Alternate Realities is an exhibition that explores two future timelines: one where humans use technology to enhance plant life and one where technology replaces human contact for the sake of plant survival.
These two rooms stand in extreme antithesis to one another. In “1 Day,” human touch is completely absent - the only life forms present are the dying plants in the care of cold machines. In “New Beginnings”, we see a room full of life thanks to human care, dedication, and love. A walk through these alternate realities may beg the question: Are we destined to one-day watch plants slowly die off? Or is it still possible for us to create a new beginning in the year 2021?
The viewers enter into a dystopian type and a utopian type room. The “1 Day” room explores an untimely human intervention, where tech replaces human contact for the survival of the future of plant life. While the “New Beginnings” exhibition explores a timely human intervention, where tech and humans enhance the future of plant life.
In 2050, Earth’s rich plant life completely deteriorated after decades of relentless human ignorance and neglect; humans were left living in a desolate, dystopian wasteland. The largest drinkable sources of water became poisonous, monoculture obliterated soil health, acres of forest were brutally destroyed, and bees were wiped off the face of the planet. It was nearly impossible for plants to grow in the bitterly hostile soil. For humans to salvage the Earth, the only option was to imitate the nutrients necessary for plants’ survival with an AI automated vessel void of human contact that could protect, preserve, and revive the planet’s ecosystems.
The viewer is then greeted by a pod that is controlled by an AI with a single aloe plant inside, and security cameras facing all different directions of the room. Monitors are placed in different areas of the room to show the security footage, giving the feeling of distrust towards humans knowing that they are the ones who have caused plants to be in this extreme state of fragility that only may be interacted with the precision of robots and AI.
The pod is a last resort solution to keep any remaining plants on the planet from complete annihilation. It displays the process of revival, upkeep, plant information, and health of the plant inside waiting to be scanned. Once the plant is scanned, the pod will determine if it is fit for human consumption, or (at the very least) good enough to be pollinated by bees.
The plant arrives in the pod in an air-compressed shipping tube that is immediately sanitized. This represents the long journey that this fragile singular plant has gone through to seek treatment from the AI pod.
The plant is moved down by an AI robotic arm from the container, and injected with a nutrient-infused “cocktail” made specifically for each plant. This “cocktail” consists of different levels of calcium, sulfur, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, & nitrogen.
Here the plant is further grown and scanned to check for its final health score, whether or not it is fit for human consumption, fit for pollination, how many days it will live, and its final survival rate.
After viewing the room and seeing the reflection of the room in the mirror, the viewer will move through a dark hallway into the next room.
In consideration of this exhibition being about sustainability and biodiversity on plant life. We’ve taken into consideration the construction of the exhibition and minimizing our environmental impact when designing this project. Using recycled aluminum, reusable wall space, the grass is watered through drip irrigation minimizing water waste, the water is supplied by 6 water pumps taking water from water waste instead of freshwater supplies, and the mounds are all grown through organic coconut coir as the medium.
In 2050, our existence with plants evolved into a familial relationship based on care and respect. Botanical education and research nurtured a deep appreciation for plant life. Humans carefully crafted technology that uses sound frequencies to amplify plant growth, yield, bloom, and overall durability. With the help of this human ingenuity, plants flourished and the planet blossomed into a dense utopia where families could take walks through lush green fields and children could explore the breadth of Earth’s rich botany. The collective effort of the human race provided a brighter future for generations to come - a future where human lives and plant lives symbiotically thrive.
The viewer enters a completely different atmosphere; viewers walk through a lush green room covered in the grass on an illuminated concrete path that draws them deeper into the thriving environment.
As the viewer continues down the path, they are greeted by frequency boxes that use sound to amplify and enhance certain growth traits of plants.
In this specific frequency box, synthpop music is applied to promote growth for the common wheat species (which is growing inside the box). Using directional sound, the exterior speakers will play the same sound the plant is listening to so that the viewer can listen along as they read more about the species - including what genres of music enhance different plants.
The room also contains a green couch area where each section of the couch is made up of different types of grass species. The directional speakers above it help to also promote the growth, yield, and strength of each grass couch.
Here, the viewer may sit down in the grass room with a mirror wall and take in the entirety of the room; the feeling of “being one with nature” may sink them deeper into the grass. They might also take a moment to see the physical and audio effects that the sound has on the grass couches. We chose sound due to its emotional effects on both humans and plants, another way for us to be connected.
This shot showcases the warm glow from the illuminated grass path, gently guiding the viewer along the room, inviting them to have a sit down and have a chat with the other viewers in the exhibition.
I believe that humans can make and enhance plant life and biodiversity for other species for a far better future for every living thing on the planet. My hope for this exhibition is to encourage others to rethink their relationships with plants and reimagine how that plays into our daily lives - as well as to better connect and cherish plant life around us as we would our family, friends, and pets.