The Outside Inside
The Outside Inside is a three-part installation which explores relationships between environments, the species that inhabit these, and technology. It emphasizes entanglement and challenges human exceptionalism.
The first part is a highly technologised indoor garden in which plants, lichen, and fungi with special terraforming abilities grow in microclimates which simulate possible environmental conditions of the year 2100. These species can cool soil, remove heavy metals, and absorb CO2 under extreme conditions, and could play a role in the mitigation of environmental crises. The activities of these species are measured by sensors and transformed into sounds which affect the human brain, switching the perceived power-relationships between human and non-human. The plants, lichen, and fungi act almost as a biological technology, shaping both the environments they grow in and the mental state of the audience that engages with the installation.
The second part is a video on a large scale projection behind the installation, which is impacted by the sensor data from the installation. In the video a drone searches for new habitats these species could conserve or transform. Intermittent animated sequences display the species potential growth and movements, taking cues from scientific research into plant intelligence and behavior.
The third part consists of a fridge containing edible flowers harvested from the installation. Due to being grown in higher CO2 levels, the nutrient content of the plants is changed. Through their ingestion, visitors can “ingest” a possible future that impacts their bodies on a molecular scale.
In collaboration with Sam Conran (sound and electronics) & Anna-Luise Lorenz (film)
Commissioned for the permanent collection of Futurium Museum Berlin
PART I – FORMING EARTH, FORMING BRAIN
Three potential future environmental conditions of the year 2100 are simulated in a total of 9 terraria. Plants, lichen, and fungi with special terraforming abilities grow within these micro-environments, transforming them in the process. The first set of terraria contain Amaranth plants which can grow and sequester CO2 in saline and dry conditions, removing a small amount of salt from the ground in the process. The second simulated environment is related to the thawing of arctic permafrost, and the idea of an insulating layer of reflective lichen to cool the soil that covers it, related to recent scientific research on vegetation-permafrost interactions. The third group of terraria contain oyster mushrooms,which have the ability to remove heavy metals and other contaminants from their environment, preparing it for other species.
In the installation, technology is not only used to simulate certain aspects of potential environmental futures and ecological interactions, but also to enable new connections and communications between humans and other species. The activities of the plants, lichen, and fungi and their microecologies are tracked using capacitance, CO2, methane, and VOC sensors. The data is processed by a custom computational system and turned into binaural frequencies, which induce a relaxed, meditative state in humans. Consisting of two different frequencies, one played to each ear, they cause the brain to create an auditory illusion: a third frequency that connects the two. Through this third frequency, the plants, lichen, and fungi are given control over the human brain of the listener. The sound installation creates an alienating effect through switching power relations, and challenging imagined boundaries, between human and non-human.
PART II – FUTURES WITHIN
Harvested from the interactive installation, edible amaranth flowers grown in possible future environmental conditions of the year 2100 are stored in a transparent display unit, for visitors to see and taste. By being exposed to elevated carbon dioxide levels and saline soil, the nutrient composition of these flowers is altered. Tasting the flowers allows visitors to ingest part of a possible future which directly affects their body on a molecular level.