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Human Plant Interfaces: Conclusion and Findings

October 25th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments


The theoretical and practical part of this thesis proposed techniques and applications for Human Plant Interfaces. The results of the qualitative analysis and the practical work exposed evidences for the relevance of the topic Human Plant Interaction.

The theoretical analysis pointed out that plants are a valid material for visualization applications. The applied techniques are heavily depending on the data characteristics. For long term data visualization the usage of plant displays with their changing appearance ability through plants growth is an appropriate tool. In contrast to this, visualizing real-time data requires a different approach. Simple data values or the visualizations of state changes in an interactive system can be performed through kinetic gestures of a plant (e.g. movement of branches). More complex data can be visualized with the help of projection mapping techniques. The physical size of these visualizations varied from small (table-size) to huge.

Beyond the visualization approaches, the research also reveals that plants provide a valuable sensory tools set. The introduced biosensing with plants are able to fulfil a comprehensive collection of frequently used sensor functions (touch, sensitive touch, touch location, pressure, motion, proximity, sound and light). These are currently only implemented with electronic parts. These sensing implementations with a plant have to be distinguished in two different angles. The most applied method used plants as transducer. This was valid for the implementations that use voltage resistance, piezo effects, capacity sensing or an electronic magnetic field analysis for their human interaction sensing. The other approach measured biopotential changes (voltage differences) within the plant through electrodes. This approach is the most advanced sensor technic in relation of using real physical plant signals. No matter which sensing mode was used, all of them need a frequently calibration for providing reliable sensor values.

The chapters about applications of Human Plant Interfaces involved the scientific fields robotic, public interventions, environmental design and education as well as it raised philosophical and ethical questions about an appropriate plant treatment in our society. The presented projects were able to encourage interactions between plants and humans and enhanced people to people interaction in urban environments. All projects successfully enriched the human plant relationship in an everyday life context. Furthermore, the artworks also provided some new inspirations for ubiquitous computing applications in and for natural environments.

The practical part of this thesis intended a minimalistic use of technology. From project to project the usage and integration of technology were increased. The first work “Season Patterns” focused on the visual aesthetics changes for plants during the year. It spotlights the viewer’s attention to the natural and dynamic process of our environment. The public intervention projects “Travelling Plants” and “Dead Tree Drop” proved that it does not require complicated technology for connecting people with each other. The strong emotional connection that many humans hold to plants was successfully used during the “Travelling Plant” installation for connecting people in a public transport environment. The tree has a strong reference to its location and functions as time-based storyteller for a neighbourhood.  The project “Charisma Garden” beautified its indoor environment as well as it was able to visualize the charismatic impact of an individual within the society. All four works addressed the relationship between humans and plants and proposed solutions how we can integrate plants more in our daily life without losing the valuable functions of current communication technology. Moreover, the practical part of this thesis proved that technology and natural elements can be combined harmonically. Initiatives like the “ALOTOF” project are a further evidence for an emerging movement of bringing together technology, art and social science in one application.

The field of Human Plant Interface continoues to provide many new opportunities for artists to express and investigate the relationship between humans and plants. Especially topics like applying Floriography to current communication technology or the use of certain plant lifecycles (blooming, seed distribution) are rarely used in our explored art context.

The on-going research of the plant sensory system will surely provide some new findings for artists to experiment further with biosensing in a human computer interaction in an environmental design context. The future of genetic manipulation in relation to Human Plant Interfaces is uncertain. The society’s current fear and the concerns towards biotechnology is an important factor for future developments in this field. Bio artists like Laura Cinti and scientist are in charge for informing the people better about these technologies.

In summary, the topic of Human Plant Interfaces is capable to offer a diverse experimental playground for artists and scientists [Myers2012]. Furthermore, this thesis gathered directions and fields of Human Plant Interfaces from the last 25 years and suggested new developments in this area for improving our current relationship with nature.


[Myers2012] Myers, William (2012). Bio Design: Nature + Science + Creativity. The Museum of Modern Art, 2012

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