At the 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition, the Polish Pavilion presents the futuristic Greenhouse Silent Disco, exploring the symbiotic relationship between humans and plants.
The immersive installation responds to the exhibition’s chosen theme of ‘Unknown Unknowns. An introduction to mysteries’, by looking at plants as more than “static and passive organisms”, as curators Małgorzata Devosges-Cuber and Michał Duda explain. The greenhouse interrelates nature and technology to investigate the intelligence of plants and how this can inform our move towards ecological wellbeing.
At the heart of the project is research by plant physiologist Hazem Kalaji, professor in the department of Agriculture and Biology at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, and his iPlant system. Digital sensors installed within the greenhouse are there to monitor and record the plants’ reaction to certain stimuli, such as human touch or changes in the weather, translating them into sounds.
Plants communicate with the system through the excess light they receive that they do not use in photosynthesis, a phenomenon referred to as chlorophyll fluorescence.
“The greenhouse of the future is like a disco. The LED lights vary from blue to red and white depending on the plants’ needs. For example, they change colour if it is cloudy or raining outside the greenhouse,” explains professor Hazem Kalaji, who curated and supervised the scientific aspect of the exhibition.
This sense of listening to nature and finding a close connection draws on the legacy of Romanticism, with designers Barbara Nawrocka and Dominika Wilczyńska of architecture firm Miastopracownia revealing an image of nature in flux. Set within a wooden structure inspired by natural fractals, the lush vegetation is kept in handmade artisanal terracotta pots. “These are multiplied into infinity by the reflective glass walls,” as they describe.
“It is with Romanticism that nature transcends a purely illustrative role and becomes an instrument of knowledge. Man becomes part of Nature, and nature itself becomes a way to know the world. The Romantics believed that only in nature could man truly be himself,” says Michał Duda, deputy director for programming at the Museum of Architecture in Wrocław.
“So the starting point is to ask if we can draw on the wisdom of plants to inform our designs. And the answer is yes!”
Organising institutions: Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Architecture Museum in Wrocław
Curators: Małgorzata Devosges-Cuber and Michał Duda
Exhibition Design: Barbara Nawrocka and Dominika Wilczyńska. Under the supervision of Hazem Kalaji
Botanical consultations: Urszula Zajączkowska
Sound: Justyna Stasiowska
Visual identification: Nicola Cholewa and Magdalena Heliasz
Partners: Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw; State Forests – Milicz Forest District
Photography: Paolo Riolzi
Project sourced from v2com.
The Greenhouse Silent Disco is part of the Polish Pavilion at the 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition, running until 11th December 2022 and located in Viale Alemagna 6, Milan.
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