• Jenna Sutela_From Hierarchy to Holarchy 2015

Programs | Performance Extremophile with Jenna Sutela

November 18, 2019, 6:00PM

ACT Cube, Wiesner Building E15, Rm 001, lower atrium level, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA

This event has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Extremophile, Jenna Sutela’s performance/presentation considers the idea of embodied cognition on a planetary scale, presenting an audiovisual and narrative zoom from outer space to inside our gut. Understanding oneself as interconnected with wider environments marks a profound shift in subjectivity, one beyond anthropocentrism and individualism. Key concepts include extremophiles and panspermia. 

Jenna Sutela
is a Finnish, Berlin-based artist who works with words, sounds, and other living media. She engages with both futuristic and ancient materials in audiovisual pieces, sculptures, and performances. Sutela’s work seeks to override aspects of culture based on a survival-of-the-fittest narrative in favor of symbiotic relationships between all life forms, both organic and synthetic.  She is currently an artist in residence through the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) Visiting Artist Program.

As a bio-artist, Sutela’s microbial collaborators include Physarum polycephalum, the “many-headed” slime mold with a decentralized nervous system, and the extremophilic Bacillus subtilis nattō bacterium. Recently, she has also collaborated with artificial neural networks.

Sutela’s work has been presented internationally at locations including Guggenheim Bilbao, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, and the Serpentine Galleries in London.

Past projects include nimiia vibié, sounds of machine learning and interspecies communication, released summer 2019 on the record label PAN; and the audio-visual work nimiia cétiï, completed in early 2018. nimiia cétiï was produced in collaboration with Memo Akten as part of n-Dimensions, Google Arts & Culture’s artist-in-residence program at Somerset House Studios in London. Using machine learning, audio recordings of an invented Martian language, and the movements of the nattō bacteria, nimiia cétiï generates a new form of communication that aspires to connect with a world beyond human consciousness.

Sutela also launched the publication Orgs: From Slime Mold to Silicon Valley and Beyond in 2017, which presents her research into the slime mold along with decentralized organizations to explore unknown possibilities for future life on Earth.

This event is presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST), and is part of the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) Lecture Series.


  • Jenna Sutela, From Hiearchy to Holarchy, 2015. Photo: Mikko Gaestel.


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