Forms of Intelligence

What Is It?

The Forms of Intelligence cards are designed to act as conversation starters and inspirational prompts for anyone involved in a making process.

How often do you challenge yourself to stop and think differently, to see from a different perspective, or think deeply about who or what is being impacted by your decisions?

The cards draw on different forms of animal, plant and microbial intelligences that often get overlooked in human-led projects and processes. They also invite you to reflect on the humans who are connected to these organisms – whether directly by working with them, or indirectly by sharing land and resources with them.

These cards are for anyone who would like to open their minds to think more expansively about all living beings. They were inspired by tarot and Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategy cards, as well as other types of card games and creative inspiration techniques.


The Forms of Intelligence cards and booklet were made by artist and researcher Kaajal Modi,   commissioned by Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) as    part of the Forms of Intelligence project. KWMC is an arts organisation and charity that supports people to make positive changes in their lives and communities by using the power of digital technology and the arts.

The Forms of Intelligence cards were    inspired by a series of collaborative workshops between eight people from Knowle West, Bristol, Kent, and Colombia with expertise in different forms of animal and plant intelligence. These people ranged in age from 18-80 and included community activists, artists, and researchers with specialisms in: trees, fungi, insects, local wildlife, soil, coral, gardening, dogs, birds, robotics, wearables, performance and visual arts.

The group came together on the project to share knowledge, create principles for collaborating well across species, and to begin exploring what could be made that would benefit humans, animals, plants and environments in more connected ways.

How To Use

Use these cards when you are stuck on a problem or needing a new perspective. Whatever you are making or working on, you might benefit from the perspective of a non-human being, or from a different worldview to the one you currently inhabit.

The cards could be interpreted literally or used as inspiration to try something different or as a conversation starter. Some of the cards are provocation statements, some are questions and others have two inverse statements on one card – to be read either way up.

There is no wrong way to use the cards. Here are a few suggestions to try:

  • Shuffle the pack, pick a card at random and consider it in isolation
  • Connect the visual sides of the cards to create fantastical creatures and plants – then flip them over and see the combination of statements that appears
  • Draw different types of cards (provocation, inverse, question) and consider them side by side

The numbers on the cards point to footnotes in the booklet which give context to the text on the card. On some cards you will find the names of plants, animals and organisms in [ square brackets ]. These are an invitation to replace this with another word to help you think differently.

When To Use

The Forms of Intelligence cards could provide useful prompts at the start of the ‘Designing’ phase of the Bristol Approach, to make sure that you’re considering your impact on the environment.

Explore Further

As part of the project, KWMC also created a series of podcast interviews with people from Knowle West, Bristol, Berlin, Kent, and Colombia. Knowle West resident and digital intern Tatiana Powell made the podcasts, recording them remotely through lockdown, supported by KWMC producer Lewis Campbell.

Enter your keyword