Sense to Act:
The Aquatic Observatory
May 23, 2020 – January 9, 2021
ZKM, Karlsruhe

Sea Lovers, 2020, © Ingo Niermann

“Sense to Act: The Aquatic Observatory”​ is a film screening co-curated by TBA21–Academy and ZKM for the Critical Zones exhibition showing a selection of works created as part of the long-standing commissions’ program of the Academy dedicated to foster a deeper understanding of the ocean through the lens of art.

To study the ocean is an attempt to overcome the well-known idea that there are fewer places on earth that we know less about than the ocean. The fascination with the ocean and the fear for it necessitate demystifying the ocean in order to clearly see its fundamental role in the evolution and conservation of life on earth. From the Arctic to the Antarctic, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, from the deepest point in Oceania to the shallow waters of the Caribbean, there is life throughout the ocean, in their coldest and warmest waters, in every part of the interconnected system. Organisms, including the unknown animals that are regularly discovered in the ocean, algae, coral reefs, mammals, and fish all form a complex system that is affected by the consequences of human actions from extraction to sea level rise, hurricanes, ice melting, and the rise of water temperatures.

Observing these changes and caring about the ocean have become an essential commitment of the human-to-nonhuman relationship that is at stake. Fijians say “I am the Ocean. The Ocean is on me,” which proves an ancestral understanding of experiencing the ocean through and with an aquatic lens. The artworks presented in this project express the ongoing understanding and caring of the ocean, one of the main sources of life. The screening program features films by Inhabitants, Ingo Niermann, and Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll. The different works express various ways to observe, explore, and sense this rich ecosystem, which, although it feels far from human routines, is completely embedded in our systems. Narratives play a crucial role in these artworks, from ancestral healing rituals to educational resources and loving propositions, the artworks on view all employ different forms of storytelling that motivate action and explore the continuous transformations that surround and unsettle humankind Ocean literacy resources are available at

What Is Deep Sea Mining? 
Video, color, sound
Episode 1: “Tools for Ocean Literacy”, 6:46 min.
Episode 2: “Deep Frontiers”, 6:47 min.
Episode 3: “The Azores Case”, 8:23 min.
Episode 4: “A Deep Sea Mining Glossary”, 5:37 min.

Commissioned by TBA21–Academy
Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll 
Te Haa Kui o Tangaroa 
HD video, color, sound, 5:20 min

Commissioned by TBA21–Academy
Ingo Niermann 
Sea Lovers
HD video, color, sound, 19:39 min.
Written and directed by Ingo Niermann | Featuring performances by Ana María Millán and the fellows of the TBA21–Academy The Current II, Expedition #2, “The
Solomon Exercises", led by Chus Martínez | Filmed and edited by Roman Bayarri
with additional footage by | Pierre Beltran (drone and underwater); Ana-Maria Millan (dog, worms); Daniel Patterson (dolphins); Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza (octopus) | Score: Spoken and sung by Franziska Aigner and Dan Bodan | Produced by Ville Haimala

Commissioned by TBA21–Academy
Markus Reymann and María Montero Sierra (TBA21–Academy), Bettina Korintenberg and Daria Mille (ZKM).

ZKM | Center for Art and Media
Lorenzstraße 19, 76135 Karlsruhe, Germany
Ticketed event
Inhabitants, launched in September 2015, is an online channel for exploratory video and documentary reporting. It has worked with; Max Plank Institute & HKW, Berardo Museum and Contour Biennial 8. They were shortlisted for the 2017 Visible Award. 
Ingo Niermann 1969, born in Bielefeld, is a writer and the editor of the speculative book series Solution. His debut novel Der Effekt was published in 2001. He also co-founded the revolutionary collective Redesigndeutschland. His work has been featured in Berlin Biennale, dOCUMENTA(13), MoMA and La Biennale di Venezia.
Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll 1981, born in Melbourne, is an artist and historian focussed on decolonization. Her work has been shown internationally including at the Venice, Marrakech, and Sharjah Biennales, at Taxispalais, ICA London and HKW Berlin.