Anaïs Berck: una editorial algoliteraria
Anaïs Berck: una editorial algoliteraria

Anaïs Berck, An algoliterary publishing house

From 24 May till 12 June Anaïs Berck will be in residency in Medialab Prado. The residency consists of three parts, with different possible modalities of sharing, participation and collaboration.

During this residency Anaïs Berck proposes to explore the idea of a decolonial publishing house in which the authors will be algorithms, presented with their contexts and codes; and in which the content of the books will be defined by trees and nature. By putting trees and their representations at the center of their works, and by welcoming algorithms not at the service of extracting resources or value towards a commercial objective, but for making kin with nature, these intelligences create narratives which speak about trees and also challenge colonial views of classification, methods of standardization, and might speak critically about the effects of dominant cultures.

While it feels like a simple challenge to make a distinction between a tree and a shrub, formulating a common definition of a tree is still an ongoing discussion in biology ( Similarly converting seemingly well-defined real world concepts like a tree into digital models is riddled with challenges.

Anaïs Berck is an alias that exists since September 2019. The name stands for a collaboration between humans, algorithms and trees. As a collective Anais Berck opens up a space in which human intelligence is explored in the company of plant intelligence and artificial intelligence. For this project, Anaïs Berck is represented by the human beings An Mertens, Gijs de Heij ( and Loren Britton ( It is not clear yet which algorithms or trees will participate in this residency.

The residency is granted by the Vlaamse Overheid as part of their 'Digital Culture Residencies' program.


  • There are different types of workshops to participate of. The collaborators could join some or all of them, as they wish. When filling the form, please indicate the activities you are interested in.
  • Some sessions will be in Spanish, some will be in English. Please check each of them below.
  • Some sessions are scheduled IRL at Medialab-Prado, taking into consideration sanitary measures for all. Some other sessions will happen online. For online participation, please indicate in the registration form or drop a line at talleres [@] and we'll give you access to the platform.
  • The program is set for 15 participants.
  • Please address your inquiries about the workshops to talleres [@] under the subject "Residencia An Mertens".
  • Accessibility: Translation from English to Spanish and Spanish to English is possible. If you require closed captions please let us know and we will find a solution. For all other accessibility considerations please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


1. Thursday 27-5 & Friday 28-5 – 16h-20h

Creating algorithmic authors with Python

Presentation & workshop, 15 people

Language: Spanish

Mode: IRL

At: LAB1

Are you familiar with Python? Are you interested in texts and data on trees and nature? Would you like to learn with us what an algoliterary author could be? Then this workshop might be something for you.

The algoliterary publishing house will offer a collection of books generated by algorithms in infinite versions. The algorithms can be simple, like the Levenshtein Distance developed in the 1960s, or collective, like machine learning models. As the concept for this publishing house originates with Oulipo*, we also welcome Oulipian constraints as possible authors.

2.1. Monday 31-5 – 16h-20h

Html-to-print as a lay-out tool

Presentation & workshop, 15 people

Language: English

Mode: IRL

At: LAB1

Are you interested in making graphic design using algorithmic processes, in using code to produce a pdf? Do you have experience with html & css and/or the commandline and Python? Then this workshop might be something for you.

Gijs de Heij is a graphic designer and programmer. He is part of the collective Open Source Publishing, which has a long history in using html to produce printed objects. After a presentation of his practice and a concrete example of a book produced for the algoliterary publishing house, Gijs will lead a workshop on weasyprint, a tool and Python library that allows to ‘turn simple html pages into gorgeous pdfs’.

2.2. Saturday 5-6 17h-19h:

A prototype of an algoliterary publishing platform

Presentation & discussion

Language: English

Mode: IRL + online*

*drop a line at talleres [@] and we'll give you access to follow the session online.

At: LAB1

Anaïs Berck will present a first publishing platform with a series of books that were mainly generated during the first week of the residency. A lot of questions will have been raised, a lot of decisions will have been taken. Does reading lose its value when you can choose one million copies of a slightly different version of a book? Does each book need the capacity to exist in infinite variations? How can the organisation of books be presented in a fair inclusive way?

All participants to the previously organised workshops are warmly invited, as well as anyone with an interest for algorithmic and more than human publishing practices.

3.1. Tuesday 8/6 till Saturday 12/6, daily from 11h30 till 13h

A ‘decolonial’ publishing house?

Online reading sessions*

*drop a line at talleres [@] and we'll give you access to follow the session online.

Language: English

Mode: online

As Anaïs Berck represents a collective of humans, trees and algorithms, the algoliterary publishing house will function within this collective. This means that we will have to rethink all aspects of publishing in collaboration with all entities involved. This raises a series of questions. How can questions around ethics and ecology be thought alongside print or online publishing? What does consent mean when working with trees and more than humans? Is a digital book more “ecological” than a printed book?

Artists Loren Britton and An Mertens will compose a reader for the week. Each day we will read a fragment together and discuss possible scenarios. Ideas will be implemented in the ‘Oracle for consentful publishing infrastructures’ (more below).

3.2. Saturday 12/6 17h-19h

Oracle for consentful publishing infrastuctures

Presentation and game

Language: English

Mode: online*

*drop a line at talleres [@] and we'll give you access to follow the session online.

As a result of this third week of residency Loren Britton and An Mertens will present a hands-on card desk that allows us to collectively envision and share ideas for consentful publishing infrastructures. What kind of present with publishing can we imagine? How can less extraction be woven into an industry with an enormous ecoological impact? What kinds of questions do we need to be asking? How do you think consent with publishing all the way through? This oracle is inspired by the Oracle for Transfeminist Technologies, created by Coding Rights & MIT co-design studio.

After contextualizing our research and personal practices, we will present this Oracle and play with it together!


Final presentation. Friday 11/6 at 18h

Wrap up presentation showing the work-in-progress for an algoliterary publishing house developed during the residency in Medialab-Prado.

Language: Spanish and English (translation available)

Mode: IRL and streaming

At: Medialab-Prado's Auditorium

Type of call
Reception of proposals
A maximum number of
15 proposals