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At the H.O.R.T.U.S. installation by ecoLogicStudio, QR codes enable visitors with a smart phone to access a page of information.

At the H.O.R.T.U.S. installation by ecoLogicStudio, QR codes enable visitors with a smart phone to access a page of information about the algae they foster. Photo: Sue Barr

Algae as an Art Feedstock

October 11, 2012

The Huffington Post’s Madeline Schwartzman reports on the growing trend of algae becoming an artist feedstock, in addition to it’s many wondrous practical applications. The organism is now making its way into art installations around the world, including H.O.R.T.U.S. an installation by ecoLogicStudio exhibited at the Architectural Association in February 2012.

H.O.R.T.U.S. is a prototype for a new form of urban gardening. 325 bags of algae intermingled with bioluminescent bacteria, were hung from the ceiling of the AA Front Members Room, allowing visitors to interact physically, via breath, and virtually, via smart phones. Both the real and emergent virtual garden were nourished by human interaction, the former by releasing CO2 into the system and furthering the production of the oxygen that fed the bacteria, and the latter by creating local and global data streams.

September was a breakout month for algae in art. At the Maker Faire New York at the Queens Museum of Science, scientist turned artist Angelo Vermeulen and a team of collaborators exhibited Biomodd [NYC4], the latest version of a gangly laboratory-like installation that brings computers and organic matter, algae and people, into a close-knit system.

Algae Opera recently premiered at the London 2012 Design Festival at the V&A Museum, developed by a future-thinking collective made up of designers Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta, both Royal College of Art graduates who received an MA in Design Interactions. Burton grew up on a working farm and used that experience to speculate on the future of farming, including farming on the human body itself – speculating on the future of humans and our impending unavoidable, and hopefully mutually beneficial interactions with bacteria, algae and biological systems.

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