GENERA

GENERA

Installation (3D printing, custom-made electronics, hardware) 

Installation by Tanja Vujinovic
Hardware device development: Dr. Luka Suhadolnik, Department for Nanostructured Materials, Jozef Stefan Institute
Additional hardware: Roman Bevc
3D printing: Stephan Doepner, C2
Advisors:
Prof. Dr. Saša Novak, Department for Nanostructured Materials, Jozef Stefan Institute
Electron Microscopy analysis: Maja Koblar, Center for Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis (CEMM), Jozef Stefan Institute
Additional consulting: Jan Kušej, Lenart Krajnc
English language editing: Derek Snyder
Production: Ultramono, 2019 

Placed within the MetaGarden Sphere2, Genera is one of the objects that takes care of our health and the health of our environments.

Genera is a model futuristic device for the purification of indoor air. Its shape comprises generic branches converging into a trunk-base, and the air passing through them is drawn through an air purification device located at the base of the object. The air purification device uses photocatalytic technology, which represents a potential system for removal of pollutants from indoor air. Improved air quality would improve quality of life, as the average individual spends most of her life in confined spaces. The photocatalytic air purification device uses the principles of photocatalytic degradation of organic compounds, bacteria, and other potentially harmful substances. Contaminants are decomposed on the surface of titania nanotubes (the active photocatalyst is activated by UVA light illumination), which are grown directly on titanium substrate using an electrochemical method. Photocatalytic oxidation can play a crucial role in indoor air treatment, as it represents an efficient and cost-effective green technology. In future MetaGardens we could have such branch-shaped devices that maintain safe levels of pathogens in the air.

 

References

Pichat, P. A brief survey of the practicality of using photocatalysis to purify the ambient air (indoors or outdoors) or air effluents. Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 2019, 245, 770-776.

Macak, J. M.; Tsuchiya, H.; Ghicov, A.; Yasuda, K.; Hahn, R.; Bauer, S.; Schmuki, P. TiO2 nanotubes: Self-organized electrochemical formation, properties and applications. Current Opinion in Solid State and Materials Science 2007, 11 (1), 3-18.

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MetaGarden Sphere2

A garden "is never a garden of merely private concerns into which one escapes from the real; it is that plot of soil on the earth, within the self, or amid the social collective, where the cultural, ethical, and civic virtues that save reality from its own worst impulses are cultivated. Those virtues are always ours."

Robert Pogue Harrison

What will our future gardens, the gardens of the third millennium, look like?
Will they be made of objects, machines, and living beings that synergistically maintain their flexible systems and communicate with their surroundings?
MetaGarden is an ongoing project that reflects upon a complex relationship of humanity and its technologically fortified environment of nature-culture, and focuses on a particular issue within each installation.
Through MetaGarden Sphere2, I attempt to examine not only what exists within our lives, but also what multiple possibilities and changes might emerge in biopolitical, social, and environmental domains. 
Throughout history, the garden as a sheltered environment has been re-emerging as a special location for human contact with nature, recreation, and rethinking of mythologies, social relations, and allegories. 
Gardens have never held unitary functions or forms. Filled with idealised flora and fauna or devised as minimalistic environments, gardens would sometimes induce ecstatic feelings or provoke meditative immersions and reflections. The classical Greek Epicurean school promoted understanding of the world through the tending of gardens and, instead of overcoming, it was all about transfiguring nature and self-cultivation. Epicurus viewed gardens as places in which reality could be reconceived and reimagined. 
Michel Foucault thought of gardens as the perfect heterotopias – the other places, detached from ordinary life. Within gardens, we immerse ourselves in relationships with living and non-living objects or non-human agents, and seek in them the forms of transitional, comfort objects. Gardens infuse us with molecules and affect our senses, but we also infuse gardens with our states of mind and impose forms onto nature. Gardens echo our lost contact with nature brought forth by the rapid development of industry and technology. They are associated with regeneration of human beings, our reconnection with nature, and the notion of care and cultivation of both ourselves and our nature-culture environments. 
Since the very beginnings of civilisation on Earth, humans have turned to plants for food, shelter, and medication. Recreation in nature has always been advised in the form of walks(1), meditation, observation of plants, breathing of the healing air in the woods, and tuning in to the countless signals and chemical communication channels of the surroundings. Gardens might be seen as networks of engineered man-made and natural elements that promote the flow among non-human and human agents.
Jean Luc Nancy's concept of synaestetic touch that underlines the necessity to pay special attention to senses other than vision, like touching and smelling, might pave the way for cultivating a novel attitude towards nature in the post-digital world. 
Gardens might also be microcosms that temporarily separate a person from the rest of the anthropocentric world and enfold one into their special texture. As Michel Foucault would say, “the garden is the smallest parcel of the world and then it is the totality of the world.” (2)
What might our future habitats look like? Are we going to seal ourselves off from the atmosphere due to pollution and live in chambers that look like an Apple parking building or Amazon Spheres? If so, who will be able to afford the type of hi-tech water, air purification, and maintenance of plant growth inside the future farming facilities? Such future chambers may enable us to experience the world of “wilderness” to its fullest in a tamed form, devoid of any danger, disorientation, darkness, and of anything uncontrolled. Aquaponic gardens for industrial production of plants operated entirely by robotic agents offer a glimpse into a potential future scenario. 
Utopian ideas have occasionally sprung up of an idyllic garden spreading around the whole Earth, like the one envisioned by futurist Jacques Fresco with his Venus project. We might be very far from such a scenario, but we could at least work towards curbing environmental pollution and providing everybody with access to clean natural environments. A potential way towards the MetaGardens of the future is co-creation with nature and the engineering of upcoming civilisation informed by bionics and biomimicry. Biomimicry, the term coined by Janine Benyus in the 1990s, is the outlook that strives not to extract from nature and domesticate it, but to create solutions learned from the ideas that appear everywhere in the natural world. As Benyus writes, some of the core principles of nature are that it runs on sunlight, uses only the energy it needs, fits form to function, recycles everything, and rewards cooperation. These principles, i.e. functions of nature, should be embedded in the materials of future design – from apparatuses to buildings and infrastructure.

MetaGarden Sphere2 is an ecosystem inhabited by futuristic machines as ur-forms that take care of humans and our environments. These objects, synthetic being-devices, are inspired by paleobotany and artificial intelligence technologies, plasma physics and nano-structured materials. Through the virtual world and physical installations, I explore the twists between synthetic and natural. The works tie past with future and merge concrete elements from science and history with mythology. As the title suggests, I also draw inspiration from numerous metaphors rooted in gardens and their essential components. The works that comprise Sphere2 are Carboflora, Fontana, Genera, and Arbora. Carboflora is an endless virtual simulation, within which virtual flora grows according to measured readings of air pollutant levels. Fontana cleans water by employing plasma, while a little fountain disperses the plasma treated water into the air. Genera cleans the air by channeling it into an assortment of nanotubes. Arbora analyses emotional states through voice and responds by generating binaural sound.

1) “We should take wandering outdoor walks, so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed by the open air and deep breathing.” Seneca, XVII.
2) Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces.” Diacritics, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986.

References:

Foucault, Michel. “Of Other Spaces.” Diacritics, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986.

Nancy, Jean-Luc. The Sense of the World. University of Minnesota Press, 1997.

Lowenhaupt Tsing, Anna. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton University Press, 2015.

Pogue Harrison, Robert. Gardens, An Essay on the Human Condition. The University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Ponting, Klajv. Ekološka Istorija Sveta Životna Sredina i Propast Velikih Civilizacija. Odiseja, 2009.

Leslie, Esther. Synthetic Worlds Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry. Reaktion Books, 2005.

Haraway, Donna J. Staying with the Trouble Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press, 2016.

Benyus, Janine M. Biomimicry Innovation Inspired by Nature. HarperCollins, 1997.

L. Annaeus Seneca, Minor Dialogs Together with the Dialog "On Clemency"; Of Peace of Mind; Translated by Aubrey Stewart, pp. 250-287. Bohn's Classical Library Edition; London, George Bell and Sons, 1900.

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OPEN TEXT IN ENGLISH (PDF):: 
DESCRIPTION OF THE WHOLE PROJECT METAGARDEN SPHERE2 :: 

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ODPRI BESEDILO V SLOVENŠČINI (PDF) :: 
OPIS CELOTNEGA PROJEKTA METAVRT SFERA2 :: 

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