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Het Nieuwe Instituut

Today we took the train south to Rotterdam, to the Het Nieuwe Instituut, a combination museum, archives, and laboratory.

Seedlings lit in pink light
An exhibit examines "smart farming" in the future of food crops

We started with a look at the Smart Farming exhibit that experimented with alternative substrates and technologically-controlled environments. It demanded considerations of what would happen if we removed the natural concepts from agriculture, including humans and animals.

Next we looked at Gardening Mars, examining human life on Mars. This wasn't only about sending a probe to the planet, but considering human (or, as the literature suggests, "trans-human") adjustment and health, sustainable life support (including crops and livestock), economic incentive to explore and use the planet's resources, and the protection of existing Martian environmental systems.

Screenshot of
More information on Gardening Mars at
When you begin to inhabit a world that has no existing eco-system, [...] The challenge is not to preserve the existing environment, but rather to engineer a whole new man-made eco-sytem making us the step up from custodians to creators of our own little Martian circle of life.

Further along in our tour we entered Mark Wigley's The Human Insect: Antenna Architectures 1887-2017, considering the architecture of connectivity as an evolution of insect life into the human world. I respect the idea and the academic considerations of it, but I was more interested in the playfulness of the evolution of mobile devices and the iconography of The Jetsons.

There are many other aspects of our visit that I'm skimming past: the Steve Bannon: A Propaganda Retrospective was eerie but the archives is solid and is aided by passionate and knowledgeable information professionals. I'm impressed not only by the work they do at HNI, but by the culture of innovation they promote and support.

Het Nieuwe Institute reading room
The reading room of Het Nieuwe Instituut


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