making kin

Speculative / Sculpture
Personal Project — 2020

The project Making Kin, begins in a research into what we as humans call extreme life on Earth: Extremophiles. This gives us a glimpse of what life could be like on another planet, since some of the extremophiles are considered to have the ability to survive Martian conditions. For example thrive in radiation or high temperatures. While oxygen, for example, is a necessity for life as we humans know it, some organism flourish in places with no oxygen at all.[1]

Making Kin aims to introduce nuances to what life is and shift our human-centred perspective.
Showing that they are part of the same life as humans and by speculating on what new life could look like for us to examine the conditions of life in a broader sense. It highlights microbes on a more comprehensible scale to create relations to the unseen.

We are currently in a tradition of polarizing and categorizing the differences between life in all spectrums. Natural vs. unnatural, extreme vs. normal, human vs. nature. This project is about decentralizing the human life form from what is considered as ‘normal life’.
The fact that organisms that thrive in (what for us humans are) hostile environments are called ‘extremophiles’ is a good example of how we humans put ourselves in an elevated position in nature. When in reality all lifeforms are built with the same ‘building blocks’ and what is considered ‘extreme’ is depending on the point of view.

In order for us humans, that are emotive beings, to fully understand other species we need to create a relation towards the other lifeform. The project processes questions like how does a microscopic organism experience the world and how can we relate to them? Showing that they are part of the same life as humans and by speculating on how new life could behave is a way for us to examine the conditions of life in a broader sense. Evoking new relations by highlighting microscopic life and taking the ‘extreme’ out of extreme life.

Figure with extremes puts the human in the centre: 

Figure without extremes:      

Making Kin results in three enlarged species based on extremophiles on Earth and three Martian species from a speculative future. 
The project started out by collecting genome sequence data from different organisms that are likely to survive on Mars and then they were translated into new speculative lifeforms by using algorithms and 3D-software. The project uses the digital tools as a method to limit the human interference in the design processes of shaping the unknown future species.

Based on DNA/RNA genome sequence data from the three extremophiles’ RNA strains. We have translated the data to numeric values which will give different parameters in the 3D software. The unique combinations from each species will give different outcomes in the digital environment.

Process overview: Translating sequenced genome data into shapes in 3D software:

  1. Collect simplified DNA/RNA genome sequenced data from three extremophiles.
  2. Count and obtain numeric values from the genome data. The number of combination pairs in each species collected genome sequence data.
  3. The unique combination of numbers from each species gives different values in the 3D software. Inserting the values into different parameters in the 3D software will shape the new lifeform.
Photos from the group exhibition ‘Sustainable Societies for the Future’ at Malmö Konstmuseum.
“Do bacteria really perceive their environment? Do bees really remember what has happened? These are not questions that have a yes-or-no answer.
There’s a smooth transition from minimal kinds of sensitivity to the world to more elaborate kinds, and no reason to think in terms of sharp divides.”[2]
If we find life on Mars in the future, it would most likely be a microscopic organism, a microbe. If we from the start, in this scenario, don’t place ourselves above any species in a hierarchical position could we then approach non-human life differently and co-exist in a new way?  As one of the pioneer posthumanist Kathryn N. Hayles asks: “What happens if we begin from the premise not that we know reality because we are separate from it (traditional objectivity), but that we can know the world because we are connected with it?”[3]
“I think that the stretch and recomposition of kin are allowed by the fact that all earthlings are kin in the deepest sense, and it is past time to practice better care of kinds-as-assemblages (not species one at the time). Kin is an assembling sort of word. All critters share a common “flesh,” laterally, semiotically, and genealogically.”[4]

[1] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, What is an extremophile? National Ocean Service website,, 02/26/21
[2] Peter Godfrey-Smith, Other Minds: the Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life (London: William Collins, 2018),10
[3] Quoted in Cecilia Åsberg and Rosi Braidotti, eds, A Feminist Companion To The Posthumanities (S.l.: Springer, 2019)
[4] Donna Jeanne Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016)

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