So-called plants

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So-called plants: items from the Possible Bodies inventory[edit]


Thinking along the agency of cultural artefacts that capture and co-compose 3D polygon “bodies”, the disobedient action-research project Possible Bodies has by now inventoried over a hundred items. For this chapter, they bring together manuals, mathematical concepts, art-projects and micro-CT images to wonder about the volumetric presence of so-called plants in the context of software tools for botanical data processing, 3D-visualization and computational vegetation.

Inventories are remarkably colonial and persistently productivist. Their culture is rooted in the material origins of mercantalism and deeply intertwined with the contemporary data-based cosmology of techno-colonialist turbo-capitalism. Inventorying is also about continuous updates and keeping items available, potentially going beyond pre-designed ways of doing and being. Following feminist techno-science, Possible Bodies attempts to unfold the possibilities of this modern apparatus for designation and occupation.

Item 102: Grassroot rotation is a poetic rendering of a manual for RooTrak, a software-suite for the automated recovery of three-dimensional plant root architecture from X-Ray microcomputed tomography images. Item 109: The Removal of Trees brings up how volumetric height mapping continues the extractivist modes embedded in the industrial continuum. Item 110: Interporoussness thinks along Mel Chen’s work on toxicity and affect, trying to come to terms with the way interspecies interabsorbence is prefigured by power relations. Item 035: Difficult forrest starts from a work by artist Sina Seifee. It follows the dream of isomorphism between objects in the Amazonian forests perceptable by humans, and those that respond to 3D-scanning.

Weaving between technological writing, fiction and theory, Possible Bodies asks how “[so-called] plants” grow with and through the technologies, infrastructures and techniques of 3D. It is a persistent affirmation of the possibility for radical trans*feminist experimentation, especially in an environment that tends to erase the exciting complexities of natureculture for the sake of efficiency.