While most agricultural technology has focused on how to improve our food production system, visual artist and creative director Mau Morgó is imagining technology that grows plants for their aesthetic value. His speculative project The Constant Gardener draws on programming from current farming and agricultural apps to create a model for a database and robotic system that could autonomously care for beautiful, and often temperamental, plants. Plans for The Constant Gardener extend even beyond Morgó’s artificially intelligent robot; the designer also hopes to merge living plants with 3D printed bio structures, allowing him to format the shape and appearance of a plant’s growth. At its core, The Constant Gardener aims to merge nature with technology.
Morgó’s initial research investigated how to maintain the beauty of plants for as long as possible. In addition to utilizing data from other agricultural software platforms, his design for The Constant Gardener will learn how to take care of plants from active experience. Morgó tells MOLD that once the robot starts “to take care of [the plants], obviously a lot of them die, but many others [will survive], and so more and more knowledge is gathered.” Although The Constant Gardener is intended to cultivate plants for their aesthetic beauty, Morgó notes that his research will also inform agricultural technology used for commercial farming.
The project’s final phase is its most challenging; based on technology for 3D printing human tissue, Morgó wants to design 3D printed stems that can support living plants. If feasible, this system would allow the artist to create prosthesis-type structures for plants to adapt to; Morgó posits that once a plant adapted to and merged with the designed structure, it would continue growing in autonomous and organic forms. Such a system would serve as an intersection of aesthetics, nature and technology, where designers could influence the form and appearance of plant life.
After conducting the research that produced the foundation and plan for his project, Morgó has begun developing a rough prototype of The Constant Gardener for taking care of plants in his own home. The designer hopes to actualize each phase of his proposed work, and cites ideas like The Constant Gardener as the beginning of a new age, an era he dubs the Industrial Evolution.