Vibrant Soils
exhibition, Jordens Hus, 2023
A collaborative project by Artist Sarah Trahan, Design researcher Louise Permiin, and Soil biologist and Senior Researcher Emeritus Paul Henning Krogh.
Vibrant Soils was shown alongside the work of Sophie Dupont as a part of the show Jord/Luft at Jordens Hus in Albertslund, DK.

Vibrant Soils is an evolving artistic research project that creates sensory tools and experiences that call attention to the complex and beautiful worlds beneath our feet. Through the use of a co-design process involving ourselves, the soil biota and various technologies, our project aims to shift human senses and perspectives underground, to encourage a new relationship between ourselves and our soils.

In Vibrant Soils, we used the grounds of Vridsløselille Fængsel as our research location. In field work here we investigated the local earth and observed the different kinds of earthworms living in the topsoil. In this field work we collected soil, as well as unique sound recordings from sites around the grounds of the former prison. We used these soil sound recordings as the basis from which to generate digital sculptures that we 3D-printed in local clay made from our soil samples. These hand-sized clay sculptures were shown in a former cell where speakers played an amplified version of the soil sounds the objects were sculpted from. Shown alongside this experimental installation were; soil terraria with live earthworms, large-scale photographs of soil samples, videos documenting soil research and scientific papers related to soil health and the lives of earthworms. Our aim with this exhibition was to activate a different kind of sensory connection with Vridsløselille Fængsel‘s soil and its inhabitants. It is our hope that the organisms, prototypes, images and texts shared in Vibrant Soils can contribute towards an expanded understanding of soil health in relation to the lives of earthworms.

As an additional part of the Vibrant Soils exhibition, we offered soil listening and clay 3D-printing workshops with artists Robert Cole Rizzi and Anna Andersen that invited participants to explore their own sensory interaction with soil and with the grounds of Vridsløselille Fængsel.

+ Jord/Luft press release

Exhibition view; Earthworm habitat.

Exhbition view; Earthworm habitats. Local topsoil and earthworms, 100 x 30 x 100 cm acrylic with wood stands.

Exhibition view; Soil Sounds Room. Installation, speakers playing soil sound recordings and set of Sound Sculptures generated from the recordings.

Soil Sound Sculptures. 3D prints using local clay from Vridsløselille Fængsel and stoneware, various dimensions.

Detail, Soil Sound Sculptures.

Exhibition view; Process Room. Process video on screen.

Exhibition view; Studio Room with design and sculpture protoypes. Bioplastics and clay, various dimensions.

Soil Sample from site 04, Vridsløselille Fængsel.
Archival Inkjet Print, 24 x 36”.

Soil Sample from site 01, Vridsløselille Fængsel.
Archival Inkjet Print, 24 x 36”.


Soil Sample, site 02, Vridsløselille Fængsel.
Archival Inkjet Print, 24 x 36”.

Soil Sample from site 06, Vridsløselille Fængsel.
Archival Inkjet Print, 24 x 36”.

Exhibition view; Earthworm Room. Scientific literature and earthworm burrow visualization videos.

Field work: Collecting earthworms for the exhibition habitats.

Field work: Collecting soil samples from the grounds of Vridsløselille Fængsel.
Field work: Extracting clay from soil samples.

Field work: Printing sculptures with local clay.

Clay 3D print test with local clay.

Clay 3D print tests with local clay, after bisque firing.