Surfing the Semiosphere is a collaborative workshop between Jonathan Reus and Judith van der Elst, whose anthropological work looks at indigenous forms of navigational knowledge. The project has taken shape as two workshops, one at TodaysArt Festival in the Hague in 2015, and one at the Frankenstein festival in Arnhem. We’re speculating on the creation of navigational techniques based on alternative (non-western) navigation and a biosemiotic understanding of environments (as a network of signs, signals and information-carrying relationships through different forms of matter).

The workshop is at its core an exploration of the semiosphere, a concept arising from the marriage of sensory anthropology and semiotics that attempts to construct a culture’s worldview based on the nature and importance of sensory signals in the environment, be it natural or man-made. We created some exercises using some instrumentations we provided (biometric sensors) and those brought by the audience to use as field tools for capturing environmental signs and signals, and together try to understand the process by which sensation becomes meaning.