When I decided to go back to university to get a masters degree, I had no idea where it would lead. I felt the need to do it for various reasons, many of which were accentuated when they announced a program that was created and taught by one of my all-time plant neurobiology idols: Stefano Mancuso. Futuro Vegetale (Vegetal Future: plants, social innovation, project design), from the title you would think it was created just for me!
So here we are, down to the last few weeks of the program and the final project, and what do I feel I have acquired?
While the program was definitely not structured as well as it could have been--as noted by just about everyone in the course--I am extremely grateful for what I was able to get out of it. In addition to meeting a whole series of fascinating people that I now consider both colleagues and friends, I discovered how the plant world touches every part of the built and unbuilt world. Architecture, design, archaeology, urban planning, music, linguistics, the arts.... in every crevice, we find structures of the plant world that can show us a better way.
Plants are not just about gardens and pots. They are fundamental structures that have been living and building in this world since time immortal. They have witnessed our greatest events, consoled us in terrifying moments, they have broken through our hardest materials, have found solutions to our most challenging problems, and continue to evolve in ways that we humans, being the young species that we are, are not yet able to imagine.
Look to the Prehistoric to Design the Contemporary
When I first presented the idea for my final project, it was all about the future: an installation that brought together plants, the arts, and the dream to create an Urban Plantasy co-created by humans and plants. But little did I know, that synchronicity saw that I was not yet ready for the task. Instead, she guided me in a completely different direction: THE PAST.
Before graduate school, I had never heard of Matera. This ancient city in southern Italy is one of the few places on this planet that has been continuously inhabited since the 10th millennium BC. In the beginning, they did not live in human built houses. Instead, they lived in grottos--underground caves in the stone mountainside. Over time, as they dug deeper into the mountain, they used the material to build entryways, which became the front rooms of the houses. (You could say it was a circular economy from day one!) And even today, a portion of the city continues to live in the original cave structures, remodeled with all the wants and needs of modern times.
Matera becomes the European Capital of Culture in 2019, and as such there are many different events happening. One open call is looking for an exhibit that showcases prehistoric life in the grottos, and we thought this would be the prefect testing ground to put to use the various disciplines we explored in the master.
The most important element of our installation is, of course, the plant world. What role has it played in life stretching from the prehistoric to the present, with particular emphasis on three major interactions:
- External contemplation in the rooftop garden
- Inner reflection in the grotto
- Community exchanges in the courtyard
So with 10 days to go, I find myself immersed in history, symbolism, design, architecture, and plants trying to put together a billion piece jigsaw puzzle in some semblance of Stone Age biophilic connection, without being too literal. Here is a little taste of the direction for the courtyard:
If you know anyone that creates giant hourglasses, send them my way! The same goes for nature-inspired outdoor furniture and natural dyes. And did I tell you that we would also like to add a Bitcoin supported Plantoid in the middle of the courtyard? That is one example of how we want to show how nature has evolved from the past to the present!
Time to go back to the project, my group is waiting on me to design the experiential hall. Need to come up with some cool activities for people to do with stones. All ideas are welcome!
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Plant Neurobiology and Interspecies CoCreation
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Plant neurobiology, biomimicry, social innovation, plant music, design, interspecies communication, urban planning... These are just some of the biophilic topics I cover on my website and here on Steemit. Follow along and comment often. My goal is to create discussion, not give a conference! And if you explore related topics, let me know in the comments, I would love to follow you.
As a professional keynote speaker and communications entrepreneur with a successful career using cutting-edge strategies for building community, Tigrilla knows how to take a project from vision to completion. Her future-oriented way of thinking helps her build a wide variety of projects, working with artists and scientists alike to bring their projects to fruition.