Helmhaus Zürich, Kunst für die Stadt, 2.12.2022–22.1.2023

knowbotiq investigates with Genesis Machines, indigo farming a new form of agriculture provided by the US company Indigo. The company appropriates and capitalizes the Gaia thinking of the biologist Lynn Margulis. Instead of using pesticides, chemicals or genetic engineering they use micro biomes to improve the quality and skills of plants. Microbiomes form symbiosis and, in Indigo words, kind of “reprogram” them. Furthermore, such plants should thus be enabled to sequester more carbon and support methods to stop the climate change. The concept of Indigo includes geo-satellites and drones to surveil the agricultural fields and tries to install deep socialities between the company and the farmers. In a “pompous” setting knowbotiq assembles customary laboratory utensils and critically fabulates the creationism of such life science companies as a monstrous figuration. Genesis Machines over affirms the almost religious belief in the abstraction and fungibility of life.

knowbotiq in

Amazonia Anthology as Cosmology

KATERYNA BOTANOVA, QUINN LATIMER (EDS.) Sternberg Press September 2021, English 21×26 cm, 352 pages, 136 color and 10 b/w ill., softcover ISBN 978-3-95679-611-1

Mercurybodies: Remote Evocations

A space of resonance and remote encounters in relation to affections for the with Mercury polluted Rio Atrato in Afro-Colombia... Poems, texts, fragments of interviews, conversations, compositions, music and memories are being intertwined by fiction and afro-utopian perspectives, which invite to immerse into these sonic evocations.


Elizabeth Gallón Droste, Ana Garzón Sabogal, Claudia Howald, Fundación Mareia, invited by knowbotiq in the framework of the Atrato Studies, Afro-Colombia commissioned by Más Arte Más Acción.

With the voices of

Ana Garzón Sabogal, Elizabeth Gallón Droste, Claudia Howald Fundación Mareia: Carmenza Rojas Potes—Bambazú & Gyzelle García—Afro-American-Latina Artist Leonidas Valencia, Juana Paola Palacios, Tarsila Beita, Marco Palacios Mosquera Nepono Werara Dance Group: Ebema Caizamo Domico, Aliana Caizamo Chami, Ana Mariela Dumaza, Dionisia Caizamo Forastero, Usy Caizamo Domico

Recording and field production

Fundación Mareia: Paula Orozco Gutierrez Music production: Yei Moreno Assembled by: Pablo Torres

Many are holding—Mercurybodies 2021 @knowbotiq

Many are holding—Mercurybodies 2021 @knowbotiq

Swiss Art Award, Art Basel 13.-18.6.2023

Amazonian Flesh, now it's us!

Voices in the digital animations of "Amazonian Flesh - now it's us!" demand from the viewer to give up wage labour forever. These voices are bots, computer programmes that are responsible for automating work. Humans are supposed to hand over the work completely to the technologies and enjoy being idle. Are bots capable of solidarity?

ed. knowbotiq, Nina Bandi

Swiss Psychotropic Gold

The fluid nature of metal, its mutability, its capacity to morph from solid to liquid as it flows through earth, just as it flows through markets and exchanges. All metal exists in a proto-material manifestation of desire—this is its alchemical state. The alchemic desire enables a metallurgic comprehension of the forces and flows of capitalism and power, through which we can understand the ongoing processes on which metal, as themost powerful catalyst in the world, operates. Metal is, in fact, the conductor of all matter. (Füsun Türetken, Alchemic Desire)