Biomodd is an open-source, collaborative art project developed by biologist-turned-artist and NASA space researcher Angelo Vermeulen in 2007. So far, Biomodd teams in 20 cities around the globe have exhibited work that fuses modified computer systems and living biology in imaginative hybrid installations. The aim is to create meaningful symbiotic relationships that challenge presumed notions of opposition between nature and technology.
An experiment in plant communication
I initiated a Biomodd project in London in 2012 after a change meeting with Angelo in a bar in Vienna. Soon after Biomodd London was born as an experiment on plant intelligence, communication and sentience.
We addressed a range of themes such as e-waste, gaming, Permaculture, medicinal plants and alternative energy sources. The first of these experiments was presented at TedX London: City 2.0.
Biomodd [LDN5] Experiment I – How do plants communicate?
In this experiment we explored the sound frequencies and micro-voltages emitted by plants using recordings of plant sounds. We then visualized these sounds with a cymatics device, a process for making sound waves visible by vibrating a medium such as sand or water. We collated the emerging patterns to create a visual language that people can engage with.
In taking on the Biomodd project, we wanted to showcase how this striking conceptual feature – of growing living organisms around live electronics – could symbolize a paradigm shift essential to our re-imagining of a future city. This can be applied to any number of ecosystems and services such as food production, water retention, air-quality management and improved happiness indexes. Simultaneously it can help in relation to reducing carbon emissions and combating biodiversity-loss.
The experiment is a playful attempt at understanding the subtle ways in which plants communicate. Our aim is to stimulate thought and invite you all to an open discussion on how plants can help us grow the future of our cities.
Here’s a short video from the TedXLONDON: City 2.0 event
These images were captured at the TedX London City 2.0 event and our experiment on plant intelligence, communication and sentience held at the Siemens Crystal building in 2013.