FRArt Algoliterary Publishing

1. Open Call for Participation

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  • Date begin: June 21 2022
  • Date end: August 1 2022

Anaïs Berck invited five makers for a paid residency during two weekends in September and October 2022.

Anaïs Berck stands for a collaboration between humans, algorithms and trees. As a collective, they open a space where human intelligence is explored in company with plant intelligence and artificial intelligence. Anaïs Berck saw the light in October 2019 and develops work in combinations of different people, trees and algorithms.

Thanks to the support of FRArt Anaïs Berck explores this year the idea of ‘An Algoliterary Publishing House‘ in which the authors are algorithms, presented with their contexts and codes; and in which the content of the books seeds with trees and nature. This research in company of more-than-human presences brings Anaïs Berck to highly charged territories in the colonial legacies at the intersection of botany, computationalism and publishing. There, the implications of Western ideology, the centrifugal force of archivism and extractivism are brought into focus.

During the residency participants develop algoliterary publications. These are publishing experiments with algorithms and literary, scientific and activist datasets about trees and nature. We ask ourselves: who and what is excluded, made invisible or exploited in the existent representations, discourses, tools and practices? How can we restore their presences in histories and storytelling? How can we heal and transform ourselves, our tools, our practices, our relationships to the world, our legacies? How can we help to destabilize the centrifugal force in botany, computation and publishing? How can we make books, databases, algorithms visible as objects of doubts and how to go beyond their established forms?

____ Participation

Are you an artist, programmer, engineer, scientist or designer driven by the questions above, and do you have programming experience?
Are you looking forward to exchange ideas and lead hands-on experiments with peers?

Then send an email to xxx before 1 August 2022, attaching:

  • a short presentation of yourself
  • why you want to participate (this can also be a video or audio message)

We highly encourage applicants from underrepresented communities.
You can expect a reply by August 15, 2022.

____ What Anaïs Berck offers you

You will participate in two collective workmoments:

  • from Friday 16 till Sunday 18 September, Brussels
  • from Thursday 13 till Saturday 15 October, Brussels
  • Discussion and presentation of the experiments on Sunday 16 October

During the residency Anaïs Berck will create a temporary working environment where participants from different backgrounds come together to develop publishing experiments. We prefer to use Free, Libre and Open Source software and data available under open licenses. Documentation and experiments are shared under the open content license CC4R.

The first work moment is introduced with examples of publishing experiments, algorithms and datasets which can inspire us for hands-on research. In function of the collective needs, more content-related input will be provided during the second weekend.

Each participant receives a fee of 1500€ (VATi).
Lunch and a small budget for materials is provided for each participant.
We can also contribute to travel and accommodation expenses for people participating from outside Belgium.

This call is made possible thanks to the support of FRArt (Art & Recherche).

2. Library

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In preparation of the residency an online folder with around 50 related books and papers was created. In the workspace at Meyboom we set up a physical library with another selection of books.



3. Possible algorithms

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  • description:

    In preparation of the residency a thread on algorithms was created that could help to think about the way we wanted to explore the experiments during this third residency.

Algoliterary practitioners apply a methodology that leads to understanding the code of existing models:
- trying out scripts
- comment scripts 
- print out each line of code in the terminal
- playing with different input and output
- adapting scripts to your needs 
- refining the tool

Three principles prevail: 
    a) move techniques to another context, for which they were not designed; 
    b) do not try to optimise techniques, but create interfaces, visualisations, code comments, so that they manage to express themselves in some way; 
    c) choose the level of understanding, each model being composed like an onion. It is possible, for example, to run a model as it is, to focus on the art of approximation (statistics, algebraic formulas) or to simply make parts of models without using code, to explore and perform them physically or metaphorically (Dataworkers, 2019), because "an algorithm needs to be seen in order to be believed.” (Knuth 1997, page 4). 

It is a collective process. No person in the space knows all the answers to the questions that emerge. In this kind of process, insiders can become outsiders, and outsiders can become insiders. 

Some examples:
- Levenhstein Distance:

- Markov Chain:
- word2vec:
Commented script, with outputs of different steps as text files:

- random forest
Commented script:

- Perceptron
Commented script:

- Genetic algorithm

Physical exercise 'Binary Decision Tree': see Residency 'Fruit Rains'

4. Possible publications

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  • description:

    In preparation of the residency Gijs de Heij created a thread on existing publications by Algolit and Anaïs Berck that could help to think about the way we wanted to explore the experiments during this third residency.

You find the presentation here:

5. Possible databases

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  • ref: DOC.2023.34
  • description:

    In preparation of the residency a thread on databases was created that could help to think about the way we wanted to explore the experiments during this third residency.

'Look for purpose in the place where your deep gladness meets the world's needs' (Yogi tea)


In preparation of this residency we gathered some threads that could help to think about the data you want to use for the algoliterary experiments during this residency. Some ideas come from experience, some from questions and discussions. All threads lead to more questions and discussion.
Following the principles of the Parisian based collective Oulipo, we consider all types of texts as potential literature.

____ Some overall questions could be:
- how can we enhance the presence of and relationship with more-than-humans and cosmovision practises? Can we create alternative narratives? Might there be "datasets" that that incorporate more indigenous, situated and folk knowledge?
- how do we create a de-antropomorphised de-centered point of view? 
- how can we work to undo the histories of violence, histories of exclusion that have already existed? How do we formulate critique on collections of structured digital data that come along with a knot of conventions and traditions from military, colonial and corporate management and control systems? What kind of datasets are _not_ loaded with these kinds of problems? 

Possible threads

___ Focus on non-dominant discourses

- Attunement generator:
How trees can help healing bad temper and anxieties of humans, following the Celtic tradition of consulting trees for daily and sacred questions.

- Indigenous crops and food databases: 
The Orona Foundation, Australia :
Foodtank database:
30 traditional crops to celebrate indigenous farming 
Disappeared trees 

___ Local and real time data (pos/neg) 

link generation of text to the waves of the tides, the moon cycle, the quality of the air in certain places or local tree databases:

- Walk along the trees of Madrid:
- Celtic map of trees by Anne-Laure Buisson:

___ Activist stories & information

- Karin Ulmer has worked for more than 20 years with Brussels-based civil society organizations engaging in advocacy and lobbying EU institutions on policies related to sustainable food systems, agriculture and trade, land and seed rights. For the Constant worksession Alchorisma in 2019 she wrote the following text: 
This text inspired An to ask Karin to prepare a list of datasets and current cases she's working on.
The results are here:
Audiofiles of Karin presenting the results are here:

- Z33:
Papers on mining Lithium in East Congo:

- Literature 18th century (from the book Radical Botany, by Natania Meeker)
    Julien Offray de La Mettrie
    Anne Richter
    Emily Dickenson
    Dominique Brancher, Quand l'esprit vient aux plantes
    Guy de la Brosse, De la nature, vertu et utilité des plantes (1628)
    Cyrano de Bergerac, Les Etats et Empires de La Lune
    Cyrano de Bergerac, Les Etats et Empires du Soleil

- Contemporary Literature:
 Octavia Butler, Parabole and the sawer (image of the seed), biopolitics of vegetality!
Ocatvia Butler, Liliths Brood, vegetal matter 
Jamaica Kincaid, My Garden : about the question of the colonial history of the garden

___ Explosive artefacts

How can you critically work with a database that is rooted in colonial, military, Western neoliberal history? How to avoid confirming it, giving it positive attention? 

- Botanical Garden Meise
As part of this research trajectory Anaïs Berck was in residency in the Botanical Garden of Meise in March 22. 
Some interesting texts are:

Interviews with scientists working in the Botanical Garden of Meise reveiled a myriad of local and global databases that they use in their daily practises:
- GBIF: Global Biodiversity Information Facility --> database where you can extract the species list per region -- for example Belgium -- the geolocalisations for each species
- IPNI: International Plant Names Index
-  - 245 institutions on African Type Specimens had free access for people from African Countries -- because often people from within Africa don't have acess to the data, its paid for people outside of Africa and free for people in Africa
- BGCI: Botanical Garden Centers International --> working on a common database
- BICIKL -> the idea is to connect different type of biodiversity data: it is an online, EU platform for researcher without programming skills
- database of literature, Taxonomic treatment database with formal texts.
- Global Biotic Interaction Database 
- a unique identifier for each researcher
- Bionomia is developed and maintained by David P. Shorthouse using specimen data periodically downloaded from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and authentication provided by ORCID. It was launched in August 2018 as a submission to the annual Ebbe Nielsen Challenge. Since then, wikidata identifiers were integrated to capture the names, birth, and dates of death for deceased biologists to help maximize downstream data integration, engagement, and as a means to discover errors or inconsistencies in natural history specimen data. 
- you can find the wikidata profile and it gives you a profile based on the wikidata profile. with the number of publication per year, the topics that are concerned and then a few visualisations. where was it published, but also co-author graphs. You can see groups and see how it propagates, f.ex. masters, invasive species... If you want to do something on species, you can probably start from here. You take a species on wikidata, it's a rabbit hole !
- Ecological Restauration Alliance of Botanical Gardens
- ESCONET European  Native Seed Conservation Network
- : Darwin Core is a standard maintained by the Darwin Core Maintenance Interest Group. It includes a glossary of terms (in other contexts these might be called properties, elements, fields, columns, attributes, or concepts) intended to facilitate the sharing of information about biological diversity by providing identifiers, labels, and definitions. Darwin Core is primarily based on taxa, their occurrence in nature as documented by observations, specimens, samples, and related information.

Datascientist Anne-Laure analysed the herbarium on the stories it does and does not tell, the variables that are not given attention to (f. ex. local names, environment where the plant has been found, description of the tree/bush/plant):



6. Datalab (BNF)

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On June 26 An Mertens had a videocall with the Datalab of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, in the presence of Françoise Simeray (manager), Béatrice Delmérac (didactive activities), Nathalie Hersent (digitisation) and Arnaud Laborderie (Gallica). They introduced her to the Datalab and gave a virtual tour.

The only way to gather books on the topic of trees, is to create a corpus based on a bibliographical search. Not all fiction books are indexed. There are 450 studies on the topic of trees and nature, we can extract bibliographical information one by one. This is a fastidious work. An decided that the time and energy available in this research trajectory was not sufficient to follow their procedure.

These are the different steps we would need to make:

1. a course of 2hs 
we need to prepare a list of texts and semantic field
we can search in plain texfiles inside Gallica
there are about 400000 digitized books
we will get an introduction in how to search in the catalogue of BNF and Gallica, different parts are indexed differently
2. with the created corpus
- check if books are digitized or not; if not, we can ask to digitize (45€ +TVA for a book of 300 pages, it takes about 1 month at the DIP, Département de l'Image et de la prestation numérique)
for books from before 1750 there are no .txt files, but we can use later editions from the 19th century
- check copyright, if they are in the public domain - 70ys after the death of the author
- download the books from Gallica

3. Download from Gallica
there is an api and scripts
you can download up to 5000 books but it can be slow
better to download at night or in the weekends

4. Apply tools on the corpus
BNF has a series of tools
we can meet with research engineer Antoine Desassis

For books that are not numerised or are not in the public domain, it is best to pay a visit to Datalab. Therefore you need a 'carte de chercheur', you can register for this online

7. Set-up of technical infrastructure

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Gijs de Heij prepared the Raspberry Pi server with different workspaces that would enhance collaboration during the residency:

- A local version of the website that could be changed on the flow:

- A Git-repository for sharing code:

- A version of Etherpad Lit to share notes on pads:

- A version of Nextcloud to share material and documents in folders:


Brendan Howell looked into the hardware that would allow to connect the Raspberry Pi server to a solar panel. The set-up consists of a panel, a battery and cables and was tested during the residency. The installation is looking for a permanent residency place. I hope to find this in the studio/garden of Constant in Jette.

8. Caring for a safe space

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In August 23 An Mertens and mediator Femke Snelting met up with Manetta Berendts and Christina Cochior to brainstorm on modalities that could avoid explosive situations due to uninclusive perspectives in a team or project. 

For small groups (max 5 people) we agreed that a framecheck is needed before starting the project. For larger groups we propose the following tools:
- a code of conduct, with a contact person for each day, who is not someone of the organisers. 
- at least 2 people to coordinate the group: if there is an issue that needs dealing with, the second person can take over the coordination of the group
- each participant is assigned a buddy, with whom they check in daily before and after the sessions
- a continuous exchange on experiences and cases, so we can learn and unlearn with an from each other

In preparation for this residency An Mertens applied these instructions
She created the following guidelines for collaboration, which we read at the beginning of day 1:
Each participant was assigned a buddy.
As part of this framework she organised a sitting corner. Every day we would start and end the day there with guided meditations and intimate sharing rounds. Being in the centre of the city, this was also the space where we made our personal connections to trees. On the first day An asked every participant to present a tree that is of importance in their lives, to draw it and to describe it to each other. In the following days An would gradually guide the collaborators towards a closer connection to these trees. By the end of this first part of the residency An assigned the tree collection as our advisory board, that could be consulted with any kind of question during the rest of the residency.
The two sharing moments a day in this sitting corner allowed to make place for tensions that had come up during the day, mainly related to white privilege and dominant positions. Discomfort could be shown, expressed and transformed here.

In retrospect, An believes that the creation and application of these different tools in a successful way are an important result of this research trajectory. The participants expressed their gratitude for this space, for the guidelines, for the care and follow-up. At the end of part 2 of the residency, they also proposed to continue the intimate space in a chatroom hosted on an independent server, where no company is monitoring conversations. 

9. Collaboration guidelines

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Note: These guidelines are adapted from the Constant’s Collaboration Guidelines:
Anaïs Berck was launched by An Mertens in October 2019. The idea of the collective grew out of An's 13 year long commitment as a member of the coordinating team and activities of Constant. Therefore Anaïs Berck shares the philosophy of Constant. Constant is a non-profit, artist-run organisation based in Brussels since 1997 and active in-between art, media and technology. Constant develops, investigates and experiments. Constant departs from feminisms, copyleft, Free/Libre + Open Source Software and works on those vectors through an intersectional perspective. More about Constant:

for the residency of Anaïs Berck in September/October 2022

Every participant of this residency is committed to the focus of the residency as mentioned in the open call:
During the residency participants develop algoliterary publications. These are publishing experiments with algorithms and literary, scientific and activist datasets about trees and nature. We ask ourselves: who and what is excluded, made invisible or exploited in the existent representations, discourses, tools and practices? How can we restore their presences in histories and storytelling? How can we heal and transform ourselves, our tools, our practices, our relationships to the world, our legacies? How can we help to destabilize the centrifugal force in botany, computation and publishing? How can we make books, databases, algorithms visible as objects of doubts and how to go beyond their established forms?
In case of doubt it will be important to look at the bigger picture: does your proposal for the algoliterary publishing house correspond to stories you want to tell in order to contribute to a healthier relationship with Mother Earth and fight against climate change? And to whom are these stories addressed?

Anaïs Berck is committed to environments where possible futures, complex collectivities and desired technologies can be experimented. The spaces that we initiate are therefore explicitly opposed to sexism, racism, queer antagonism, ableism and other kinds of oppression. Our positioning is one of risk-taking and trial and error in which rigour and critique meet with humour, insecurity, tension, ambiguity and mistakes. Fearless, brave environments empower radical complexity.

Departing from feminisms means for Anaïs Berck to be attentive to the sometimes generative, often oppressive arrangements of power, privilege and difference. We understand these arrangements to be related to gender and always to intersect with issues of for example class, race and ability. Finding ways to come to terms with the long colonial history of computation and botany, the way technology impacts ecology, and the relations between them, deserves our ongoing attention.

Anaïs Berck acknowledges that there are asymmetries and inequalities present in any group of human beings. We acknowledge that we all carry wounds and blind spots with us and that these can lead to tension. Therefore we encourage people to be present with a welcoming, listening and questioning, rather than a judging attitude; being conscious that Anaïs Berck attempts to operate from inclusivity rather than exclusivity. We want our work to take very different human beings and their own universes into account but also to include historical and future other-than-human agents. This means to keep challenging our assumptions and to welcome being challenged about ways we might be able to address the intersections of privilege, power, history, culture, inequality, pain, and injustice.

Every day some other participant will take on the role of the contact person. If we are feeling unsafe or seeing someone who seems in distress, we can immediately find the the contact person. They will do their best to help, to address the issue and/or to find the correct assistance if relevant/necessary. Information will be handled with sensitivity.

The past years have confirmed that governmental laws/regulations/measures have often been out of sync with actual needs… so be ready to re-discuss collectively how to relate to these, we encourage to proactively express discomfort / sense it with the others around you. 

Anaïs Berck supports Free Culture because it is a way to acknowledge that culture is a collective effort that deserves to be shared. There is no tabula rasa, no original author; there is a genealogy and a web of references though. When it comes to technology, we think Free Software can make a difference because we are invited to consider, interrogate and discuss the technical details of software and hardware, or when we want to engage with its concepts, politics and histories. Over the last years, we have come to the realisation that being affirmative of Free Culture has to come with more critical considerations. We want to take into account the links of Open Access ideology to colonial extractivism which can obstruct the imagination of complexity and porosity. In addition we want to take into account the rights to opacity in access and transmission of knowledge, especially in regard to marginalized communities. Constant has written a license which tries to address these considerations. We are experimenting with this license and now distribute all Anaïs Berck’s work under the Collective Conditions for (Re)use license:
The experiments as well as the code you will develop during this residency will only be published with your consent, mentioning Anaïs Berck - An Algoliterary Publishing House, and all the humans, trees and algorithms that are part of the experiment. At the end of the residency we will decide what happens with the dedicated server and all materials it contains.

Collaboration Guidelines
We wrote a short version of the guidelines. Against the wall you can find a longer version as well. We invite you to read that one as well when you find some time.

Residencies are intensive transdisciplinary situations to which participants from very different backgrounds contribute. Because of the intensity of exchanges and interactions during residencies, there can be moments of disagreement and discomfort. These moments need to be acknowledged and discussed, within your own limits. 
Even if some of the below guidelines sound obvious, we have experienced that being together can be complicated. We have written these guidelines to think of ways to be together comfortably and attentively. Furthermore, by addressing the guidelines as part of each residency, we hope to create dynamic ways to keep training our abilities to expand and strengthen braver spaces. The guidelines are meant to create potentiality for all, and sometimes this is done by restricting the space taken by some.

Collaboration Guidelines - Short Version
Collaborators with and within Anaïs Berck take the following into account:

    • If you feel you're judging, leave the room and come back.
    • Everything you do from the heart is good.
    • If you prefer to do nothing, stay present and sustain the group energy.
    • Enjoy the process, don't be obsessed by doing it 'right'. There is no success or failure. It is the process that counts.
    • We're all learning to stay with the trouble in the complexities of climate change, injustices, paternalism, exploitations, privileges.
    • All you need is to feel the willingness to show up and be present.
    • Refusing and deconstructing sexism, racism, queer antagonism, ableism, ageism and other kinds of oppression.
    • Leaving physical, emotional and conceptual room for other people.
    • Respecting other beings, present or not, human or more-than-human.
    • Caring for physical and digital environments.
    • Avoiding to speak for others.
    • Try to not be solely guided by your preconceptions.
    • Taking time to actually listen.
    • Asking before assuming.
    • Welcoming multiple processes of (un)learning. The exchange of information, experience and knowledge comes in many forms.
    • Accepting differences. Appreciating divergence in pace, points of view, backgrounds, references, needs and limits.
    • Recognizing that words and ways of speaking impact people in various ways.
    • Caring for language gaps. This is a multi-lingual environment.
    • Using Free, Libre and Open Source software whenever possible.
    • Asking for explicit consent before sharing photographs or recordings on proprietary social networks.
    • The default license for all material and documentation is a Collective Conditions for (Re)use license:
    • Knowing that taking all of the above into account is sometimes easier said than done.
    • Harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated during any Anaïs Berck event, meeting or gathering. See the full guidelines against the wall for what we understand by harassment. 

If we run into conflict with one of these guidelines, or when we see that others are flagging our behaviour:
    • we do not fuel the conflict.
    • we speak with each other.
    • we step out of the room and breathe.
    • we apologise.
    • we come back with a renewed engagement to collaborate.
    • if we continue to transgress the guidelines, we will be asked to leave.

10. Experiments

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The Warehouse and the Forest
Doriane Timmermans and Gijs de Heij worked on the summarization algorithm proposed by Gülce Padem. They discovered that there exist two types of summarisation algorithms:
    - textrank: extractive, extract the most pertaining sentences
    - abstractive: summary from an understanding of the content
Besed on the challenges of the semantic web (to avoid Vastness, Vagueness, Uncertainty, Inconsistency, Deceit), they decided to work on the concept of de-summarisation. This could mean to insert back these values into summarisation algorithm, make something grow, but not more precise, rather more vague/incertain/inconsistent.

Tree Maker
Mara Karagianni and Ahnjili Parrish worked on the tree sort algorithm, introduced by An and Gijs. The initial ideas were about combining the concept of tree branches and the tree sort algorithm to map plants’ names, their year of publication, and including non-scientific content from online forums. The latter, we thought would bring some everyday narration to an otherwise very academic and abstract process of how trees are categorized and named, a methodology developed by Linnaeus in 18th century, amended and further developed in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, which entails the rules of plant naming. However it’s still considered biased as to the syntax and categorization followed.

Brendan Howell had brought his wood cutting tools. He decided to use them in order to create a plastic free keyboard. A kind of input machine for collaborative writing with trees, with a goal of more everyday interaction with trees.

Dreaming with trees
Ipek Bürçak and An Mertens worked on an algorithmic interpretation of the dream collection, presented by Livia Diniz during the first part of the residency.

Sorting trees – sound poem
Gülce Padem made a sound interpretation of the Tree Maker experiment.

FA Fractal from the Future
FA FRACTAL from FUTURES is a magical game within an algorithm, inspired by the Yoruba divinatory art, the FA. Isabelle Alvers and Livia Diniz have created it as a non-digital tool, imagined to decode and remix their long term research and initiatives. The intention is to use this tool to select combinations of possible crossings between their practices and from there, start collaborating on the invention of new initiatives, new anarchic learning experiments based on humans + nonhumans collective intelligence. Insights generated by their experiments with their Fa Fractal from Futures, have inspired them to imagine strategies on how to scale and sustain their ideas and actions throughout time and spaces.

11. Sharing the research

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  • Date begin: November 10 2022
  • Date end: June 30 2023


- St Etienne, FR, ESAD Random (Lab), May-June 23: Digital Tools for Creative Collaboration
On the invitiation of David-Olivier Lartigaud and Jérémie Nuel from ESAD St Etienne, An Mertens will write about her research as one of the 8 essays that will compose their final research publication in the framework of the European programme Erasmus +, initiated by Random (Lab) in collaboration with the Estonian Academy of Arts (Eka), the High School of Design of Schwäbisch-Gmünd (HfG) and the Bureau européen des associations de design (Beda). The publication will presented as part of 3 exhibitions in the 3 partner cities, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Tallinn and Saint-Étienne. 

- Chalon-sur-Saône, FR, June 23: ‘Rewilding Specimens’ in Visual Worlds
The installation in the window of Constant, ‘Rewilding specimens’ by Brendan Howell and An Mertens, will be published in the final publication of Visuals Worlds.
Visual Worlds is a transdisciplinary research and creation programme at Ecole Media Art du Grand Chalon, lead by Olivier Perriquet. The program focuses on the multiplicity of visual phenomena and the variety of their modes of production and perception, in living beings, within artificial vision systems and in the interactions between them. It is animated by a large number of guests from a variety of fields of knowledge and creation, by a research team composed of young artists and researchers, and will conclude with an international artistic and theoretical restitution in the summer of 2023.


- Paris, FR, Ecole de droit de Sciences Po, Semaine Doctorale Intensive,  13 June 23: Strategies for creating a safe space in collective research work
On the invitation of Dr Severine Dusollier, I will share my experiences on creating a safe space during the last residency. 

- Louvain-La-Neuve, UCL, April 23: Pratique du numérique en sciences humaines
On the invitation of Isabelle Gribomont, An Mertens will share the results of this research with a presentation and workshop. This is a Master's course offered as an option to a varied audience (linguistics, multilingual communication, ethics, information science, art history, etc)

- Lyon, FR, 2-3 March 23:  Fiction & données : une perspective éco-décoloniale
lecture in collaboration with Isabelle Gribomont (ILC, UCLouvain), in the symposium ‘Fiction and data’ at the university Jean Moulin Lyon 3, organised by Anais Guilet (LLSETI, USMB), Bertrand Gervais (Figura, UQAM) and Gilles Bonnet (Marge, Lyon3).

- Brussels, LUCA School of Arts, March 23: Narrative Experiences
On the invitation of Guillaume Slizewicz, An Mertens will give a guest lecture about the research to the students of the program Media and Information Design and Graphic Storytelling.


- Stuttgart, Merz Akademie, April 23: Rules rule
On the invitation of Joost Bottema, who was present when we presented the results of the workshop at Constant on 9 September in Brussels, An Mertens will host a workshop on creating a situated database of trees, bushes and other more-than-human beings who live near the Akademie. Next, students will explore a series of algorithms that offer rules to create with, using the material of the situated database.

- Online, London, COPIM, March 23 – Que(e)rying Wikidata
An Mertens and Z Blace will organise a reduced version of the workshop at XPUB in Piet Zwart Insitute (see above). COPIM (Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs) is an international partnership of researchers, universities, librarians, open access book publishers and infrastructure providers. It is building community-owned, open systems and infrastructures to enable open access book publishing to flourish.

- Brussels, Ecole de Recherche Graphique, Feb-March 23: Cultures numériques
On the invitation of Stéphane Noël, Lucille Calmel and Ludivine Loiseau, An Mertens will give a presentation and a series of 3 workshops in company of Gijs de Heij around Que(e)rying Wikidata in the framework of Cultures Numériques, a class for 100 students focusing on the coexistence with other species, territories, invisible phenomena, via treaties, charters, laws, maps and cartographies.

- Brussels, ESA La Cambre, Dec 22: Literary Python
On the invitation of Valéry Cordy, An Mertens gave another series of workshops in ‘CASO Arts Numériques’ in La Cambre, to teach students how to make literary works using the programming language Python. Three of the visitors of the informal sharing moment participated in the course as free students. They also decided to join Algolit. 

- Rotterdam, NL, XPUB PZI Institute, November 22: Que(e)rying Wikidata
This workshop came as a follow-up of the informal sharing moment, where Michael Murtaugh, director of the Experimental Publshing (XPUB) program at PZI Institute of Rotterdam was present. Inspired by the more-than-human approach he invited us to organise a day around Anaïs Berck and Wikidata with the students of XPUB. We decided to lead it in collaboration with Gijs de Heij, queer artivist Z. Blace and Michael Murtaugh himself. 
Wikidata is a free and open knowledge base that can be read and edited by both humans and machines. Wikidata says it acts as central storage for the structured data of its Wikimedia sister projects (e.g. Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, Wiktionary, Wikisource...). While browsing this structured data one can encounter gaps related to different world visions. The notion of more-than-human for example, is absent.
Z.Blace proposed queer methodologies that can help to find the gaps, fill them and play with them. By means of a series of writing exercises with and without code, we created Wikidata-structure like poems about more-than-humans. Thanks to the publishing template of Gijs de Heij, using paged.js, we generated a publication by que(e)rying Wikidata using SPARQL.


- September-March 22: Spot the Blindspot
When Loren Britton decided to leave the research project in Spring 22, the effect was an existential crisis and discomfort amongst the remaining members of the team. As an attempt to find solutions I spoke to friends and artist colleagues. These informal conversations learned me that explosions and crises are very common in art projects dealing with decolonial theory or materials. I learned about situations in art centres, universities, musea, archives, some far away, some very nearby.

Teaching to Transgress ( was a programme taking place in ERG and 2 other EU schools from 2020 till 2022. The project was a collective research and study setting out to develop insights and tools to make higher education institutions more inclusive, with an aspiration to create intersectional feminist and decolonial pedagogies with a focus on the arts. The project encountered a lot of complexities and discomfort. At the end of the trajectory two interesting things happened. They invited the decolonial cultural worker Teresa Cisneros ( to help to review and reflect on the process of this project from multiple perspectives. With her they explored the pain points of the project and shared the insights that they took from this experience so that others can learn from them for collaborative projects in the future. The summary is here:
Laurence Rassel, director of ERG, was so generous as to share the manual that Teresa Cisneros developed for the staff of the Welcome Gallery in London, so they could learn about their blind spots and privileges. 

A group of 8 white people, cultural workers, teachers, artists and researchers, gather in my livingroom once a month since September 22. Each one of them engaged in conversations about decolonial issues with me before and over the Summer. We study the manual of Teresa Cisneros and share experiences and reflections. We call ourselves Spot the Blindspot. We are a selfhelp group, very rich and very necessary. This group is an informal but very concrete result of this research project.

- Brussels, Dec 22 / Jan 23 / Feb 23 / March 23: Algolit sessions on topics of the residency
The desummarization algorithm (by Doriane Timmermans) and the Que(e)rying Wikidata thread are filling up the program of Algolit since the end of the residency.