“Plant machete robot” are three words we never expected to hear together. And yet here we are.
That’s because David Bowen, a renowned kinetic artist, is pushing the boundaries of the relationship between technology and art. His latest exhibition, “Plant Machete” showcases his unique ability to fuse nature with machines. The result is a portrayal of plant life that is truly mesmerizing – and a bit dangerous.
A machete-wielding plant robot
Bowen described the piece on his website:
“Plant machete has a control system that reads and utilizes the electrical noises found in a live philodendron. The system uses an open source micro-controller connected to the plant to read varying resistance signals across the plant’s leaves. Using custom software, these signals are mapped in real-time to the movements of the joints of the industrial robot holding a machete. In this way, the movements of the machete are determined based on input from the plant. Essentially the plant is the brain of the robot controlling the machete determining how it swings, jabs, slices and interacts in space.“
Art meets tech
“Plant Machete” prompts viewers to question the boundaries between the organic and the mechanical. Bowen’s robotic machete, while purely mechanical, seems to breathe with life as it mimics the internal signals of the. It’s a testament to Bowen’s genius that he can draw such lifelike behavior from an inanimate object.
Bowen’s work sparks conversations about the interplay between nature and technology. As a result, we get a reminder of the connection between these worlds. The robotic machete brings the unseen world of plants to the surface. It also provides a unique perspective on the intricate dances of nature.
According to his website, Bowen “is a two-time recipient of a McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship and has received awards such as Grand Prize, Japan Media Arts Festival; Honorary Mention, Ars Electronica; and Third Prize, Vida Art and Artificial Life international competition. Bowen has been an artist in residence at Autodesk Pier 9, The Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art, The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and The Arctic Circle.”