Installation and Archive Work of Wetness: Condition of Sustainability


The design of human habitation begins more fundamentally with the articulation of an earth surface with a line separating water from the land.
Dilip Da Cunha

God created the Earth but the Dutch created the Netherlands.
Dutch saying

Closed-system sustainability is presented as a solution to climate change, resource depletion and environmental contamination. Essentially, however, it serves as a spatial and technical fix to the ecological limits of anthropogenic modes of production. Composed of infrastructures and environmental policies, sustainable closed-systems demand constant expansion to sustain the production of accumulation. They enclose available resources and previously marginalized ecological bodies and continuously direct them towards agents that serve the system by extending its reach. Those who fail to adapt are eliminated, culminating in novel socio-ecological regimes and spatial conditions that amplify the inherent contradiction between modes of production and ecological bodies.

This research project follows wetness control systems in Westland, the Netherlands that grow across, above and deep below the surface to efficiently and sustainably make wetness productive. The project locates greenhouse horticulture in the centre of its diagram and extends it to the soilless growing technique, hydroponics, historic land reclamation and its legacy, the canal system, the national transition to geothermal energy, and environmental policies which form a network that designs the contemporary relationship between humans and wetness in the Netherlands. Guided by interviews and field work, this research reveals the extractive logics that shape closed-systems, exposes the politics of sustainable solutions, and follows the watery rebels of wetness towards a different mode of sustainability.


The installation on the main floor of the exhibition space invites the viewers to walk 4 km into the subsurface, the vertical reach of wetness management and control systems in the Netherlands. The participants are guided by the information on the console piece and four accompanying audio clips on the mp3 player. Each audio clip instructs the participants to set the treadmill to a certain speed and narrates wetness and its management and control systems of a specific layer on the vertical axis: the high surface and the surface, the shallow subsurface, the subsurface, and the deep subsurface. The 4 km journey, both in narration and in literal distance, is completed when all four clips are listened to and their instructions are followed.

Audio Clip 1/4_High Surface and Surface Wetness
Audio Clip 2/4_Shallow Subsurface Wetness
Audio Clip 3/4_Subsurface Wetness
Audio Clip 4/4_Deep Subsurface Wetness


The online archive utilizes a vertical diagram to organize the research materials used in this project. This structure exposes the logic of sustainable solutions, showing the vertical expansion of wetness management and control systems that sustainability necessitates in the Netherlands. The archive was designed in collaboration with Alex Lahr.



The multi-layered video installation was created during the research phase of the project to unveil the procees. It organizes all the research materials, both used and discarded into four separate narratives to make sense of the so-called “future of agriculture” practiced in Westland, the Netherlands.


Wake Island

Invest in Holland

Flying Carpet