[ISEA2022] Artist Talk: Grace Grothaus — Sun Eaters: How do we relate with the non-human plant world if our invisible similarities are made visible?

Artist Statement 

June 13, MACBA – Convent dels Àngels. Session: Human and Non-Human Bodies: A Dialogue

Keywords: Electronic art, Physical Computing, Plant-Computer Interface, Electrocardiograh (ECG), Biotechnology

Through the installation of a series of environmental sensing modules, I have produced an art experience that renders the invisible bioelectric current present in all living beings and translates it into visible light for us to see. Bioelectricity in humans results in a rhythmic pulse we understand as a heartbeat. In plants, it is rendered in a much different wave pattern. This installation, which I call Sun Eaters, is installed in trees and plants along paths of frequent use and invite passers-by towards a heightened awareness of the oft-overlooked vegetation all around us.

Sun Eaters, a physical computing installation installed in plants, measures the invisible bioelectricity which is present in all living beings, and translates it into visible light for viewers to see. Through the exploration of art as sensing tool, I am exploring how we relate to the non-human plant world(s) around us. Can artworks act as an empirical interface for grasping our complex, interwoven, beyond-human ecologies of present-day Earth and ways of thinking about them? How do you imagine your relationship with a plant differently when you can physically see it?

  • Grace Grothaus (USA) is a computational media artist grappling with the climate crisis. Her practice-based artistic research encompasses environmental sensing, physical computing, algorithmically generated imagery, and speculative futurity. Her projects take the form of interactive or responsive indoor and outdoor installations, and performances. Grothaus’ artwork has been exhibited around the world, including the International Symposium on Electronic Art, Environmental Crisis: Art & Science in London, UK, Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, and the World Creativity Biennale in Brazil. Grothaus has received awards for her work from organizations such as the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts in the United States and was an Art 365 Fellow. She has been invited to speak about her work for the University of California San Diego’s Design@Large series and Ecoartspace in Santa Fe among others. Currently, Grothaus is currently working towards a PhD in Digital Media from York University in Toronto where she lives with her dog and numerous plants. https://visarts.ucsd.edu/people/grad-students/past/grace-grothaus.html