Waag Futurelab art-science Polymorf Symbiosis
Waag & R3 Media Content BY-NC-SA

S+T+ARTS Prize: Art-science, for the future

'Every conversation with an artist flips a scientists' head,' says Waag's research fellow Justin Stewart.  

Watch the video:


During Museumnacht and Waag Open in November, Waag invited collective Polymorf (S+T+ARTS Prize nomination 2022) to our building. Polymorf's VR-experience Symbiosis is a fully physical experience, where the participant not only sees but also feels the virtual reality.

In Symbiosis, you enter the world hundreds of years from now. Humans have symbiotised with animals and other natural entities to survive. Based on Donna Haraway's 'Staying with the trouble', you move into these novel worlds, both underwater and on dry land, as a human-butterfly hybrid, insect or other character. The soft robotics in the suits the participants wear let them feel the movements their hybrid character makes. Meanwhile, they are fed snacks, making the taste of the future part of the experience as well.

It is important for Waag Futurelab to give collectives like Polymorf the space to show their work to a large audience at the Waag. For many years, Waag has worked from the European partnership S+T+ARTS (Science, Technology and the Arts) to strengthen collaboration between artists and scientists. Artists have the opportunity to visualise complex interactions and perform radical experiments. In collaboration with scientists, new insights and concern-driven design can therefore emerge. We notice this in projects like Better Factory and Vojext, in which artists collaborate on technology and robotics design, but also when we focus on ecology, for example.

In the past year, Waag Futurelab has also been advocating the importance of art-science for a better future within the Netherlands. In this video, Waag director Marleen Stikker talks, among other things, about the plea we wrote with the Academy of Arts and other partners: Use creativity for the future of the Netherlands. In 2023, we also spoke about this with the State Secretary for Culture and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Waag Futurelab will continue this work in 2024.


Video credits

A film by Waag Futurelab and R3 Media Content.
Featuring: ‘Symbiosis’ by Polymorf.
With: Zeynep Birsel (Concept Developer), Marleen Stikker (Founder-Director), Justin Stewart (Research Fellow).
Cinematography/director/edit: Leandra Hoffmann, R3 Media Content.

Sound design: Mattis Rinsche.
Concept, interviews, research, production: Miha Turšič, Natalia Vargas, Anne Schepers.

Thanks to: Polymorf, Lucas Evers, Marleen Stikker, Zeynep Birsel, Justin Stewart, Tanja van Zoest, Museumnacht Amsterdam, S+T+ARTS.


Waag Futurelab and S+T+ARTS

Science, Technology & ARTS, STARTS for short, when combined, offer special opportunities in terms of innovation. And innovation is exactly what is needed when we consider the social, ecological and economic challenges Europe will face in the near future. Art is a catalyst in this process.

The S+T+ARTS initiative, supported by the European Commission, focuses on projects and people who can make a meaningful contribution to this. Waag Futurelabis involved through various initiatives among which VOJEXT, Better Factory and STARTS Prize.





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S+T+ARTS Prize has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 956603.