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Tillandsia SWARM - experimental living plant sculptures by Lloyd Godman based on the principle of super sustainability - © Lloyd Godman

A ground breaking art/science experiment with Tillandsia plants that need no soil or watering system!

Currently there are - 22 SWARM sites - on 6 structures across 2 states - at levels 1, 2, 3, 11, 56, 65, 91 and 92 (295m above base)

Pending SWARM sites

Eltham Town Square  
Austin Hospital  
Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital  
Sugarloaf – Warrandyte North Resource Centre       North Warrandyte  
Bunjil – Hurstbridge Community Hub,  Hurstbridge  
Edendale – Eltham  
Ellis – Diamond Creek Senior Citizens   Diamond Creek  
Blue Lake – Civic Centre    Greensborough  
Swipers Gully – Research Preschool            Research  
Wingrove - Eltham Community and Reception Centre   Eltham  

 

Alpha Space Air Plant Systems (ASAPS) PDF info

 

SWARM

consists of a diaspora of caged Tillandsias (air plants), scattered across a range of urban sites including Eureka Tower, CH2 Building, MGA and Essendon Airport. The sophisticated biology of air plants enables them to up-take all water and nutrients through special cells on the leaf, even absorbing toxic airborne heavy metal particulates. Further to this, they are one of few plants that can exchange CO2 for oxygen at night offering a valuable means to filter the air.

Rooting for Swarm Intelligence in Plants

from Science News

They're underfoot and under-appreciated. But the roots of a plant may demonstrate the remarkable wisdom of crowds just as swarms of honeybees or humans can.

Three plant scientists now propose that roots growing this way and that in their dark and dangerous soil world may fit a definition for what's called swarm intelligence. Each tip in a root system acquires information at least partly independently, says plant cell biologist František Baluška of the University of Bonn in Germany. If that information gets processed in interactions with other roots and the whole tangle then solves what might be considered a cognitive problem in a way that a lone root couldn't, he says, then that would be swarm intelligence.

 

Tillandsia Swarm

  • As Tillandsia plants have no conventional root system and the biology of their leaves has been adapted for this function, Tillandsia SWARM proposes that the plants might be able to communicate through their trichome cells via the air. Not underground via roots, but through the air waves.
  • In the case of Tillandsia SWARM it also references how the experimental plant sites are expanding in the way bees swarm as a way of beginning a new colony.
  • The term Plant Swarming is also used to describe naturally occurring hybrids that become a recognized species.

Tiilandsia

Tillandsias are a genus of about 1000 species within the Bromeliad plant family that all but one originate from south, central and the southern part of north America. Brtomeliads are best know for the edible pineapple.

 

Biomonitors

As mentioned, through their special tichome leaf cells, Tillandsias are able to absorb toxic airborne heavy metal particulates form the atmosphere and consequently offer a cost efficient and effective Biomonitor within the urban environment. After a period of time a leaf sample can be tested in a laboratory as an indicator of comparative pollution levels at the various Tillandsia SWARM sites in the urban environment. The worlds leading Bromeliad biologist, David Benzing is who invented the process is assisting with this work.

AIR

AIR, is a gallery-based work. Tillandsias and their cages are combined to form the word AIR. However, here, each plant and cage corresponds to a plant and cage outside the gallery walls, and viewers are provided with a photograph, location, installation date and QR code / short URL that directs to further information on the particular site.

  • Air is an interactive living sculpture using Tillandsias commonly known as air plants
  • It consists of more than 30 mesh cages containing air plants arranged to form the letters AIR
  • The work suspends within the gallery and is free to rotate. Each plant cage corresponds to a similar plant cage of the Tillandsia SWARM project which are located at various urban sites and includes Eureka Tower, CH2 building, Essendon Airport, Montsalvat, The Friend’s School Hobart, Monash Gallery of Art and Australian Print workshop
  • At the end of each cage is a photograph, details of the location, install date and a QR code / short URL that directs the audience to further information on that site

Separated by geography and context, AIR is an expanding, ecological sculpture in two parts.
One aspect sees a diaspora of Tillandsias (air plants) located in protective mesh cages various urban sites.

In the second, corresponding plant cages are combined to manifest as the word AIR, but within a gallery context. Didactic panels offer details and a photograph of the analogous location, install date and a QR code / short URL that directs the audience to further information on that site.
While deliberately ambiguous, the title AIR, points to the role plants play in purifying the air we breathe. Through sophisticated biological adaption, air plants are able to absorb all water/nutrients, and even heavy metal airborne particulates through special leaf cells and can be used as biomonitors. Curiously they are one of few plant families that use a CAM cycle to capture CO2 and release oxygen at night.

Separated by geography and context, AIR is an expanding, ecological sculpture in two parts.
One aspect sees a diaspora of Tillandsias (air plants) located in protective mesh cages various urban sites.

In the second, corresponding plant cages are combined to manifest as the word AIR, but within a gallery context. Didactic panels offer details and a photograph of the analogous location, install date and a QR code / short URL that directs the audience to further information on that site.
While deliberately ambiguous, the title AIR, points to the role plants play in purifying the air we breathe. Through sophisticated biological adaption, air plants are able to absorb all water/nutrients, and even heavy metal airborne particulates through special leaf cells and can be used as biomonitors. Curiously they are one of few plant families that use a CAM cycle to capture CO2 and release oxygen at night.

 

Alpha Space

  • With the suspended air plant sculptures like those installed for the Airborne project, we are interested in exploring how plants can occupy space but not surface. Suspension on and via wires extends the potential habitat of plants into what I term Alpha Space. While vertical and roof top gardens have become popular in major cities worldwide, they occupy surface, but these intriguing ground breaking air gardens step beyond earthly confines to rotate suspended in air or Alpha space
  • For many decades, my work had been termed environmental art. But more recently this term has been claimed by artists who create virtual environments. Ecology is the branch of biology dealing with the relations and interactions between organisms and their environment, including other organisms. I experiment using air plants within both ecology and an art context.
  • The 22 March, 2015, on-line edition of The AGE newspaper, termed the experiments on Eureka tower as “Extreme Gardening”. It was such a great concept for what we are doing with the Tillandsias within the urban environment, we decided to adopt it.

Team

Lloyd Godman: MFA : Ecological artist

  • As a key aspect of his MFA study from 1996 at RMIT, Lloyd worked with Bromeliad plants and particularly air plants. After 20 years experimenting with air plants and realizing many plant based art projects in New Zealand, Australia, U.S.A. and France he is now acknowledged as a leader in this field.
  • “Lloyd Godman is one of a new breed of environmental artists whose work is directly influencing ‘green’ building design......Godman’s installations are the result of a unique blend of botanical science, environmental awareness and artistic expression. All three elements are intrinsic to the practical realization of his polymathic vision”. - John Power - Editor of Facility Management
    Magazine Aug 2011

 

Stuart Jones: Structural Engineer BE(Civil & Computing), FIEAust, CPEng, NPER

  • Stuart Jones is Technical Director for Arcadis in Melbourne. Previous to this he was the Owner/ Director of Point 5 Consulting in Melbourne for 14 years. Stuart has over 25 years professional experience in all phases of project delivery and specializes in creative structural design with ex­tensive experience in Australia and throughout Asia.
  • Stu was the senior structural engineer who oversaw the building of Federation Square in Melbourne

Grant Harris: Environmental Scientist & Arboricultural Consultant

  • Grant Harris is the principle of Ironbark Environ­mental Arboriculture, with over 12 years experience in the arboricultural sector he also holds a degree in Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology). His particular areas of in­terest are the use of green infrastructure to mitigate urban heat island effects and urban ecology.