Soil-brain, Gut-brain

Sculpture and audio, 2023

Soil-brain and Gut-brain are new works comprising a sound piece (8 min 15 secs) and a ceramic sculpture. They form part of a wider research project titled Making Kin with Soil, presented in collaboration with the Eden Project, University of Exeter’s Environmental and Sustainability Institute, and Radical Ecology.

Both artworks intend to disrupt notions that soil should remain in place, envisioning soil as a body that both moves and behaves. While we often reflect on the importance of soils to us, these pieces prompt us to contemplate what other bodies mean to soils.

Soil-brain, the audio-piece, takes the form of a meditative journey. Listeners are invited to take on the perspective of a thinking, acting, and feeling soil body, and reflect on what fertility, productivity, and vitality mean to soils. The piece concludes with an invitation to inhabit soil’s skin, and experience an earthworm entering their surface layer, adjusting their weight, thickness, and porosity.

Gut-brain, is a tall vessel shaped out of clay. The vessel recalls the digestive system of an earthworm - tracing its form from the mouth, pharynx and oesophagus, all the way down to the crop, gizzard, and intestine. These stacked vessels symbolise the journey of soils and nutrients as they pass through an earthworm’s body - where they are mined, recycled, tamed, cleared, and renewed.

Together, these two artworks raise questions about the relationships between soils and earthworms. Is the soil eating and absorbing the earthworm, or the earthworm consuming the soil? The intent, to explore non-human entanglements through the lens of of eating, digesting, and nourishment. 
© Iman Datoo