The Tropical Turn — Maneuvers for a Planetary Embodiment

Juan Pablo García Sossa

The Tropical Turn — Maneuvers for a Planetary Embodiment is a thought experiment and research project that explores other modes of coexistence between all forms of life on the planet from a Tropikós perspective.

The project consists of a set of tools, interfaces and artifacts intersecting endotic and emerging technologies for sensing the planet. Sensing the planet means combining quantitative, qualitative and narrative data and cosmologies to have sensorial experiences of the planet. What other perspectives can we acquire when we understand the planet as extensions of our bodies?

The tropics are regions that have been historically exploited, undervalued, and exoticised. Very often they are considered cocktails of sun, diversity and crises where fertile grounds face troubled realities that challenge everyday what is possible and what is not. If crises can be understood as a turning point, from its permanent state of crisis, the tropics have developed an elastic resilience that goes beyond resistance and is closer to re-existence. But the tropics are more than a physical and geographical space – they could be understood as a mindset.

From the ancient belief that the sun turned back at the solstices, emerges the Tropikós: the etymology of the word Tropics, meaning the point where things turn. The Tropical Turn, as a mindset, is the ability to turn around the pulses of our natural and artificial environments and develop symbiotic relationships with all living and nonliving beings and the planet, beyond the idea of control and domination. We can understand the Tropical Turn as a shift from FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source Software) Technologies into FLOW (Free Libre Open Wild) Systems. These are technologies meant to be cannibalized taking diverse forms of situated knowledge.

Through sensorial artifacts embracing the planetary interdependence, The Tropical Turn drafts maneuvers for driving the human into planetary sentient beings.


Juan Pablo García Sossa (JPGS) (*Bogotá) is a designer, researcher and artist fascinated by the clash between emerging technologies and grass-root popular culture in tropical territories. His practice explores the development of cultures, visions, realities and worlds through the remix and reappropriation of technologies from a Tropikós perspective (Tropics as Region and Mindset). JPGS has been part of diverse research institutions and design studios and currently is a design research member at SAVVY Contemporary The Laboratory of Form-Ideas’ Design Department in Berlin and Co-Director of Estación Terrena, a space for arts, research and technologies in Bogotá. JPGS is a 2020 Rapid Response for a Better Digital Future Fellow at EYEBEAM.

(photo: Raisa Galofre)