Electric Pollination

Teun Verkerk

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  • Summary

    As a black future scenario the project is a tribute to the phenomenon of crop pollination. Beautiful and apocalyptic at the same time, human labor with ubiquitous interactive technology has replaced a vital natural system that has rapidly disintegrated.

    Full description of the concept

    Electric Pollination is a tribute to the splendor of nature. It reflects the phenomenon of crop pollination through human interaction with technology. Due to the decline in bee populations this process is slowly coming to a halt. This vital part in the cycle of our crops - or rather its absence in the fields - is not very visible in cities but has a direct impact on our food supply. Besides raising awareness of this issue the installation is also an attempt to create landscapes of the anthropocene, where nature and technology merge beautifully into a dynamic living environment reminding us of both the beauty of nature as well as the ingenuity in technology.

    A field of glowing flowers in various shades of two matching colors extends across the view. Visitors can be seen wandering in between the flowers to capture the colors of the flowers with their mobile phones. When looking closer the flower’s petals seem to glow in slightly different shades and brightnesses, giving the light flower a vivid expression. While all flowers seem similar, all are created unique and show small variations to emphasise nature its diversity. With a smart phone or digital camera, visitors can take ones flowers color to the next, by doing so, the flower field slowly begins to change colors.
    While moving from one flower to another in an attempt to pollinate the field, people themselves become part of the artwork by taking over the vital task of our prime pollinator; the bees. In this way technology is used to create a playful and aesthetic experience to involve spectators in a story that addresses this vital issue.

    Electric Pollination shows a beautiful yet unwanted future scenario. While most digital or electronic nature and hybrid forms of nature and technology might be an interesting and desirable future scenario, Electric Pollination is disaster turned into beautiful nightmare vision. Through the beauty of the project, the artist wants to raise awareness of the alarming situation of insect - specifically pollinating - decline.

    The installation consists of custom and stock SMD electronics in a custom designed enclosure with at least IP65 water resistance. The individual flowers are linked to a camouflaged substructure that is light and anchored securing the installation in place while requiring minimal intervention in the soil. The flowers are equipped with microcontrollers, electronics and sensors* that allows them to sense nearby colors and change and emit colored lights. A custom design based on widely available hobby electronics (arduino clones / ESP8266 etc) equipped with either many cheap color-sensors or a dozen industrial grade color detection systems will allow the copying of colors. When no visitors are actively pollinating the field an ‘idle-algorithm’ will create an interesting spectacle of slowly changing colors without the well-known rainbow- effect. The shapes of the flowers are made using digital fabrication methods like 3d printing and lasercutting that allow for mass customization techniques that create rich appealing geometries instead of uniformity.

    About the group/Artist

    Teun Verkerk (1983) explores possibilities to animate, augment or activate objects or spaces to allow new forms of interaction, play and display of information to happen in otherwise static environments. Recurring themes in his projects are the unexpected encounter (in public spaces) and the creation of electronic lifeforms exhibiting properties and behaviour of their real-life counterparts.

    Based in both interaction design and architecture, his work crosses the gap between the physical and virtual through the creation of physical objects and environments mediated by digital, interactive and electronic technologies. The projects can be regarded as (re)combinations of objects, technologies and space that lead to new ways of use, forms of communication or information. The aims of his projects are to shift the perception of reality, create engaging interactions with the physical environment and to facilitate social encounters between persons.

    In the past he made works like Buqs (www.buqs.eu) and ledwork,org

    Budget overview

    FINANCIAL OUTLINE (*please note this was taken from a sample budget. Installation is modular and flexible in scale)
    •Design, development, assembly & artist fee €4000 / SEK40000
    •Materials & development of very simple Android & iPhone app* + extra personnel / labor + volunteers €2000 SEK20000

    How can other drones co-create with you?

    Yes! The design (physical), electronics, software and up till some point concept could be in a way opensource. I'm open for collaborations.

    What is this?

    Congratulations! You've stumbled upon something special. This Drone Visions is where drones dreams together.


    • Do you need electricity? The flowers can run on a battery system for several days, but can also be powered. This can be changed in the design due to demands. Preferably solar powered on a small battery.

    • Will there be light? Yes. The project would be best in dimly lit areas, but the intention is to also be working during daylight situations. It's also beautiful during daytime. The project uses light in many different ways. Light to draw visitors and to pollinate from one to another flower. Light in nature provides energy, warmth and grows the food for our existence. Electric Pollination relates to a plant’s natural process of propagation using pollinators to ensure their survival. This process crucial to the plants existence ha

    • What is your audio footprint? None

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