words Natasha LyonsA plant/robot hybrid that lives off industrial waste is a new model for sustainable living by Mexican artist Gilberto Ezparza.
The piece is called Nomadic Plants and is part of an exhibition that opens this week at the LABoral gallery in Asturias, Spain. The project draws inspiration from natural processes whereby plants adapt to hostile environments and colonise new territories.
“Nowadays robots are a waste of energy: they dance and they move all the time,” says Ezparza. Instead, his small robot runs on energy produced from a store of bacteria. When these microorganisms need nourishment the machine seeks out dirty water, which is then decomposed to create energy; any surplus is used to emit a noise and sustain plants carried on its back. The machine and plants becomes co-dependent.
Ezparza sees his work as research. Since studying visual arts at the San Carlos School of Fine Arts in Valencia, Spain, his work has explored organisms and systems combining high and low technology. In a previous project, Urban Parasites, creatures made from recycled electronic goods infested urban environments, feeding of a city’s electricity and telephone wires. With this project – akin to science fiction – he becomes the mad professor, creating a mutated organism that no longer relies on its master to survive. But unlike the fearful creatures found in movies, the Nomadic Plant has an autonomous, unthreatening existence. This unusual self-sufficient system is a new take on design’s current buzzword, sustainability.
The installation runs from 25 March to 7 June at LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, an art and technology institute in Asturias, Spain.