What is PlantBot Genetics?
Wendy DesChene (Canada) and Jeff Schmuki (USA) operate under the guise of PlantBot Genetics Inc., a parody of Big Agricultural Firms who skilfully manipulate current food production and distribution systems.
PlantBot Genetics combines tactical media and public space to promote critical thinking and political action on environmental issues. By imitating actual corporate practice, we underscore the potential consequences of the global corporatization of agriculture, the natural environment, and public space. The Monsantra Project explores the lack of transparency and corporate “grafting” of food production and distribution by releasing humorous next-generation, robot-plant hybrids to prompt critical discussion on the environmental costs of intensive agricultural practices.
The ongoing Moth Project underscores the decline of the pollinator populations and the need to preserve the environment while short-circuiting doomsday predictions. Moths play a vital role in telling us more about the health of our environment and can give us crucial clues on the effects of farming practices, pesticides, air pollution, and climate change. The Moth Project creates interactive public engagements focusing on environmental education and empowers audiences through citizen science and backyard naturalism that lead to new conversations and civic action. Free downloadable field guides on area-specific pollinators and collaborative wheat-paste murals can be used by anyone to identify moths while providing information supporting pollinators of all types.
Since 2008, these street-based, interactive artworks have evolved to include an 18-foot, off-grid, enclosed trailer that contains a portable space for exhibition, classroom, and community projects. The ArtLab is entirely solar-powered and provides a creative, interdisciplinary, hands-on space for audiences. The trailer acts as the stage for the art experience, allowing informative and complex installations to arrive ready for immediate deployment, interaction, and engagement. Each project migrates across many different locations, forms, interfaces, and populations, utilizing a structuring concept of taking art and ideas to the streets and to the people, rather than waiting for audiences to come to us.
We seek to energize a place by providing a platform for interaction and engagement. PlantBot Programming is directly linked to the community, rigorous yet poetic projects are often designed to include the local citizenry and continue long after our departure. Solar Power, Hydroponics, Robotics, and Community Action shapes the present and will determine the future. With everyone, we share how easy and rewarding it is to go off grid, to recycle and refashion, and to retool, reducing our carbon footprint and becoming more self-reliant and encourage social responsibility and civic engagement. Whether it be a street, museum, or gallery based event, our goal is to connect the public to environmental concerns, to inspire audiences in an entertaining yet informative way.
Why Street Based Actions and Tactical Media?
Art has the potential to alter perceptions, foster dialogue, and inspire social change. By sharing the creative process in an unexpected way, participants develop multiple perspectives and can break free of the assumptions about what art is, and can be. PlantBot Genetics provides interactions in the hope of producing informed citizens who become enthusiastic and environmentally literate participants our world needs today.
Although the consequences of excessive and wasteful consumption are now occurring worldwide, the regenerative combination of socially engaged art, environmental research, and citizen science can foster actions that promote the responsible use of our limited natural resources. By giving voice to the environment through site-specific events which unfold in space and time and link data to place, new narratives evolve to strengthen our collective voice in countering powerful governments that enable the handful of corporations responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse emissions worldwide.