July 11, 2007
Philip Ross, nature networks

Philip Ross was one of the artists featured in Rhizome’s Networked Nature exhibition earlier this year. His work consists of designed and constructed controlled environmental spaces which:

nurture, transform, and refine a variety of sculptural artifacts much as one might train the growth of a Bonsai tree.

Two works which look particularly spectacular on his website and employ ideas of networks are Junior Return and Jarred In.

Junior Return

Junior Return (image above) is:

a self-contained survival capsule for one living plant. Four blown glass enclosures provide a controlled hydroponic environment; one holds the plant, another the water reservoir for the plant, the third holds the electronics and pump that control the plant’s resources, and the last for the rechargeable battery that gives the energy required to keep the plant alive in this container. An air pump goes off for a few seconds every minute, supplying air to the plant and to the water reservoir. A digital timer counts down from sixty to zero, displaying the time left until the pump will activate. Then, with little notice, a few bubbles appear in the water, the only indication that anything is actually going on.

The latest ‘version’ of Junior Return is titled Clone Army which consists of ighteen of the small hydroponic units networked together in different formations.

Jarred In

Jarred In (image above) is a sixteen feet tall and twelve feet wide hanging garden installation.

In this garden pairs of plants are housed in life support pods suspended from a chandelier like armature. The roots of the plants swim in illuminated, water filled boxes. Water is pumped up from tall Plexiglas reservoirs resting on the ground. The reservoirs are attached to a central pod on the ground, referred to by the folks at The Exploratorium as “the mother ship” and housing six Dwarf Impatiens. Cushioned settees, covered with a Victorian floral print fabric and sealed in clear vinyl surround this floor pod.

These autonomous growing containers are modeled on the techniques and aesthetics of the Wardian Cases that were used to transport living plants from one continent to another during the 18th and 19th centuries. They are effectively isolated from the environment of The Exploratorium, requiring a great dedication of electricity and materials to remain healthy. I also wanted them to look like the swarm of alien ships that appear at the end of Close Encounters of The Third Kind.

Related work includes: Life Support Systems – Vanda, Pieces for Plants, Telegarden and Bion.

Inspired by a post seen at Bit Babble.

    Posted by: Garrett @ 4:27 pm

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