Online 7 July –31 October 2022 Free

The Synthetic Ecologies Lab presents Compendium, a growing collective archive of resources, reflections, sketches, conversations, and content that support artistic and critical inquiry into ecology and life sciences. The inaugural season is on fermentation and deep dives into broad histories of knowledge and the invisible scales of life that govern not only our kitchens, but also our contemporary science, culture and technology.

The Synthetic Ecologies Compendium brings artistic and scientific communities into experimental exchanges through iterative narrative building, and contributes to the emergence of Synthetic Ecologies: an intersectional field investigating the interconnectedness of cultural inquiry and living systems in relation to adapting biological developments. Alongside an appointed Guest Curator, the Compendium’s transdisciplinary team of leading scientists, cultural producers, writers, chefs, artists, and researchers, collectively known as a Guild, work around a seasonal topic that propels this field’s construction.

Compendium: Season 1 offers four sub-themes that frame the Guild’s investigations: Cellular Trompe-l’œil, Non-linear Temporalities, Sensory Intimacy, and Stewards of Knowledge. These areas of investigation allow fermentation to be explored not only in the context of food, but also in relation to material innovation, interaction with microbial life, computation, biotechnological advancements in manufacturing, and in centering diasporic, indigenous and diverse forms of knowledge and cultural ritual.

The Synthetic Ecologies Compendium starts out as an online web tool supported by the platform, providing the infrastructure for research and on-going conversations. Echoing the topic’s intersectional positioning and the Guild’s diversity of expertise, the Compendium coalesces a variety of formats stemming from different knowledge cultures: journals, papers, diagrams, artwork, articles, aural songs, memes and paintings.

As the Compendium continues to grow, it will act as a ‘notebook of conversations’ and gradually aggregate into an expanding archive towards the end of the season in October 2022. From July to October, the Synthetic Ecologies Lab will present the work through a suite of editorial pieces and events with project partners, Guild members and special guests.

You may explore the Synthetic Ecologies Compendium, integrate it into your own research and connect to the wider communities in the emerging Synthetic Ecologies space.

Compendium Season 1 will be launched on 7 July 2022. Sign up to the R&D newsletter to receive a notification.

The Synthetic Ecologies team, project partner, the Compendium‘s Art, Design and Development team, and the Guild, will continue to prototype, iterate and build on the Compendium throughout the summer.

Compendium is created and developed as part of Synthetic Ecologies Lab

Charles Broskoski, Platform
Mindy Seu, Design
Somnath Bhatt, Art
Brian Huddleston, Typeface
James Wreford, Development

Special thanks to
The Francis Crick Institute
Kay Watson
Victoria Ivanova
Julia Kaganskiy
David Benque
Aviaja Lyberth Hauptmann
The Synthetic Ecologies Advisory Board:
Christina Agapakis
Tega Brain
Elizabeth Henaff
Holly Jean Buck
Erin Kim
Aslak Aamot Kjærulff
David Zilber

About Synthetic Ecologies Lab

As part of Serpentine’s R&D Platform and led by Yasaman Sheri, the Synthetic Ecology Lab aims to support artists in working with emerging biological technologies and ecology by strengthening the foundations for art’s critical inquiry and intervention into these spaces. This is done by integrating insights derived from existing art-science collaborations as well as exploring the tools and models for collaboration in new artistic engagements with the sciences and ecology.

About Arts Technologies

The programme supports artists in nurturing ambitious ideas and developing artworks that work with advanced technologies as a medium, tool or topic, often evolving iteratively and operating beyond gallery walls.

The foundation of the Arts Technologies programme is located in an evolving R&D Platform that supports the development of infrastructures for ongoing artistic exploration and interrogation of wider technological conditions within society.


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