MetaGarden Sphere3
Installation by Tanja Vujinović (3D printed objects, custom-made electronics, custom-made software, digital environment)
Production: Ultramono, 2019-ongoing

Sphere3 is both a virtual space and a physical installation populated by machine-beings, futuristic medical devices that take care of the environment and humans. Inspired by scientific facts, art history and mythology, Sphere3 belongs to the ecosystem of the MetaGarden.
MetaGarden is an ongoing meta-project about the habitats of the future. It is usually realized as both physical installation and computer simulation.
Sphere3 is explores the paragenesis of molecular machines and ways they might affect us. Some objects seem as if they came from the future while others appear like emanations of by-gone gods of medicine joined with ancestral plants. These sentient objects sense changes in the environment and hold the potential of regeneration.
Inspiration for the placement of objects within the virtual platform stems from an approximately 2000 year-old Palm Tree game, while some of the objects are inspired by mythology and facts related to plants in art history, ethnobotany and paleobotany.
Working along the lines of an ongoing move in engineering where we switch from machines towards the materials inspired by biomimicry, complete with inbuilt functions, within the installation the objects are informed by nano-machines, computing bots and biologically relevant shapes. Inspiration comes from both form and function of human organs, plants, viruses and ribosomes.
The idea of programmable matter has been present for the last several decades. From smart dust, neural dust and claytronics to utility fog, ubiquitous computing ranges from smaller devices to molecular ones. Is our future heading in directions of such devices becoming omnipresent? Imagining the world of such fully developed synthetic organisms, this installation brings forth several potential modes of operation. One type of bot might form a smart swarm that traps the particles passing through human air passageways and discards them, enabling easier and healthier breathing. Other micro-bots might clean the blood stream, while another shaped like a ribosome might repair DNA damage. Meanwhile, an outer ring of “protector” objects balances the space through sound.  
Within “Engines of Creation”, K. Eric Drexler talks about the future where our lives will be unimaginable without nanomachines. Once our technological development approaches a widespread ability to influence matter at the atomic level and to engineer self-assembling and self generating atomic machines, we will be able to solve many of the contemporary problems related to ecology and health. Merging not only material science, artificial intelligence, particle physics, biotechnologies and medicine, but spanning these new paradigms of intervening into matter and building with and programming with the matter itself across the majority of engineering disciplines, we might enter into a world quite different from the one we live in today. As Drexler said, we can use the terms "nanotechnology" and "molecular technology" interchangeably to describe the new form of technology, one where the engineers build both nanocircuits and nanomachines.Within the field of medicine, nanomachines will not only repair our bodies by restoring disordered atoms to working order, but they will also aid healing, and will likely be thousands of times faster than electronic microcomputers. The installation also echoes John Storrs Hall’s hypothesis of Utility fog as a collection of tiny robots that could become a universal physical substance, as well as related ideas of self-assembly and self-reconfiguring modular robotics.Swarm intelligence systems of the future might be omnipresent from the macro to nano scale. They might easily blend into the natural world, which itself is a complex organism that adapts to new circumstances. From Claytronics to Smart Dust, to more general ideas of programmable matter and synthetic biology, we are trying to envision and engineer smarter devices with ubiquitous computing powers and possibilities of self-assembly. From robot swarms to molecular cells programmed to function independently, such units might function in synergy with the natural world and thus blur boundaries between synthetic and natural.

K. Eric Drexler, Engines of Creation, The coming era of nanotechnology, 1986.
K. Eric Drexler, Radical Abundance How a Revolution in nanotechnology will change civilization, Public Affairs, New York, 2013.
John Storrs Hall, "Utility Fog: A Universal Physical Substance," in Vision-21: Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering in the Era of Cyberspace, G. A. Landis, ed., NASA Publication CP-10129, pp. 115-126 (1993)
Corneli, Joseph, and Ewen Maclean. 2015. “The Search for Computational Intelligence.” In Social Aspects of Cognition and Computing Symposium. Canterbury, UK: University of Kent.
Cassirer, Ernst. 1955. The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms Volume Two: Mythical Thought. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Evans Schultes, Richard. 1976. Hallucinogenic Plants. Golden Press.
T. Furst, Peter. 1976. Hallucinogens and Culture. Chandler & Sharp Publishers.
Luisi, Pier Luigi. The Emergence of Life from Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology. New York: Cambridge University Press.