Waag Open: Secret life of plants

Waag Open: Secret lives of plants

Plants: we eat them, you might have them in your living room and they enliven our streets. What do we actually know about the lives of plants? Of playful plants in the wild on the one hand, and on the other hand technically influenced, fast growing greenhouse plants to feed humanity’s ever-growing hunger. But also think of how plants adapt to an ecology that is ever further influenced by technology and how they develop their own, ‘rewilding’ after being domesticated.

Are you curious about the blurring distinctions between nature and culture? Come to Waag and experience with art-science artists how plants communicate, not only amongst each other, but also with you. We start off with talks and then go into hands-on experiments.

Artists and researchers Špela Petrič and Christiaan Zwanikken will present their works about the intelligence of plants and about plants in hyper gravity. Hyper gravity is able to stimulate plants at a cellular level and changes the physiology in interesting ways, with a sculptural outcome. It is a result of their collaboration in the Smart Hybrid Forms project.

19:30 – 19:40 hrs: opening Lucas Evers (Waag)
19:40 – 20:15 hrs: talk Christiaan Zwanikken (subject to changes)
20:15 – 20:40 hrs: talk Špela Petrič 
20:40 – 21:10 hrs: Q&A
21:10 – 22:00 hrs: Cucumber conversations and basil hyper gravity: hands-on public experiments
22:00 – 23:00 hrs: Drinks 

This event is in English.

The participation and talk of Christiaan Zwanikken is dependent on the making process of the artwork, which is completely dependent on the ‘cooperation’ of the plants. Zwanikken may be joining through a live stream from the exhibition location Het Glazen Huis, from the project partner Zone2Source. 

About the artists

Špela Petrič (1980) is a Ljubljana and Amsterdam based new media artist who holds a PhD in biology. She currently works as a post-doc researcher at the Hybrid Forms Lab at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her artistic practice combines the natural sciences, wet biomedia practices, performance, and critically examines the limits of anthropocentrism via multi-species endeavours. Petrič received several awards, such as the White Aphroid for outstanding artistic achievement (SK), the Bioart and Design Award (NL), and an Award of Distinction at Prix Ars Electronica (AT).

Dutch artist Christiaan Zwanikken (1967) has received international recognition through his kinetic and mechanical sculptures, sound works, performative and responsive installations. Using a variety of sculptural media, robotics, biology, micro-controllers, and sound— his work is both an artistic and technological experiment in which innovation and invention play an important role.

Waag Open

Waag Open is our monthly public programme focused on today's themes. We organise various workshops and present collaborations between scientists, designers and artists. Once a month, Waag opens her doors for programmes that can be attended by anyone and everyone.

Because the Waag building is a protected monumental building, it unfortunately doesn't have an elevator. The event will take place in the Theatrum Anatomicum on the third floor of the Waag building.


Smart Hybrid Forms: A plant becomes a machine becomes a plant” is a project of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Waag, V2_the lab for unstable media and Zone2Source and received the NWO ISA Smart Cultures grant with project no. CISC.KC.215.




5 euros (incl. drink)


Nieuwmarkt 4
1012CR Amsterdam

Due to her monumental state the Waag building does not have elevators. A gender neutral toilet is present on the first floor.



This project received the NWO ISA Smart Cultures grant with project no. CISC.KC.215.