PLSS is a system designed to support a set of experiments with life support systems for plants in hostile environments[1].

The experiments engage with questions of the relationship between man and environment which arise across a number of disciplines. Inspired by Guattari, we aim to act interdisciplinarily, tracing these questions transversely through various problem domains with various approaches. Concretely, PLSS consists of three modular ‘plant boxes’ and supporting infrastructure, each of which will be designed to support an indoor urban gardening experiment. The experiments will be carried out in the Topological Media Lab, a studio-lab in a building with a highly controlled and somewhat arid climate. We would, however, like to enlarge our design scope beyond the concrete elements, considering the entire assemblage as such: not just technical systems embedded in organic systems, but our collective relations with the system and each other, intellectual work produced along with the project, our relationship with local and global communities, and the system as a whole as a laboratory “of thought and experimentation for future forms of subjectivation”[2]. PLSS is a group project with different members handling different aspects of the project. I’ll list the most obvious ones: Physical Infrastructure Three plant boxes have been built from wood, each able to support a small garden. They are overbuilt to last at least 10 years. A cistern will be installed near the boxes with a series of tubes that deliver water to the boxes. We anticipate building passive (mirror-based) and active (LED) lighting systems and terrariums in the longterm. Technical Infrastructure Mechatronic systems will be constructed to participate in the ‘organic’ plant-soil-watermicroorganism-etc. system. At first we will focus on facilitating HPI (human plant interface) and an automated water delivery system. We will experiment with the idea of technical systems considered as part of a machinic assemblage, rather than external to the organic systems, an approach that gives rise to conflicts of interest. We will work biomimetically, exploring mechatronic techniques that exploit ‘intrinsic functionality’ (fabric sensors, fiber optics) as opposed to a ‘component’ (box and wires) approach. Philosophical Work We will be preparing a paper on environmental ethics using PLSS as an experimental base for the work. The philosophical work will draw from ‘deep ecology’ pace Naess and Spinoza, however rejecting the dichotomy between ‘instrumental’ and ‘intrinsic’ value

inherent in Naess’ work[3] and introducing notions of alterity pace Levinas and Zylinska. This pure ethics work will be extended by concepts from Guattari’s ecosophy and Haraway’s ‘cyborg’ (not necessarily ‘cyborg-feminism) to propose courses of action. ‘Activism’ Experiments will be constructed to explore new ways of using, interacting with, relating to, etc. plants beyond typical gardner-garden, farmer-farm relationships. Or to put it negatively – we will experiment with methods for disrupting these traditional relationships. In the spirit of Guattari, we will be experimenting with plants that might be considered undesirable, ugly, or not considered at all, paying close attention to systems of value that develop. Dissemination We aim to publish our results for our local community and for a global audience. We will advertise and hold workshops at Concordia University to share locally. To address a global audience, we will share our work explicitly with groups like Foam and Metabolicity (Loop.pH) and otherwise via a public web page of some sort. Philosophical work will be presented at the Concordia Undergraduate Research Day and hopefully in academic journals. For now we have yet to generate some experimental ideas, but we have a meeting planned for this purpose this weekend. I am serving as the project leader for this project as well as doing most of the mechatronic work. As I am not actually doing most of the project, for this class I propose that I prepare a presentation of the work and a short paper (4 pages) explicating the concepts we are exploring. [1] for instance, modern office buildings [2] Guattari (and Deleuze?) quoted in the introduction to Fuller’s Media Ecologies. Original citation unkown. [3] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Environmental Ethics” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-environmental/

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