Project Review : 1

Things feel fairly good at the moment.

There is a seedling growing in my studio. Its very basic at the moment – just a wooden box with a tube and plunger, and two pipes on either side connected by a tube. There’s a big tub of substrate waiting to go into the tube, and a prototype tower waiting to be built.

The missing piece is the squirt-head at the top which releases the substrate torus. It only needs to be two plumbing-joints and a small crank which plunges and cuts when enough material has been emitted. After this it waits for about 4 hours before repeating the process.

Each time a new layer is added the height increases by about 5 cm. Within 2 weeks greenery will be appearing. Once this goal has been achieved the project can move on to the finer details. Instead of a single upturned tube and plunger, the substrate is pumped to the tower by wifi-arduino-controlled rotating squeeze-bots which squeeze the substrate upwards like toothpaste from a tube. There is substrate of several colours and textures within this array of hollow roots spread out under the growing tower.

Ultimately the goal is for a moody machine-mind to produce a 3m tall tower up from the hollow root-tubes that lie on the ground. Each layer eventually cracks and flimsy green hairs burst out each day from the fissures. The process of germination takes a couple of weeks, and they continue growing for a couple of months.

The piece examines the paired-opposites:

  • Human Technology / Life
  • Patience / The need to cater for the immediate
  • Slick Uber-polished contemporary design / A tower of mud

And asks the questions:

  • What makes an idea an idea?
  • What is a robot? What is a machine? (..can a ‘puppet’ experience things?..)
  • Do people consider blades of grass to be living beings?
  • Can people be patient enough to connect with the artifact in real-time?
  • How will people react to it, interact with it, interpret it and remember it?
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