Emergence and Microbes in Helsinki


Vision Forum will present the third incarnation of Governing Bodies. The project has previously appeared in Östersund and in Copenhagen. The session in Finland is co-curated by Per Hüttner and Till Bovermann. It is co-organised with The Bioart Society and takes place June 1-5, 2022. Together the two organisations invite you to five days of performances, lectures, concerts, workshops, sauna trips and a mixture of these expressions.

Huttner will present an immersive installation/demonstration of the EEGsynth at Bioart Society. He will also make music for Carima Neusser’s performance at the same venue and for Freddie Ross’s performative lecture at Akusmata.


Each human being lives in symbiosis with 1,5kg of microbes. They live in and on our body and because they are so tiny they outnumber the amount of cells that make up our bodies. They influence our health and probably also our personality. Governing Bodies is an international group of artists from multiple genres (visual art, dance and music) who work closely with researchers in biochemistry, psychiatry and material sciences. Together they share a deep interest in how humankind’s growing understanding about the microbes in the human body influence humankind’s understanding of itself and our place in the world.

The group has met, discussed, cooked, eaten and made interdisciplinary art events about microbes since 2018. During this time they have also changed how they eat, how they understand their bodies and the world they inhabit. In June 2022 the group will travel to Helsinki where they will share their knowledge, experience and also learn from you. The work (with artists and institutions in Finland) constitutes a collective effort to inspire new thinking, new eating habits and new perspectives on art.

In Finland special focus will given to microbes and emergence. Nature is filled with examples of how complex behaviours arise from relatively simple elements: we see this in how ants behave, or in how fish shoals or bird flocks interact. The term emergence is used to describe these fascinating manifestations of self-organisation that can, at first glance, seem inexplicable. Where does the extra injection of complexity suddenly come from? One thing is clear: these emergent phenomena can only be understood as collective behaviours — there is no way to make sense of them without looking at dozens, hundreds, thousands or more of the contributing elements. These wholes are indeed greater than the sums of their parts.

In Governing Bodies Helsinki we will investigate how emergent properties influence our relationship with the microbes that we live in symbiosis with. For instance, the group has noticed that when they change their eating habits it affects the microbes in their gut, which influences their health and overall mood, which affects what they eat etc. creating infinite feedback loops.

The whole program is open to the public and the events can be visited free of charge.