• gabriellehalpern

BIOMIM'BOOK: Nature is hybrid, so hybridize yourself!

Updated: May 5, 2021

Biomim'Expo is an annual event, imagined by NewCorp, which brings together experts and actors in biomimicry from all scientific disciplines and in all sectors of activity. This is the great meeting place for biomimicry and bio-inspired innovations.

In 2020, Gabrielle Halpern spoke there for the first time, during a Grand Angle interview. This interview gave birth to this column published in the Biomim 'Book.

Since Lavoisier, it is common knowledge that nothing is lost, nothing is created, and that everything is transformed! Anaxagoras had already said: "nothing is born or perishes, but already existing things combine, then separate again" ... For those who would not have understood it, Nature is not a midwife , nor an undertaker, she is a matchmaker! Whether it is invisible atoms or tangible matter, Nature spends its time combining and recombining. Yes, Nature is hybrid and we had totally forgotten it!

By being a hybrid, Nature reminds us that the boxes in which we love to put everything and those we come across are too rigid, not to say absurd. However, we like so much to stick labels on the courses, the trades, the situations, the organizations, the objects, the territories, the sciences, the beings that we meet, because these labels reassure us. And this is how, without realizing it, we ourselves build the silos that we are so quick to denounce afterwards!

Our good old rationality has, unfortunately, too accustomed us to identifying (that is to say: "giving an identity"), sorting and classifying and we have become accustomed to hating anything that would call into question this process of dealing with reality, namely everything that would be… hybrid. Hybrid is what is mixed up, contradictory, motley, and we've always struggled with that idea. In mythology, we have embodied this angst of the hybrid in the figure of the centaur; a violent, aggressive, unpredictable and threatening character… Depicted in this way, the centaur had everything to displease and, for centuries, we missed all that was hybrid around us.

But today, it is clear that the centaurs are coming back to the fore and that everything is hybridizing around us: hybridization of cities and countryside, hybridization of objects, hybridization of ways of living, hybridization of uses, hybridization of economies, hybridization of education, hybridization of organizational models, hybridization of cultures… These ubiquitous hybridizations are destabilizing, but rich in lessons. First, they teach us that we should keep creating new boxes instead of using old ones; it makes people smarter and more creative, more humble and less dogmatic. Then, that hybridization is neither the fusion, nor the juxtaposition, nor the annihilation of the other, but the metamorphosis of each one! On the other hand, that we should put an end to the terrible drive for homogeneity that is in us and that always brings us back to what and those we already know. Finally, that identity logics lead to nothing good except locking up others and locking oneself up.

Armed with these lessons, let's build retirement homes-youth hostels, sports halls-museums, shopping centers-theaters, stations-vegetable gardens! Let's hybridize researchers and start-ups, mix the arts, administrations, companies and associations! Let's get out of our identities that prevent us from speaking the same language! Nature is hybrid, let's hybridize!

Biomim 'BOOK, the first guide for actors and stakeholders in biomimicry and bio-inspiration, has been reissued for its 2021 vintage! To read it in full: