S+T+ARTS in the City | Artists-in-Residence | DISNOVATION.ORG
Understanding and Engineering Photosynthesis for a More Sustainable Future
+ Consortium Partner
+ Problem Statement
How does photosynthesis function at the molecular scale, and can we improve it? Unveiling the processes governing nanoscale energy transfer could advance sustainable agriculture, green energy, and carbon capture. We invite artists to support the scientific challenge of making plants even stronger allies in the fight of big cities such as Barcelona against climate change.
Climate change, Sustainability, Energy, Carbon, Air, Bio-Art, Bio-Hacking, Electronic Art
We need to advance clean energy research and enhance agricultural production in order to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. Natural photosynthesis has sustained life on Earth for more than 3.5 billion years, but the exact mechanisms that regulate this very fundamental process are still not completely understood.
From ICFO, based in Barcelona, Prof. Liguori’s group utilizes experimental and computational tools to explore the regulatory mechanisms governing sunlight harvesting in photosynthetic organisms. Their research aims to deepen our fundamental understanding of natural photosynthesis and potentially uncover strategies to optimize the utilization of solar energy in photosynthetic organisms.
In the artistic field, photosynthesis and chlorophyll have been the subject of several research projects in bio-art and bio hacking, to analyze the inter-species relationships and the ecological perspective that separates humans from nature, moving towards a non-anthropocentric ecology but also researching and using photosynthesis as process to co-create artistic works.
DISNOVATION.ORG is a research collective set up in Paris in 2012, whose core members include Maria Roszkowska (PL), Nicolas Maigret (FR), and Baruch Gottlieb (CA/DE). They have recently been visiting artist-researchers at the University of California, Irvine (2019), and the recipient of several research grants at V2_Rotterdam (2018-2020), UCL Louvain-La-Neuve (2018), French Cinema Center (2022), and at the University of Berkley (2023-24). They received the first prize for digital arts at Opline Prize (2021), the WRO Biennale Award (2019), and the Award for Artistic Technology Research in Vienna (2015).
DISNOVATION.ORG works at the interface between contemporary art, research and hacking, and composes tailor-made teams for each investigation together with academics, activists, engineers, and designers. More specifically their recent artistic provocations seek to empower Post Growth imaginaries and practices by challenging the widespread faith that ‘economic growth’ and ‘technological fixes’ will solve the ecosystemic disruptions they produced in the first place. They recently co-edited A Bestiary of the Anthropocene with Nicolas Nova, an atlas of anthropic hybrid creatures, and The Pirate Book, an anthology on media piracy.
DISNOVATION.ORG’s works have been exhibited, performed, published and reviewed worldwide, including at the Palais de Tokyo, Centre Pompidou, Jeu de Paume (Paris), Museum of Art and Design (New York), Fonderie Darling (Montréal), HMKV (Dortmund), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), ZKM (Karlsruhe), Ars Electronica (Linz), MU (Eindhoven), Strelka Institute (Moscow), China Museum of Digital Arts (Beijing), Chronus Art Center (Shanghai), Polytechnic Museum (Moscow), ISEA (Paris, Hong Kong), Elektra (Montréal), HEK (Basel)… Their work has been featured in Forbes, Wired, Vice, Motherboard, Libération, Die Zeit, Arte TV, Next Nature, Hyperallergic, Le Temps, Neural.it, Digicult, Gizmodo and Filmmaker Magazine among others.
+ Residence Project: The Solar Share
Sustainability is a key term in environmental policy, but what does “sustainable” actually mean?
Developed by DISNOVATION.ORG, an international art-based research collective, The Solar Share proposes a sustainability-oriented economic model revolving around the sunlight harvested in photosynthetic organisms.
Firstly, we propose to develop a data visualization/map of planetary scale photosynthesis to help represent how much new energy is entering the Earth’s system every year, in the form of biomass. We are interested in visually comparing this annual photosynthetic energy income to the overall energy consumed by humanity.
Secondly, we propose to build a one square meter photo-bioreactor, where micro-algaes are cultivated. In doing so, the Solar Share becomes an invitation to explore how human energy requirements depend on photosynthesis, in both direct and indirect forms (ie. food, fossil fuels). This bioreactor will be set up with an array of sensors and monitors which allow the public live insights into the processes at hand.
The Solar Share allows users to experience, explore, and experiment with a radical economic model, where human metabolism as well as modern lifestyle energy needs, are understood as factors of the sunlight captured in the biosphere. This artwork challenges customary understandings of economic “value”, and speculates how to reformulate the sustainability challenges of human beings within planetary affordances, as reproduced through renewable solar income.
+ Jury Testimonial
“In addition to its scientific basis and its good artistic resolution, the project has a great capacity to raise awareness.” – Tere Badia