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Antennae Magazine # 52


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Interview by Dawn Sanders

http://www.antennae.org.uk/

Nature is a concept we have shaped over millennia of images, texts, compositions, constructions, garments, and performances. The trees, the rocks, the air, and the water simply are. They don’t care about us, our desires, spirituality, pasts, and even futures. Nature is in our heads. It is a concept inescapably defined by our histories, our desires, our spirituality, our pasts, and even our futures. It is therefore not a surprise that encountering plants always entails a process of negotiation between one’s own cultural background, race, gender, beliefs, and values. Our coming to terms with the vegetal world is always inescapably mediated by tools or contexts, even when we claim to be objective.


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Tracy Metz on Hyper Rhizome at Droog Gallery Amsterdam

https://www.tracymetz.nl/2020/02/05/diana-scherer-maakt-kunstwerken-van-levend-textiel/

Exhibition 18 February – 15 March


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PLANTS PEOPLE PLANET


Weaving roots at the interface between art, fashion and science

https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ppp3.48


“Digital biofabrication to realize the potentials of plant roots for product design”

Happy  to share the research article about our plantroot-material research with TU Delft https://doi.org/10.1007/s42242-020-00088-2


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Wired Magazine


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Artist Teaches Roots To Grow In Beautiful, Alien Patterns

THE HUMAN RACE has a long history of bending nature to its will. The results of this relationship can be devastating—but they can also be strikingly beautiful, as German artist Diana Scherer skillfully proves with her low-relief sculptures made from plant roots. Scherer grows these works of art by planting oat and wheat seeds in soil, and then carefully, meticulously, warping the growth pattern. She prefers to train her roots into geometric patterns found in nature, like honeycomb structures, or foliate designs reminiscent of Middle Eastern arabesques.

But even with that botanical theme, applied to a botanical substance, Scherer’s pieces look distinctly alien—like the plant equivalent of women who’ve trained their waists with corsets, or feet with foot binding. “I think that people, they cherish nature, but on the other hand they are really quite cruel with nature,” Scherer says. “Like the gardener is telling us he loves nature, but the garden has to look like what he wants it to in his mind. He has to crop and prune and use poison.” Scherer makes no claims to a nobler process. Her artistic impulse, she says, is to control the roots in her pieces. “The roots that I domesticate, they have to do what I tell them.”

Scherer started contemplating what she calls root system domestication in 2012, during work on a series called “Nurture Studies.” She created those pieces by potting flowers in vases, allowing the soil and roots to congeal in place, and then breaking the vases. The root patterns were frozen in place and totally exposed, and Scherer says she became fascinated by the vast differences in growth patterns, colors, textures, and thicknesses. It reminded her of yarn, and, because she’s an artist, she immediately wondered if she could weave roots underground.

Scherer won’t say much about the technique she’s developed in the years since, other than it involves a “template,” which functions like a mold. Since late 2014 she’s worked with biologists and ecologists at Radboud University in Nijmegen, in The Netherlands, learning more about which types of roots grow fast and train easily (oats and wheats) and which ones grow slowly and with less structural conviction (daisies). This year, Scherer won the New Material Award from Het Nieuwe Instituut for the arts, in Rotterdam, for her textile-like pieces. With the help of the scientists at Radboud, she’s working on strengthening the designs even further and researching its market potential (hence the secrecy.)

For now, Scherer is in a stage of rapid experimentation. By adjusting the density of seeds or planting a new strain of grass, she can produce wildly different textures. The work is, by definition ephemeral—Scherer says she gets each piece for about two weeks before it starts to dehydrate and shrivel. But even with that lifespan, her bounty is significant. “I’m growing out of my studio,” Scherer says. Which feels kind of poetic. Even when you’re taming nature, it finds ways to take over.

https://www.wired.com/2016/12/artist-teaches-roots-grow-beautiful-alien-patterns/ 

 


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Interview with Caroline Roux about growing a dress from plant roots, which features in the Victoria & Albert Museum ‘Fashionioned from Nature’ exhibition.


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Rootkit


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http://www.bldgblog.com/

The work of German-born artist Diana Scherer explores what she calls “the dynamics of belowground plant parts.” She uses plant roots themselves as a medium for creating patterns and networks, the purpose of which is to suggest overlaps between human technological activity and the embodied “intelligence” of living botanical matter. “This buried matter is still a wondrous land,” she writes. The results are incredible. They feature roots woven like carpets or textiles, imitating Gothic ornament with floral patterns and computational arabesques underground. Compare Scherer’s work, for example, to traditional Gothic plant ornament—that is, geometric shapes meant to imitate the movements and behaviors of plants—but here actually achieved with plants themselves. Scherer calls this “root system domestication,” where, on the flipside of an otherwise perfectly “natural” landscape, such as an expanse of lawn grass, wonderfully artificial, technical patterns can be achieved. The idea that we could grow biological circuits and living rootkits is incredible, as if, someday, electronic design and gardening will—wonderfully and surreally—converge. You simply step into your backyard, exhume some root matter as if harvesting potatoes, and whole new circuits and electrical networks are yours to install elsewhere. After all, the soil is already alive with electricity, and plants are, in effect, computer networks in waiting. Scherer’s work simply takes those observations to their next logical step, you might argue, using plants themselves as an intelligent form-finding technology with implications for the organic hardware of tomorrow.