In 2007 I organized an exhibition called BioTechnique for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. BioTechnique displayed artifacts designed to host and support living organisms within enclosed spaces, including the works of artists, scientists, designers and engineers who engage in this practice. The desire to protect and nurture living processes has motivated the formation of numerous synthetic growing environments, including garden walls, ceramic pots, fermentation chambers, test tubes and bioreactors amongst others. This control space in functional husbandry transcends any specific set of materials or processes, and speaks of a deep root in the human nature of crafting the world.


In many countries herbaceous plants are grown for local markets using hydroponics, in which the roots of the plants live in a water based medium instead of soil. This wall based unit is designed for intensive crop cultivation in limited spaces, with a moving track light that rolls back and forth in front of three rows of basil. While this system uses many state-of-the-art components hydroponics is an ancient practice, used as far back as the Aztec culture if not earlier.

Plant ‘It Earth is a designer and retailer of hydroponic growing systems based in the Bay Area


These orchids were cultivated by carefully growing a microscopic piece of tissue into a full plant rather than starting from seeds. This is a form of cloning, in that the organism is an exact genetic copy of the plant from which it started. Called ‘meristemic tissue culture’, this cloning technique has transformed the notoriously difficult to grow orchid into a mass produced consumer item.

Golden Gate Orchids is a Bay Area based orchid cultivating farm.

6_orchid_clones 7_orchid_clones


The Tissue Culture and Art Project (TC&A) presented NoArk, a modern version of a cabinet of curiosities, within which the world of natural wonders are divided, cataloged and referenced in accordance to human value and meaning.

TC&A was established in 1996 by Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr to explore tissue-engineering technologies as a medium for artistic expression. TC&A is based in SymbioticA, the State Center of Excellence for Biological Art at the University of Western Australia.