As a contribution to the interdisciplinary movement to decolonize fields across the social sciences and humanities, this thesis investigates how creatives reimagine the relationships that exist between humans and non-humans of the North Sea, by using automated technologies. Humans, automated tech, and environments co-create alternative visions of the relations that people share with the North Sea, meaning that they are interrelated entities that build on each other’s work. This thesis combines Actor Network Theory (ANT) and Decolonial studies to study artworks and algorithms within sociological theory. ANT focuses on the connections between human and non-human entities and considers non-human agency within the forming of networks, whereas Decolonial studies help to identify disparities among living entities and envisage different intersections of science, art, technology, and ecology that are necessary to explore the multifaceted issue of viewing human to other-than-humans relations of the North Sea. Moreover, the topic aligns with other political and social affairs such as climate justice, which makes the investigation of alternative perceptions of our relation to the North Sea an important step towards decolonising the perception of ‘nature’. A document analysis of multi-media was conducted to analyse textual and audio material (podcasts) about artworks, as this method helps to systematically analyse the material into themes. Participant observation and semi-structured interviews allowed for a deeper understanding of the artist’s motivations and decision making processes that is significant for this thesis. Empirical data was collected from different cases, among which Taal voor de Toekomst is at the core of this thesis. This project experiments with an algorithm (AI Zee) to create an ecological language that can express relations between beings. Two smaller cases complement the primary case, as they show a different way to co-create with AI to either personify the North Sea or try to see the world from a more-than-human point of view.

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Jess Bier, Freek de Haan
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Brussee, E. (2021, June 21). Art, Algorithms and the North Sea: Decolonizing and Reimagining Human Perceptions of the North Sea. Sociology. Retrieved from