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We Are Symbiotic Greg Herbert

We Are Symbiotic (2020)

In a political economy of consumption and growth, we have become removed from listening to the earth’s stories. Inspired by symbiosis - the interaction between two different organisms living close together - We are Symbiotic explores the movements of fungi, sea slugs, frogs, octopuses, sea anemones, gut flora and lichen. Through a meditative video narrative, the movement of our human bodies blends with the movements of creatures, plants and organisms: opening a dialogue about alternative collaborations, consciousnesses and economies that take place at a slower pace, and teaching us to build a deeper connection with the natural world.

Soundtrack by Anna Peaker.

Click here to view the work.


The human body is attuned to collaboration: complex crosstalk happens constantly between the systems within it. Assemblages of microbial communities form, creating a collective intelligence and codependence between humans and non-humans: from the bacteria in our gut, to the microorganisms on our skin.

Down on the earth's crust, lichen lies in a thin layer between the earth and the atmosphere. Lichen is formed from mutually beneficial associations between fungus, yeast and algae, all working together to cultivate the surrounding environment, and becoming cross-dimensional collaborators.

Frogs undergo metamorphosis from the aquatic tadpole into the amphibious frog. Moss - the amphibian of vegetation - was among the first organisms to emerge from the ocean. Like frogs and moss, humans also made this evolutionary transition from ocean to land.

In the depths of the ocean, the sunlight from above scans the sea bed and highlights the contours of the octopus tentacles. Tentaculum is the latin for tentacle, meaning ‘feeler’, and tentare, meaning ‘to feel’ and ‘to try’.

The Elysia Chlorotica - or the solar-powered sea slug - traverses evolutionary space and biological ways of life: it becomes a plant-animal hybrid by absorbing chloroplast from the ocean flora that it eats, triggering a genetic reaction that allows it to photosynthesise. Harnessing the plant wisdom within its cells, the sea slug inhabits a space in between, a space where it becomes a cyborg of beings.

Take this time to allow your body to rest and be supported by the ground: feel your body resting on the contours of the earth. Remake kin and resynthesise your body with the symbiosis of the earth.