Plants of the Future

Mary Tsang (2013)

Plants of the Future is inspired and motivated by the deforestation of Cusuco National Park, Honduras – the loss of an idealized environment for biodiversity. The artist, Mary Tsang, seeks a solution in hydroponics, the science of growing and sustaining plants using only water and light.

This inter-disciplinary project addresses today’s environmental issues through the artistic metaphor of scientific spectacle. By combining a hydro-aeroponic system, custom-blown glass vessels, and a six-foot satellite dish, this piece is a symbolic reversal of one of the most primitive natural processes: the uptake of water by the roots of plants as they blossom towards the sun and sky.

Tsang envisions these “post-natural” plants, “unchained” them from the earth, as organisms of the future. She writes: “I have uprooted them from the degradation of the planet, and from tiny dormant seeds, they know nothing but pipe, metal, and fluorescent lights. They have never seen the sun, and yet they thrive more successfully than their mothers, fathers, and predecessors. In doing so, I ask: can I uproot them further? Can I design a system in which all components are portable, free, and self-sustaining? How much more can I liberate my plants from the earth that is the source of their destruction?”

Read more:






Plants of the Future was supported by a grant from the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier (FRFAF)— an endowment founded to encourage the creation of innovative artworks by the faculty, students and staff of Carnegie Mellon University. With this fund, the STUDIO seeks to develop a cache of groundbreaking projects created at CMU — works that can be described as “thinking at the edges” of the intersection of disciplines.





This project was supported in part by microgrant #2013-026 from the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier. More images can be found here.