Acoustic Botany

23.06.10 | London

Genetically Engineered Sound Garden.

The debate around Genetic Engineering is currently centered around vital issues such as food, healthcare and the environment. However, we have been shaping nature for thousands of years, not only to suit our needs, but our most irrational desires. Beautiful flowers, mind altering weeds and crabs shaped like human faces all thrive on these desires, giving them an evolutionary advantage. By presenting a fantastical acoustic garden, a controlled ecosystem of entertainment, I aim to explore our cultural and aesthetic relationship to nature, and to question its future in the age of Synthetic Biology.

Scientific Advisors:
– Christina Agapakis, PhD Candidate, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Harvard University. Oscillator
– Kirsten Jensen, Research Associate and James Chapell, PhD Candidate, Macromolecular Structure and Function Research Group, Division of Molecular Biosciences, Imperial College London

Thanks to:
Tommaso Lanza, Tim Olden, Emily Hayes, Andy Clymer, James Brown and PJ Steiner at the Haseloff Lab, Cambridge

Singing flower. Because the parasite diverts the plant’s energy for its own purposes, only small flowers manage to grow.

Modified Agrobacterium takes sugars and nutrients from the host plant to encourage the growth of parasitic galls and fill them with gas to produce sound.

Lab Testing Rig: Factors like tension and temperature are modulated to fine tune the sound.

String-Nut and bugs engineered to chew in rhythm.

Desired traits such as volume, timbre and harmony are acquired through selective breeding techniques.

Grafting, an age old practice (since at least 2000 BC.), is used to create harmonic notes combinations on a single tree.

all rights reserved © David Benqué


Utopia Forever – Gestalten
KERB 19RMIT Journal
We Make Money Not Art
Next Nature

Beijing Design Triennial 2011
– National Museum of China
Becoming Transnatural
– Amsterdam 2011
Alter Nature: We Can
– Z33 Hasselt 2010
London Design Festival
– V&A London 2010
What If…
– Wellcome Trust 2010