Jord/Luft: 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 this iteration of Vibrant Soils, our research focused on the grounds of Vridsløselille Fængsel. Through fieldwork, we delved into the local earth, paying special attention to the earthworm species residing in the topsoil. As we dug into the ground, we not only collected the soil but also captured unique sound recordings from different sites around the former prison. As we listened to the soil, we wondered - how could we make these small and hidden sounds of soil life more tangible? What happens when you can hold a sound in your hands and feel its shape?

In this experiment towards a sensory experience of soil sounds, we developed a process to transform our sound recordings into 3D-models. We then took these digital models and 3D-printed them in various types of clay, including some local wild clay that we harvested and processed ourselves. The resulting hand-sized soil sound sculptures were showcased at Jordens Hus alongside amplified soil sound recordings, live earthworms in soil terraria, large-scale soil photographs, videos documenting our research, and scientific papers on soil health and earthworm lives.

With this project, our aim was to enable human engagement and sensory connection with Vridsløselille Fængsel's soil and its inhabitants. Through organisms, sculptures, images, and texts, we sought to contribute to 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 from 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.