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Material Ecologies

Research Group: Biobased Art and Design

The starting point of this research are sacrifice zones (those areas and its indigenous people) designated for exploitation regardless of environmental destruction. 

As dystopian reality, the sacrifice zones paint a dire picture of a post-anthropogenic future. Yet past the environmental collapse, past human survival, a new ecology is nonetheless created. This research focuses on how the materiality of these new ecologies can be used as a marker for both the history and speculative future of the environment. Through field research, journalistic and artistic documentation methods, specific case studies serve as conversation pieces for large-scale ecological change. 

Connected to this research project, a new course was developed within the Master Institute of Visual Cultures curriculum called Growing Cultures, in collaboration with Caradt researchers Wasabii Ng and John van der Werf. This allowed students to work in the Material Incubator [MI] lab. 

Xandra was offered a PhD position at Ulster University in May 2020. Accepting the PhD position meant that any research coming from her artistic practice will become part of the PhD trajectory. Ulster University gladly accepts that Xandra will continue her positions aPathway Leader of Ecology Futures at MIVC and researcher at Caradt. As a logical result of this, the research plan for 20202021 is directed towards closely connecting the Biobased Art and Design research group to MIVC/Ecology Futures.  

Setting up and developing the Material Incubator Project Space

The need for a project space for students arose from the material-making module Eco Materials Culture. The classes took place in the studio spaces of MIVC, without any equipment present, nor a storage facility and not taking into account the safety regulations. With the limited accessibility of [MI] lab, and not all activities needing to take place in the lab, the idea for an [MI] Project Space took shape. The goal of the Project Space is to provide space for teaching, non-lab essential activities, storage and to support independent student research. The idea was to develop the current [MI] office as the project space as it is both close to the lab as well as to the ceramics workshop. 

The research for Growing Culture 1 & 2 will generate new knowledge and contributes to curriculum innovation. Knowledge will be transferred from the research group to the students and tutors of Ecology Futures. 

The [MI] Project Space will primarily facilitate curriculum innovation, but also promote peer-to-peer knowledge transfer. In addition, its role is to facilitate both researchers from the research group and students in conducting their research. It offers an expanded range of methodologies that are directed towards achieving innovative artistic results.   

Ongoing research, started September 2018. 

Principle investigator
Xandra van der Eijk

Elvin Karana

Úna Henry (Head of the Master Institute of Visual Cultures, St. Joost Academy of Fine Art & Design)
Students of the masters programme Ecology Futures (Master Institute of Visual Cultures, St. Joost School of Fine Art & Design)  

Avans University of Applied Sciences
Ulster University

‘In my work the concept of time is a recurring theme.’

Xandra van der Eijk is researcher within the Biobased Art and Design research group. She is also the Pathway Leader of Ecology Futures at the Master Institute of Visual Cultures. Xandra has recently accepted a PhD position at Ulster University in Northern Ireland.

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Research Group: Biobased Art and Design

The research group Biobased Art and Design capitalises on the role of artistic practice in unlocking the unique potentials of living organisms for everyday materials and communicating these to a broader public. In doing so, the group aims to instigate and accelerate our widespread understanding, further development and usage of such materials. The group’s research approach encourages tangible interactions with the living organisms, such as algae, fungi, plants and bacteria, to explore and understand their unique qualities and constraints through diverse technical and creative methods taking artists, designers and scientists as equal and active partners in the material creation.

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