Brief Summary of Final Project for Planning Grant

View Seed Pod Revisions as of December, 2011

This Forecast Grant enabled me to research the potential of building a sensor-embedded sculpture in the landscape at Warner Lake. Time was spent investigating solutions and developing a plan for a public work of art. A number of technologies were explored after consultation with park staff and an urban conservationist. Results included a three-dimensional software model of a seed pod that could operate as a container in the landscape, a diagrammatic drawing of the prototypical design, and a working electronic data logger that currently measures temperature and light at regular intervals.

I originally planned on building a sensor-embedded park sculpture that let the electronics do the readings while people enjoyed the visual appeal of the physical sculpture. However, after thinking about it, and talking about things like power sources, security and maintenance with park staff members, I reconsidered the problem. About that time, I was preparing to do a residency in Banff Art Centre in the Canadian Rockies and was doing conference calls about art and technology with their program coordinator. Some of the conversations led to the concept of the "citizen scientist" and projects like "black cloud" that were related to mine.

The Banff residency was useful to learn more about new media solutions for the landscape. Some of my peers in residence were exploring the potential of cell phone, GPS-triggered video or audio. Research into this realm led to rethinking a solution to the Forecast project plan.

Upon returning from Banff, I scheduled a meeting with the Stearns County Parks manager and the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District's urban conservationist and shared my research. Attached is the outline I presented to them for the future of the project. They responded favorably and offered to assist when necessary.

After consulting with Melinda Childs Hobbs on some of the questions that my group came up with, I began to build a prototype for the research and development grant as originally proposed. However, it made more sense to do this using 3D modeling software rather than building the form out of wood or clay since it was more flexible for promoting the idea and connecting it to other media. I learned to operate such software and modeled the form of a seed that was to be planted in the restored prairie. With the ability to turn the form on screen in any direction, I then developed a mock-up in Photoshop with the seed one hundred times its original size as part of a public sculpture in the landscape. Superimposed over the imagery was a description of the process of connecting the sculpture with text to invite people to observe the land and post the data to the internet in a "citizen scientist" approach much like in

The project feels complete for the prototype stage because it is based on a great deal of research. The solution is based on a metaphor of the seed which represents potential energy - the planting of the prairie. It allows people to see a form up close that they normally don't pay attention to, and informs them of how things work in nature. In addition, it provides the observer the chance to participate in the work and in the recording of natural observations about our planet. Using the internet, which transfers data much like seeds travel in the wind, it offers the opportunity to plant information into a website that can grow like a prairie plant.

This presentation communicates the main concept behind the work efficiently but also is created in a format that can translate effectively to either other media for promotion. It can even be translated from the form on screen to a rapid prototype of an actual three-dimensional model.