Research Diary

Mödling, Sunday April 28th, 2023


16. Entry (Benigna):


Dear symbuddies,

I love your project, and in particular the diary part and your thoughts. I think you might be interested in successful examples of hard scientific negotiations, related to the post below:

„Some researchers exchange insights and ideas. A conflict shows up.
Solution: Endless negotiations and “voting”, until finally all ideas have been freed from distinctive edges and glitches and a total consensus is possible. Mostly, this cannot be achieved – and maybe that's good.“ (Entry 5)

I agree that circles of voting often lead away from consensus, nevertheless, it is a well-developed scientific process. Do you know the IPCC? It is a cycle of research activity, where about 500-1000 climate scientists (the best ones in the fields) work together to assess the latest knowledge. They write an assessment, which has to be approved by ALL of them AND policy makers. This is very hard and cumbersome. But it happens! Hard and difficult agreements need to be found, always based on scientific evidence, and some need to give up devoted ideas in order to achieve agreements. BUT the final text is a full agreement! This is how we can say, e.g. that all scientists agree that climate change is caused by human activity. All agree. Those who keep claiming the opposite are outliers, were not in the process or not scientists at all. There are many scientific findings that are scrutinized very well due to the renegotiation process.

Best regards again, and all the best for the project!


Mödling, Monday March 27th 2023


15. Entry (Iliya): 



I am Iliya and I am part of Team "PAI"! Today, we have finished the power point for our Amakasius. Amakasius consists of stones and sticks. He is very important for the environment, because he is garbage! Ok, I need to continue. Bye!


Mödling, Thursday March 30th, 2023


14. Entry (Dogwarts):


Hello, I am Dogwarts!


Today, I would like to tell you my story, how I came to my friends and how I feel, expelled from the other Dowarts. First of all, I’d like to introduce my friends to you and explain, who did what within this Dogwarts-project. The participants of this project are: Luise, Lotte, Magdalena, Helena and Alessia. They are the best friends I can imagine. If somebody wants them any harm, I of course protect them AT ONCE. Sadly, I could not safe my parents, but more about this later. The tasks have been precisely shared: Luise wrote this diary-entry for me and has drawn the logo, Lotte has built me in Minecraft and together with Magdalena has been drawing me on paper and decorated me with natural materials. Alessia and Helena have created a Powerpoint-presentation and Helena has drawn me with a fin as a fish. To protect them, I have special abilities. These are: courage, loyalty, strength, I can hear and see well, can change color and appearance, I am intelligent, swift and quick. I have inherited all of this from my parents, but they are dead. There are two lineages of Dogwarts. The black and the white, but they are enemies. Very big enemies. My mother was of the white and my father of the black. Naturally, it was not allowed so they’ve been punished. They were attacked by both packs and bled to death from their wounds. Luise, Magdalena, Helena, Alessia and Lotte found me after that and took me in. I have a doghouse in front of my friends’ flat share. I can leave anytime and roam freely. My friends have invented a scream to call me back when they’re in trouble. Like this, we’re always together and I can help them.

Mödling, Monday March 27th 2023

13. Entry (Konstantin V.):

Hello Symbuddy – friends!

There has been a lot of argument lately around one member of "die Chaoten". Because I wanted a "friend" to become member of our group, but the two other members did not want that, and that triggered a conflict in our team. Friendships have been broken because of this member. Finally, after five art lessons, the conflict has been resolved and he wasn't allowed to be part of the group. I hope there is going to be no more fighting in our team.


Darmstadt, Monday March 27th 2023


12. Entry (Matthias Herrgen / anthropologist, guest on March 16th 2023):

(Translated from German by Verena Miedl-Faißt – unedited!)


The class projects in the spirit of parallel working groups the drafts of their SYMBUDDIES. Corporeal creatures are being constructed (from time to time, the expression "Symbodies" creeps in, provoking the classmates’ critique) whose characteristics remind me of the theses of Pascal Boyer, and therewith of anthropology of religion: In his Catalogue of the Supernatural, he describes the range of options for the infringement of rules, which a deity must feature, to be credible through supernatural qualities (mentally represented).


The qualities of the SYMBUDDIES, meticulously described and closely democratically endowed, can be described as infractions of physical, biological or psychical ontological criteria, and thus as the deviation from anthropological sphere of characteristics (through invisibility, the capability of thought-reading, the change of form and shape etc.), which marks the transition to artistic creative freedom.


The absurdity or incredibility of features – in one of the attended groups the power of changing physical shape – is interestingly conceptually justified by naturalistic-reductionist reasons. Within the SYMBUDDY's DNA was all the according morphologic information enabling the creature.

Even though the acronym DNA remains obscure upon request, well-founded reports in genetics are being spontaneously held and heredity is sketched in outline, the group thus provides a link/differentiation in projective-conceptual respects of geno- and phenotype. The artwork is being experienced and animated! The demiurges play tabletennis during break.


(Boyer, Pascal (2000): Functional Origins of Religious Concepts: Ontological and Strategic Selection in Evolved Minds. In: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 6 (2), p. 195–214.)

Mödling, Monday March 20th 2023


11. Entry (Flora):

Hello! My name is Flora and I am part of the research group "die Fünf Elemente"! I actually didn't plan to speak about our symbuddy, but to say, what art means to me!

I think, art is an expression of emotions and of creativity. When I'm drawing, I'm in a different world and I'm totally relaxed. I'm often discontent with my drawings, but once I have drawn something really beautiful, then it feels like a sunbeam shining on to my face, when I'm looking at my drawing.

It is mostly interesting, what other people interpret into one's drawings. When I once had been drawing a hand, my dad told me, that to him, it's the hand of victory after something has been won. Somebody else said, my drawing was depicting a silent cry for help and someone was about to drown. Opinions are so differing but still genius. I respect every opinion and I am happy about every perspective. But don't be sad, if someone thinks your drawing is strange or ugly. Art can never be ugly, because to me, everything is art.

Some people are just jealous on your really great drawing and don't want to admit. I just want to say, that other opinions don't always count. Otherwhise, one could never do, what one likes to do. There will always be someone against.

Sometimes, I'm listening to music while drawing. That feels like being in a bubble full of music and within oneself. Maybe other people think that's strange, but that's totally ok. For me, it's varying. Sometimes, I want to draw in complete silence, sometimes not.

I will think about writing more entrys for our research diary in the future, but therefore I need to find a good subject.

Have a wonderful day

Mödling, Monday March 13th 2023


10. Entry (Nils):


My name is Nils Larsen and I am part of the research team named Team Star. Since a couple of weeks, we've been working on our Symbuddy. It began the day, when Michael Simku joined our lessons for the first time. Our team started to work on Niro. (That's the name of our Symbuddy). At first, we had to fill out a questionnaire about Niro– that is how we made up his story.


He has wings and in between his wing tips, there are webs whereby he can move quickly in water and in the air. A long time ago, he was living  on an asteroid. One day, the asteroid landed on earth. Niro was barely able to save himself by jumping off the asteroid and with full force flew up into the air. Ever since, he has been on earth. Niro has only been able to survive, because he can adapt very quickly to his surrounding. One can never see him, because he's out only at night and he's flying so fast, that one is not able to recognize him. Niro can converse telepathically with every other living creature.

Once we had finished making up his story, a part of us began making the PowerPoint and another part made sketches of Niro. We also drew a logo. During the next class, we were interviewed about Niro. Afterwards, we went to the craft room and recorded Niros voice.

All together was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to our next steps.


Mödling, Monday March 13th 2023


9. Entry (Sanja):

There weas trouble and argument within the symbuddy-project, although it's actually fun to create the Symbuddy and to describe it. Still, I hope, we're going to reconcile with each other.


Mödling, Monday March 13th, 2023


6. Entry (Simon):


Hello, I am Simon and I'm writing about our symbuddy Niro. He can do quite a lot. He can't talk, but he can communicate telepathically with other living creatures. Moreover, he can fly and he is very smart and very strong. But the most important thing is, that he can breath in outerspace, because he lives there in an asteroid. But it can happen, that the asteroid crashes into a planet, thus Niro has to survive there. That's very easy for him, because he can get used to his new vegetation so quickly. We have seen him for the first time, when he crashed into earth. That was in the time of the dinosaurs. Then, he withdrew inside his cave. His favourite dish is fish (he likes perches best). He is very fast, that's why he's not being seen very often, but my friends and me, we were lucky: We saw him eating fish at a fishshop. Then we became friends. Well, that's almost it. By the way, we use to see him when looking out of the window on Sundays at 5:55 and 55 seconds. You can try, too – I bet, it will work.


Vienna, Monday March 6th, 2023


5. Entry (Verena): On co-creation


In his first entry, Michael explained that the symbuddy-project was circling around (the possibility of) empathy and the potential of speculative symbiotic forms of life.


Our research team has already been working on these subjects: How can doing and being together work out prosperously? Not that simple.


It seems to me, the mostly applied methods cut down on two sides of the same coin:


Version 1:
Some researchers exchange insights and ideas. A conflict shows up.
Solution: The research-team breaks apart into groups, (seemingly) sharing consensual conceptions.
Problem: Insights and ideas won’t develop and there is quite some psychological stress for the castaways.


Version 2:
Some researchers exchange insights and ideas. A conflict shows up.
Solution: Endless negotiations and “voting”, until finally all ideas have been freed from distinctive edges and glitches and a total consensus is possible. Mostly, this cannot be achieved – and maybe that's good.


The challenge to stand in for and convey one’s own ideas, but also the challenge to tolerate their modulation and dare interlacing with other thoughts, seems to be one of the most important enterprises for the symbuddy-project now.


But looking at the first outcome I’d say our research team has quite successfully been facing these challenges.


Mödling, Friday March 3rd, 2023


Photo by HANANAS

Vienna, Friday March 3rd, 2023

5. Entry (Verena): Week 1 & 2


The symbuddy-project has now been on for two weeks. Michael Simku joined three groups twice – thus there have been 300 minutes of research in the scope of our project.


Naturally, we started by a round of introductions. Each research-partner introduced him*herself and his*her Totem – a previously drawn animal or plant-creature, chosen for its special skills. Thus, each group had to pay attention to each other for 50 minutes right in the beginning. Quite a challenge!


Subsequently, it became a bit easier: Small research-teams have been built, some only consisting of one child, some of up to eight children. Moreover, each team needs one non-human member, a symbuddy, merging all special characteristics and skills of the other team members, including their totems. As we don’t have such symbuddies available at school, we need to invent them.


Right after the formation of the teams, we went searching for symbuddy body parts at Museumspark.


The week after, Michael interviewed the teams about their symbuddies.


Mödling, Thursday March 2nd, 2023


4. Entry (Smart Cookie): Diary

Today, we (the Smart Cookies) have created our symbuddie and we have even been interviewed. That was really fun!

Now, we have to make a powerpoint-presentation, but it's not all functioning the way we'd like to have it. I hope, it will work better next week.

Vienna, Thursday March 2nd, 2023

3. Entry (Verena): On Names

We are in! Michael has been with us for two weeks now and a lot of symbuddies have been born.
But today’s notes for this diary actually refer to something rooted even before our official start.
Our infant research-team of course did not choose to take part in this project. The 83 kids must partake in my art’s classes and therewith accidentally in the symbuddy-project.
Becoming an artistic-research team, the random group of students has to turn into a unique constellation of individuals.
That’s why I look to it, that in any form of publication each child is being cited as author – not just by its first name (becoming just placeholder for “random student”), but by their full name.
Of course, legally I had to ask the parents for approval. But more important I asked the children themselves, how they would like to appear on our research catalogue exposition: With full name? Or rather just forename? Or even a pseudonym?
This is a tough question: after all, our researchers don’t know exactly, what is going to happen and if they even want to be identified.
Of course, decisions can change during the process.
Still, I have to admit that I was slightly irritated, as most of the kids did not go with their actual names, nor chose “artist’s names” as I would have expected. Their inventions rather seem like usernames related to gaming or social media.
Not really a surprise after all and I wonder, why this bothers me… maybe because those usernames seem exchangeable and individual identification rather superficial and short-lived. But maybe that isn’t true at all…
Anyway, I’m very curious to see, how names will change in the course of our project.

Vienna, Monday the 27th of February 2023

2. Entry: Enter player #2 Michael

My name is Michael Simku, I’m living and working as an artist and art mediator in Vienna. Together with a group of children and the artist and teacher Verena Miedl-Faißt I initiated „the symbuddy-project“. The driving force of our collective adventure is the idea of symbiosis between different forms of beings. As a vantage point we create characters that are hybrids part earth, part anthropogenic objects and part fantasy. Using them as a lens to create worlds full of imagined architectures and soundscapes informed by our planetary surroundings. An approach related to science and science-fiction at the same time, as some of our strategies are derived from collecting and observing and others from building fictitious worlds. I think to tackle the climate crisis or to create more balanced economies and conquering inequalities it is fundamental to become better world builders as a way to upgrade and rewire our brains with higher levels of empathy for fellow plants, fellow animals or fellow humans.

Therefore empathy is another major principle that fuels this project. Do our surroundings shape our movements, our thinking and our actions and how at the same time are we shaping these very structures in symbiotic sometimes toxic relationships? Can you teach that in school? We don’t know yet but approach this project with an open mind for adventure and with no predetermined outcome. Ignorant schoolmasters are maybe teaching less and exploring more…

Vienna, Sunday February 19th, 2023

1. Entry: Player #1 Verena

My name is Verena Miedl-Faißt. I am artist, friend, walk-thinker, think-talker, gap-dweller and since last autumn, art teacher at BG/BRG Keimgasse Mödling – a big grammar school in Lower Austria on the outskirts of Vienna.

Tomorrow, we’ll start something new. We called it “the symbuddy-project”. Until now, “we” consists of Michael Simku and me. But from tomorrow on, 95% of our research team will enter the ship – 83 children around 11 years.

Our plans are quite ambitious: We claim to make insights that will change the world. We claim to make research that is relevant. We claim that we will do something others should see and understand. Because if not, why should we do anything at all?

Last week I explained to the kids, what we are planning to do. I showed them the research catalogue. I told them about our plans to showcase knowledge that would normally never leave the classroom. I told them, why I think children are the right partners for our endeavor. I told them, that I don’t exactly know, what is going to happen – but that it is important that it will be happening exactly with and through each and everyone of them, not as a random child, but as an irreplaceable person.

Some of them seemed pleased, but yet none was daring to write a very first entry-in-advance for our Research Diary about what he or she was expecting or imagining.

So, what do I expect?

I expect this to become loud and intense. Not because children are loud and intense, but because being stuffed into a small classroom as a big group day after day and year after year must become loud and intense. In particular, if normal scholar reins are slackened for a long moment to enable the unexpected.

Despite that, I hope there will be moments of eloquent silence. Of joint weightlessness, held together through new threads of relation. Moments of wonder and care.

Then, we’ll have been successful.