Niche Inheritance

After working and thinking about the plant experiment project I continued my interests in the idea of the life support system as a method for conveying dependence.  I stumbled across a NASA website that has collected information about spin off technology.  One in particular was about the use of plants in space as a mode to filter and produce usable air and water.  In the 1960’s Dr. Bill Wolverton was an environmental scientist working with the US military to clean up environmental messes made by biological warfare centers.  His team of researchers discovered that swamp plants were cleaning up Agent Orange, which led to further research into plant filtration.


“If man is to move into closed environments, on Earth or in space, he must take along nature’s life support system.”

– Dr. Wolverton

I constructed the piece using mainly found or repurposed materials.  To include a dependency between technology and nature I constructed a simple air humidifier and pumped it into the terrarium from below.  I attached an oxygen mask to the top of the dome to imply a dependent connection from the human to nature.  The chair as a vehicle became a technological platform for the human and nature to rely on.  Green plants and moss grew vigorously in the terrarium and air pumped out of the mask.  I made the decision to expose the power source with an extension cord coiled on the floor and tethered to the wall.  Conceptually for me this countered the optimistic perspective of a closed system and left it vulnerable beyond the limits of the cord.  After the completion of the project I came up with the title Niche Inheritance in reference to the adaptation of an organism to its inherited environment.