Terra-Performing is a multi-disciplinary research project that investigates Extractivism by Intelligent Performance methods.


The main objective is to conduct performance research to probe the histories, theories and practices of Extractivism leading up to present times and bring forth issues of inclusivity, sustainability and participation. The project broadly spans the disciplines of Environmental Humanities, New Media, and Performance Studies. It also brings forward the agenda of Critical Artificial Intelligence (CAI) and Critical Robotics Research (CRR).


Extractivism driven by automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) threatens to automate environmental damage and in turn accelerate climate change. Multiple and successive historical enclosures, starting from the conquest of common lands to the enslavement of the human to the harnessing of skills and knowledge have fueled industrial extraction across the globe. Operationalized by 20th century mechanization – labor, culture and techniques of extraction are today swallowed into datasets and propelled by automation. Extractivism fuels digital culture and becomes explicitly present in the arena of intelligent performance that utilizes automation and AI. At the same time, emerging critical thinking challenges the application of such technologies sustained by extractivism in terms of diversity, infrastructures, and energies.


Terra-Performing engages with this emerging discourse through three inter-disciplinary studies examining inclusivity, sustainability and participation in intelligent performance to address Extractivism. Its main objective is to introduce a sustainable framework by incorporating global performative traditions dealing with Extractivism along with energy and environmental impacts into artistic performance practices. Towards this goal, Terra-Performing explores histories and practices of performance, including emerging aesthetic works of intelligent dance and theatre. Investigations into performance with robotics and AI models inquires into alternative infrastructures, resources, and energies.

Terra-Performing will facilitate an inclusive and accessible methodology for intelligent performance. Understanding the resource-use and energies of intelligent performance will radically impact contemporary performance productions. A novel performative archetype will catalyze critical theories and participatory practices driving the sustainable application of intelligent performance addressing Extractivism.

Principal Investigator (PI)

Dr. Samir Bhowmik is a Helsinki-based multi-disciplinary artist, architect and scholar. He is currently an Academy Research Fellow at the Academy of Fine Arts (Uniarts Helsinki) where he explores extractivism & ecology through film, installation and performance. Samir received a Doctor of Arts (2016) (Art & Design) from Aalto University, Finland, and a Master of Architecture (2003) from the University of Maryland, United States. His recent performative project ‘Lost Islands’ examined the entnaglemnts of nature and infrastrcuture as part of the Helsinki Biennial 2021. In 2020, Bhowmik collaborated with American artist Lenore Malen in the performance film “Where From Here” that explored virtuality and ecology in the time of pandemic. For the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, he collaborated with Dr. Jussi Parikka for ‘Paperwork of Energy’ in the Turkish Pavilion (Architecture as Measure). Recently, Samir also led a lecture -workshop on ‘Media Cultures of Extraction’ as part of an Art-Science-Ecology course commissioned by IHME Helsinki 2021.

Samir teaches the “Ecological Thinking” seminar in the Doctoral Program at the Academy of Fine Arts, and mentors Masters and Doctoral students in the areas of new media, artistic research and the environment. Since 2019, Samir serves on the Editorial Board of Journal of Media Art Study and Theory at the State University of New York. He has published articles on media, ecology, art and performance in several international journals (including Leonardo – MIT Press).

Contact information for the project

Project name

Terra-Performing – Unfolding Extractivism by Intelligent Performance Research




Academy Research Fellow Project, funded by the Academy of Finland.


Academy Research Fellow Samir Bhowmik (samir.bhowmik@uniarts.fi)

Performance Researcher Lydia Touliatou (lydia.touliatou@uniarts.fi) 

Data Science Researcher Minh Anh Nguyen (anh.minh@uniarts.fi

Dr. Alison Powell, Associate Professor, London School of Economics, UK


The project’s international collaborations include:

Visiting collaborator:

Ecological Thinking Seminar 2023-24, Collaborator