Clouds of Pollen. Datuak, material bizia = Clouds of Pollen. Datos, material vivo = Clouds of Pollen. Data as Living Material
All living things including plants and trees grow based on the instructions in their DNA. In fact DNA is the oldest and most dense information system in the world. A system that can be used to store digital data.
This leads to tantalising possibilities. Any type of digital file, image files, text files and even music, could be encoded into the DNA of plants and trees. For example, imagine adding your family photos to an Oak tree. As the tree matures it would naturally reproduce that data and spread it across generations via pollen.
Grow Your Own Cloud collective (Monika Seyfried and Cyrus Clarke) have been researching the possibilities of DNA data storage in plants since 2017. For their latest work, they exchanged with physicist Steen Rasmussen to understand the potential for living systems to interact with artificial life.
In Clouds of Pollen they examine the possibilities of pollen as an information system technology. A material that is neither fully alive nor dead. A material dense enough to carry all the information needed to build complex organisms such as trees. A material capable of spreading data across generations.
Their research asks, what if we could use that same information system to carry our data, and create:
-A system where data is reproduced naturally by living processes.
-A system where data can evolve with nature as it is intended to.
-A system that is as open source (or closed) as we want it to be.
As human technology progresses and we start to develop our own ‘living materials’ Clouds of Pollen interrogates how living systems and these living materials might interact.