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Making of Berl-Berl

Commissioned by LAS, Berl-Berl is an immersive installation by artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen.

10 July – 26 September 2021 Exhibition Venue: Halle am Berghain, Berlin

© Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Berl-Berl (2021). Live simulation (stills). Commissioned by Light Art Space (LAS). Courtesy the artist.

Visitors to this immersive world experience live what is on view at Halle am Berghain.

© Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Berl-Berl (2021). Live simulation (stills). Commissioned by Light Art Space (LAS). Courtesy the artist.

Berl-Berl is a song for the swamp, a place for the undefinable — morphing, liminal and mystical. Berl-Berl mourns what is lost and embraces what is new.

— Jakob Kudsk Steensen

Jakob Kudsk Steensen (b. 1987, Køge, Denmark) works at the vanguard of art and technology, utilising advancements in photography and gaming platforms to create immersive, three-dimensional worlds in direct relation to our natural world. The exhibition and online world Berl-Berl starts with a swamp as its protagonist – its ecosystem, history and mythologies – and pays tribute to Berlin's origin as a wetland that formed over 10,000 years ago, and was drained in the 1700s. ‘Berl’, the ancient Slavic word for swamp, is thought to be the origin of ‘Berlin’ and gives the exhibition its name.

The artist spent months researching the remaining wetlands of Berlin-Brandenburg, creating an archive of images using a method of macro photogrammetry in which he takes hundreds of images of a single object such as a leaf or patch of mud. Kudsk Steensen renders his findings in a 3D plan to create an immersive, absolute landscape using the video game platform Unreal Engine, a constant within his practice. Partnering with the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, he also wove local specimens from their extensive archive into the visual and acoustic world of Berl-Berl. As songs were essential to ancient wetland culture and used to navigate the swamp and to share its mythologies, Kudsk Steensen collaborated with sound artist Matt McCorkle and singer Arca to create the world’s soundscape. Arca’s voice morphs with environmental sounds that include those made by local amphibians and birds.

Berl-Berl is not only an image of the wetlands – it holds the memories of its past mythologies. Before it was drained, this saturated landscape proved ideal for the settlement of Slavic communities. Sorbian folklore, permeates the work’s narrative wherein a Triglav, a deity, appears as a great tree. The artist connects the mythology of this three-headed deity representing three dimensions of Slavic cosmology –Prav (Heaven), Yav (Earth) and Nav (Underworld) – to his understanding of the swamp. In Berl-Berl, the ecology is also a Triglav, it moves from undergrowth and fungi to water, leaves, and trees and sky – an entire, holistic landscape.

In combining his images and recordings from the wetlands with research on ecosystems, the artist builds a bridge between us and the history beneath our feet. Halle am Berghain becomes a gateway in which relics of the Ice Age connect to present-day wetlands, drawing attention to our current environmental reality. Kudsk Steensen reveals a perspective that would otherwise be impossible to see or experience with the hope of sparking a newfound appreciation for the swamp and to reimagine our role within this ecosystem that sustains us.

Curated by Emma Enderby Assistant Curator: Liz Stumpf

© Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Berl-Berl (2021). Live simulation (stills). Commissioned by Light Art Space (LAS). Courtesy the artist.

Jakob Kudsk Steensen invited Johannes Heldén and Precious Okoyomon to respond to the world of Berl-Berl.

A Field Guide to Berl-Berl

Channelling Astroecology: Poems for Berl-Berl by Johannes Heldén

Johannes Heldén is a visual artist, writer and musician. He created six poems in response to six elements within Berl-Berl: fluorescent mushrooms, mangrove sedges, the water strider, a thunderstorm, ferns, and the unknown. To form his poems, Heldén used his method of astroecology, the study of biological life interacting with non-terrestrial conditions – in space, meteorites and other planets.

Sky Song for Berl-Berl

Precious Okoyomon

Precious Okoyomon is a poet, chef and artist living in New York City. Their poem is an ode to the sky and clouds of Berl-Berl. To create the work, Kudsk Steensen shared videos of the transforming sky with Okoyomonn and they replied with these words.

Jakob Kudsk Steensen


Jakob Kudsk Steensen is an artist working with environmental storytelling through 3D animation, sound and immersive installations. He creates poetic interpretations about overlooked natural phenomena through collaborations with field biologists, composers and writers. His projects are based on extensive fieldwork several months-long in duration. Key collaborators include composer Michael Riesman, ornithologist Dr H. Douglas Pratt, architect Sir David Adjaye, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY and the Natural History Museum in London among others. He was the inaugural recipient of the Serpentine Galleries’ Augmented Architecture Commission, which was established with Google Arts & Culture and Sir David Adjaye in 2019. Kudsk Steensen was shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize 2019, for his work RE-ANIMATED (2018–19) in Kiev and the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019.

LAS is a Berlin-based art foundation that brings together art, technology and science. Committed to new ways of presenting art, LAS commissions experimental projects, both physical and digital, in unconventional spaces. LAS is dedicated to future thinking and light is the foundation’s guiding principle—a symbol of imagination, discovery and innovation.


Jakob Kudsk Steensen: Berl-Berl, 2021 Live simulation. Sound composition and music by Matt McCorkle Featuring music by Arca © 2021 Jakob Kudsk Steensen Commissioned by Light Art Space (LAS) Curated by Emma Enderby Assistant Curator: Liz Stumpf Website by International Magic

Unless otherwise stated, all images © Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Berl-Berl (2021). Live simulation (stills). Commissioned by Light Art Space (LAS). Courtesy the artist.

Jakob Kudsk Steensen

Creator and Artist

Elizabeth Kircher


Matt McCorkle

Sound composer



Johannes Heldén


Erratic Animist Studio

3D development and technology design

Wouter Weynants

Technical manager

Todd Bryant

Tech consultant

Andrea Familari

Installation producer

Lugh O’Neill

Spatial sound design

Valentin Kraft

Point cloud animation

Wkshps x Studio Pandan

Visual Identity

Jan Fischer, Founder

Dr Bettina Kames, Director

Kristina Leipold, Commercial Director

Amira Gad, Head of Programmes

Felix Thon, Head of Marketing and Communications

Monika Kerkmann, Project Manager

Ruth Kißling, Curator

Liz Stumpf, Assistant Curator

Sophie Korschildgen, Curatorial Assistant

Selin Şahin, Communications Manager

Tilman Hatje, Exhibition Manager

Flinder Zuyderhoff-Gray, Production Manager

Jasna Kohnert Stavenhagen, Office Manager

Cornelia Riebe and Maria Janus, Location Managers

Adam Rodgers, Creative Director

Ben McKinnon, Creative Producer

Agnete Morell, Designer

Jack Wild, WebGL Developer

Niklas May, Developer

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