The previous chapter explored the possibilities of biosensing with plants. Partially, it reveals some methods for translating plant perceptions into electronic signals (e.g. “Pulsu(m) Plantae”). Movement and locomotion are always connected with perception [Ingensiep2001, page 303; Chamovitz2013, pp. 15]. The perception signal and the movement abilities of a living organism define how the movement will be performed. This interaction has an explosive power in philosophy. These two abilities (perception and movement) determine the differences between plants and animals. More or less, the latest scientific findings reveal that plants are able to perceive their environment and react on these circumstances [Chamovitz2013]. These results cast doubts on our philosophical classification of plants and animals. This topic has an enormous impact for our ethical consciousness. If we put plants and animals to an almost equal level, than we cannot destroy and treat plants like we used to do. It is important to have this background for understanding the ideas behind the listed artworks. Furthermore, I will focus on the locomotion capabilities of plants and less on their movement capabilities. The artistic expression related to movement and kinetic gestures were discussed in “3.1. Visualizing techniques with plants”.
After the analysis of “Visualizing techniques with plants”, we will explore interactions for human computer interaction (HCI) through plants. The objectives of this research are revealing technical approaches and which kind of interaction can be performed.
Interactions between humans and computer is usually implemented by sensors. In 2009 Dan Saffer defined a sensor for human computer interaction like this:
A sensor is typically an electrical or electronic component whose job is to detect changes in the environment [Saffer2009, page 13].
We are surrounded by plants and plants are able to sense changes in our environment. The increasing problem with our environment forces us to reconsider our usage of technology. Hybrid solutions between natural resources and our current technology is able to decrease our current environmental issues [ICC2007, pages 15-21]. For this reason, it is obvious to explore the plant abilities of sensing for HCI. The sensor belongs to the basic components of any gestural system, which is used in HCI applications [Saffer2009, page 13]. In our context we replace the common electronic sensor with a plant. An additional electronic circuit translates these bio signals into electronic computer-readable signals. Accordingly to this approach, the gestural system is completed again. Read more...
Nowadays information becomes more pervasive and crucial in a knowledge-based society [ZhaoMoere2008]. Therefore it is important for a society to develop an easy access to communicate meaning and functionality of information [MoereOffenhuber2009]. The easiest information access exists in our natural everyday physical environment. Public screens attempt to address this task. Unfortunately, current public screens hold several disadvantages for our public environment. They need a dedicated flat surface, illuminating their surrounded environments, and address only the visual sense. Furthermore, people often associate public screens with advertisement and pay less attention to them [MoereOffenhuber2009]. Therefore, it is rational to investigate information displays beyond the traditional screen-based visualizations. Plants are one of these objects, which are omnipresent in our daily physical environment. For this reason, data sculptures with plants might be an alternative approach to solve the problems of public screens and reach wide audiences. The following artworks are interpreted as the next development steps of the contemporary plant-based artworks from chapter 2.3 “Ethnobotany”. In this stage electronic and digital technology is applied to plants.
Within the scope of my research I will present a qualitative evaluation of visualizing techniques with plants. The evaluation model is based on the comparison methods developed by Andrew Vande Moere, Dietmar Offenhuber [MoereOffenhuber2009], and as well as Matthew Brehmer, and Tamara Munzner (2013) [BrehmerMunzer]. The evaluation result reveals their visual encoding techniques, and which characteristic of data they visualize. Furthermore, the outcome assigns approaches of creating more intriguing, and easy memorable visualizations. Read more...
After the introduction of botany, I will give an overview how plants are used for visualizing data, sensing interactions, enhancing communication between humans, and some other art oriented approaches. Each chapter references to a theoretical background and its practical implementations. The introduced projects have their origin in fine arts and in the research field of human computer interaction [Ross2007, SilentDialogue2008, Ars2010, HaLai2013, Ars2014]. Read more...
The term Ethnobotany consists of the two words “ethno” and “botany”. The word “ethno” is attributed to people, culture, aesthetic, language, knowledge, and practice. Botany describes the study of plants. The combination of these words, the scientific discipline Ethnobotany, investigates the relationships between humans and plants.
Since the beginning of humananity, the human-beings depended on botanical knowledge for surviving [Flagler1994, page 4]. Ethnobotany documents and characterizes this gathered knowledge of plants in various cultures. The research fields include documentations about food, medicine, construction, textiles, rituals, art and others. The comprehensive scope of research topics assigns Ethnobotany to a classical multi-disciplinary study. The interdisciplinary team of scientists must have knowledge in botany for identification of plant species, anthropologic knowledge for describing the cultural scope, and a linguistic training for transferring the local terms to the scientific community.
The beginning of the introduction mentioned the current ecological problems caused by humans. Some of these issues can be blamed directly on the inappropriate use of technology. The research on Human Plant Interfaces proposes interaction design solutions, which are more eco and human friendly. The exploration of these advantages is separated in the four parts design, urban development, production lifecycle, and social design.
During my research for my master thesis, I got some nice book recommendations about plants, nature, art and environment.
These books provide a good overview how plants are used in Fine Arts over the last 100 years. Furthermore, it addresses and describes the environmental impacts of these design and art approaches. Pretty useful for an art history overview.
- [Bartel2001] Bartelsheim, Sabine. Pflanzenkunstwerke: Lebende Pflanzen in der Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts. Schreiber, 2001
- [Nemitz2000] Nemitz, Barbara. trans plant. Living Vegetation in Contemporary Art. Hatje Cantz, 2000
- [KastnerWallis2010] Kastner, Jeffrey; Wallis, Brian. Land and Environmental Art. Phaidon Press, 2010
- [WiMaMe2010] Witzgall, Susanne; Matzner, Florian; Meder, Iris. (Re)Designing Nature - Aktuelle Positionen der Naturgestaltung in Kunst und Landschaftsarchitektur. Hatje Cantz, 2010
- [Haeusler2015] Häusler, Minh. The Fusion of Flora and Art. Hirmer, 2015
- [Ost2015] Ost, Daniel. Der Meister der Blumenkunst. Elisabeth Sandmann Verlag, 2015
- [Wagener] Wagener, Klaus. Architektur und Pflanze: Interior design with plants. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, 2012
- Phaidon editors (2016). Plant: Exploring the Botanical World. Phaidon, 2016.
My old blog post about visualizing data with plants was a summary of related artworks. But for my master thesis, I had to apply a theoretical analysis method. The result is supposed to be a more (scientific) valuable evaluation of visualization techniques with plants. Here is the first version of it.
Nowadays information becomes more pervasive and crucial in a knowledge-based society . Therefore it is important for a society to develop an easy access to communicate meaning and functionality of information . The easiest information access exists in our natural everyday physical environment. Public Screens attempt to address this task. Unfortunately, current public screens hold several disadvantages for our public environment. They need a dedicated flat surface, illuminating their surrounded environments, and address only the visual sense. Furthermore, people often associate public screens with advertisement and pay less attention to them . Therefore, it is rational to investigate information displays beyond the traditional screen-based visualizations. Plants are one of these objects, which are omnipresent in our daily physical environment. For this reason, data sculptures with plants might be an alternative approach to solve the problems of public screens and reach wide audiences. Read more...
The previous chapter "Can plants be music instruments" explored the possibilities of Biosensing with plants. Partially, it reveals some approaches how to translate plant perceptions into electronic signals (e.g. Pulsum Plantae). Movement and locomotion are always connected with perception [Ingensiep2001, p.303; Chamovitz2013, pp. 15] . The perception signal and the movement abilities of a living organism define how the movement will be performed. This interaction has an explosive power in philosophy. Read more...
On my last blog post "Can plants be a music interface" I explored plants as a possible input channel for musical devices. This time, I want to explore plants as a kind of display. Especially, how artists, designers, and engineers can communicate their data and stories through plants. More than a few plant based narrative approaches exist in our culture. They are mostly connected with old traditions and rituals. For instance, the Christmas tree or the Harvest festival (picture) are very common rituals for us. In this article I strongly focus on (Fine) Arts and Design approaches than on ritual driven expressions. The first part is more Fine Art and analog (without technology) oriented and the second part focuses on Design approaches with the support of Technology.
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