For this project students were required to create a measuring device with a few stipulations. The device is supposed to look at and environment, species, or ecosystem in a unique or poetic way and measure something from them in an interesting way.
When I was thinking about what I wanted to measure I ended up taking a very end around way. After more than a bit of time thinking about ecosystems and species I didn’t know much about, I started thinking about algae blooms and how red tides are formed. Expanding from there I began to think about invasive species, mainly flora, and how different plants have come to be known as invasive. The more research I started to do the deeper into the rabbit hole I went with invasive biology and the impacts humans have had on the flora.
I eventually decided that I wanted to expand from invasive species for this project and focus on the rhetoric and relationship that humans have with plants; in this instance I decided to use Poison Ivy. Most people’s first impression when they think of the plant is that it is dangerous and they need to avoid. Some people have even written entire articles about how much they hate poison ivy. Yes, it is true that the plant can cause an allergic reaction when it is touched, no it’s not actually releasing a poison/toxin, that does not mean that the plant is innately bad or purposely malignant.
If we flip the perspective towards that of the plant then it is possible to see a different side of things and ask questions that could help change the dynamic between the human and plant. There is a lot that can go into the changing of this dynamic, ranging from creating shared spaces, cohabitation, and the fact that it is a person-centric issue. Anthropomorphization to an extent was necessary to get the point across for this device.
After a lot of ideating on the best method to go about creating this dialogue between the human and plant I decided that having a sort of Ivy Assistant to help promote the acknowledgement of being.
Design and Implementation
The first process of creating the AOB Device was deciding what I wanted to the device to do. After some thought I ended up on the idea of scraping websites that contained blogs and quotes regarding relationship advice, once I scraped enough information I processed the information and manually went through the created word doc and replaced key words with the words Poison Ivy. From there I went to the website fromSpeechToText and ran all of the created advice through their speech to text generator.
Here are the results:
From there I loaded the sounds onto a raspberry pi and set up an ultrasonic distance sensor to trigger the audio files at different distances. The idea behind this is that when a person walks up to the device, which at first looks almost like a security camera or sensor, they are greeted with the odd phrases containing the words poison ivy scattered throughout.
Finally I took the piece out to an area of Prospect Park where I knew there was a patch of Poison Ivy and set it up nearby at the edge of a trail.
I found myself becoming deeply invested in the topic as I researched and learned more about it. As this device is a prototype I am happy with the outcome but I would like to continue expanding on the concept, design, and implementation that I decide on for the future.
Were my original questions about perception and rhetoric between plants and humans answered or at least brought up?
code for the project can be found here: CODE