Faint Equilibrium

living cells sculpture installation, 2017-2018

Appearence of one living plant cells mass sculpture

“Dandelion, poppy and daisy
Do you know who you should be ?”

Artist's preview of the installation

“Faint Equilibrium” is an installation artwork, displaying abstract plant tissue structures generated in vitro, under the influence of a selected chemical herbicide. This work was presented at the Art & Biology Conference in June 2017, University of Caen, France. Exhibition is scheduled in 2018.

Herbicides are a modern symbol of human attitude toward other species, addressing questions about individuals and societies repressive urges against diversity and spontaneity. For this project, a herbicide product containing the synthetic molecule 2,4-D (short for 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) is introduced in plant culture medium of several weed species (daisy, poppies, dandelion).

The molecule 2,4-D finds its origins in WW2 and was best known for its use in Vietnam as one of the two components of Agent Orange. The molecule is marketed and widely used to kill weeds but leave alive only lawns and cereal crops (it does only affect dicotyledonous).

The commercial formulation may be used at infinitesimal concentrations yet the effect on plant growth in vitro is spectacular. As endocrine disruptors do for humans, the synthetic molecule disrupts the communication between organs and cells in the plant.

When exposed, all the cells start acting on their own, ignoring the common goal of living together as a bigger self, changing the original blueprints of the plant for an abstract version. The cells turn undifferentiated making them able to become anything but not being anything precise either. They are not leaves nor roots or stem, just individual cells not knowing what to do except absorbing nutrients and reproducing, forming large vegetal tumors.

Using this procedure, the cells communities do not form durable living organism but uniquely shaped organic masses. Taken out of their protective sterile environment, these abstract sculptures would rapidly die. When maintained in culture the cells community is condemned too, as the lack of organization doesn’t permit the formation of a vascular system, exchanges of resources through cells walls gets insufficient for a large cells mass, which ends up killing the whole community.

This art piece seeks to raise ethic questionings about human relation to nature and life. Behind the peaceful beauty of this installation lies the questionable use of chemical weapons against sensitive life forms. The vegetal tumors presented in their culture containers can remind us of our own health.

“Faint Equilibrium” is directly followed by “New Biodiversity” .

As a part and prototype of this project, "La beauté pérenne" was realized and exhibited in september 2018.

The project is realized in partnership with La Fabrique de la réalité, Empire Géométrique, Université de Caen, IUT de Génie Biologique and Fabrique APEFIM. New partnerships are welcome for future developments and exhibitions.