A History of the World by the Algae
Do Humans Care for Algae?
4 September 2019 13:00 - 18:00
From their apparition in the primordial soup on Earth to their possible conquest of space, algae have an extremely long history that expands on geological time scales. A closer look at their behaviour on micro or macro scale shows that algae are critical key players in the processes of life and global cycles of matter. They are a link between elements, connecting water, air and earth.
In this first workshop, Dr. Sergio Mugnai is invited as speaker. Thereafter we will write and visualize another history of the world that forces us, humans, to think in different timeframes, space scales and evolution strategies by adopting an algae perspective.
Do humans care for algae?
While life is still a mystery in many ways, the search for its origin leads us back to the first single-celled blue-green algae that appeared in the oceans about 3,5 billion years ago. Algae developed photosynthesis. They use the energy of the sun to convert carbon dioxide into organic matter while releasing oxygen as a by-product. Thanks to the continuous activities of these first algae the atmosphere slowly enriched in oxygen and became favorable to the apparition of more complex forms of life. Multicellular organisms, plants, animals gradually conquered the oceans, the lands and the airs.
Algae are the real architects of life, currently responsible for more than 50% of the oxygen production on Earth and for a large part of carbon sequestration. They are at the basis of the food chain. Growing in all fresh and sea water as well as in the most peculiar and extreme places on Earth, they have developed fantastic symbiosis strategies to cohabit with other living species.
Humans - and all living things - are obviously deeply depending on algae. Yet, humans still know so little about those fascinating organisms. While algae are more and more promoted by humans as one miraculous solution to solve the climate crisis, they will most probably outlive humanity& What can we learn from them while we still can?
At a time when it becomes urgent to rethink how humans cohabit with other forms of life, this research projects intends to explore algae as an ambassador to reframe our understanding of the world.
Algae workshop series
This is the first workshop in a a series of 3 workshops, where we will explore the history and role of the algae on Earth, challenge our human perception of the world and investigate possible relationships with these organisms. In each session, a guest speaker will highlight a specific topic and inspire the participants to explore more-than-human worlds.
Workshop 2 - Algae Manifesto
05/09 - 15.00 - 19.00
Workshop 3 - Designing Algae Encounters
12/09 - 13.00 - 17.00
Johanna Weggelaar studied general engineering and worked three years in wind and solar energy in France before turning to cultural history. With this double background, she now works on projects at the crossroad of disciplines, aiming at creating a dialogue between different expertise fields, cultures and practices. Since 2013, she is based in the Netherlands where she contributed to curate and produce various international exhibitions that hold a critical eye on technology, society and the environment. In 2017, Johanna joined Atelier Luma as project leader for the Algae Platform. In addition to the Atelier, she is researching how to build new narratives and alternative methodologies in a context of climate crisis.
Dr Sergio Mugnai is Senior Lecturer at Erasmus University College where he has initiated courses in Plant Biology and Plant Physiology. Previously, Mugnai was senior researcher in Plant Physiology at the University of Florence until 2011 where he conducted several researches in the field of stress physiology and plant-environment interaction. He then moved to the Netherlands and joined the European Space Agency in Noordwijk to lead experiments related to Biology on the International Space Station (ISS).