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Artist Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg to create dynamic and blooming artwork for the Eden Project using emergent technologies and a pollinator’s perspective

A newly-commissioned artwork will be revealed in Spring 2021 that asks visitors to view the world from the perspective of plants and pollinators and to take part in a cultural project to help save bees and other endangered species of pollinating insects. 

mage: preparatory sketch by the artist, 2020. © Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg.

Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, an artist resident at Somerset House Studios and who is also due to exhibit at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2021, has been commissioned to realise her vision.

The commission includes a new, permanent outdoor installation at the Eden Project which explores the story of the UK’s indigenous pollinators: their vital role, their current plight, and the plans and need for their conservation. The commission site will be Eden’s scenic Outdoor Gardens, with a unique vantage point on the Eden site and its Grimshaw-designed biomes. The living artwork created for the Eden Project will comprise a new garden, designed, planted and optimised for pollinators over human aesthetics using a specially designed algorithm and curated palette of plants.

The second part of the artwork is a new website where UK audiences can use the same algorithm to generate their own unique planting scheme of locally-appropriate plants for bees and other pollinators, as a call to action to plant your own pollinator garden. The in-app algorithm will create a planting design from a wide range of plants chosen primarily for their benefits to pollinators. The website is being developed by The Workers with visual identity by Studio Frith. 

“I want to make an artwork for pollinators, not about them. We’re creating a digital artwork made from living plants, exploring how the audience of an artwork can be more-than-human, and asking how art can be useful in the ecological crisis. The Eden Project is the perfect partner for this interspecies art experiment and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with their experts and learn from them.” 

Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg

With audiences joining in and planting their own gardens – using Ginsberg’s digital artwork to do so – they are able to create their own artwork at home. 

The artist’s ambition is to extend this web function into a global platform for creative activism, and Ginsberg is currently in conversation with the Eden Project and multiple international partners to realise this vision.

Selected by a curatorial panel of leading voices in the worlds of art and culture, Ginsberg’s artwork will be an ambitious large-scale installation underpinned by innovative technologies and engaging with emerging theories regarding pollinators.

In line with Ginsberg’s artistic practice, the commission uses technology to raise awareness of one of the greatest challenges facing the natural world.

The panel members who chose the artist included: Jolyon Brewis – Partner, Grimshaw; Libita Clayton – Artist; Candida Gertler OBE – Co-Founder, Outset Contemporary Art Fund; Clare Lilley – Director of Programme, Yorkshire Sculpture Park & Curator, Frieze Sculpture; Sir Tim Smit KBE – Co-founder of the Eden Project, Executive Vice-Chair, Eden Project Ltd & Executive Co-chair, Eden Project International Ltd and Sophia Weston – Executive Trustee, Garfield Weston Foundation. 

The project will also involve collaborating with Eden’s expert network of horticulturists, scientists and consultants. This includes the National Wildflower Centre which is based at the Eden Project, Eden’s master beekeeper Rodger Dewhurst and pollination consultant David Goulson. In addition, machine-learning expert and string theory physicist, Dr Przemek Witaszczyk of Jagiellonian University, Kraków, will help develop the algorithms behind the planting programme. 

Ginsberg will draw upon contemporary research on pollinator decline and the interrelationship with widespread biodiversity loss, and most importantly alternative approaches to this serious problem. As an artist interested in questions, she asks viewers to consider what a garden is and what – or who – it can be for. 

“We are delighted to reveal the first details of Daisy’s commission, an important part of the 2021 visual arts programme at the Eden Project. Combining technology, conservation, horticulture and visual arts, Pollinator Pathmaker will resonate with our visitors on many levels. It is also exciting to be able to bring to life a project that offers audiences agency to make a creative and environmentally-positive contribution, creating their own gardens across a wide range of landscapes and climates.”

Misha Curson, Senior Curator, Eden Project, said,

The commission is part of the Eden Project’s three year project Create a Buzz, to communicate the story of the UK’s native pollinators: their vital role, their current plight and their restoration. 

About the Artist

Dr Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is an artist examining our fraught relationships with nature and technology. Through artworks, writing, and curatorial projects, Ginsberg’s work explores subjects as diverse as artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, conservation, and evolution, as she investigates the human impulse to “better” the world. 

Ginsberg spent over ten years experimentally engaging with the field of synthetic biology, developing new roles for artists and designers. She is lead author of Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on Nature (MIT Press, 2014), and in 2017 completed Better, her PhD by practice, at London’s Royal College of Art (RCA), interrogating how powerful dreams of “better” futures shape the things that get designed. She read architecture at the University of Cambridge, was a visiting scholar at Harvard University, and received her MA in Design Interactions from the RCA. 

Ginsberg won the World Technology Award for design in 2011, the London Design Medal for Emerging Talent in 2012, and the Dezeen Changemaker Award 2019. Her work has twice been nominated for Designs of the Year (2011, 2015), with Designing for the Sixth Extinction described as “romantic, dangerous… and everything else that inspires us to change and question the world”. Ginsberg exhibits internationally, including at MoMA New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, the National Museum of China, the Centre Pompidou, and the Royal Academy, and her work is in museum and private collections. Talks include TEDGlobal, PopTech, Design Indaba, and the New Yorker Tech Fest. Daisy is a resident at Somerset House Studios, London.

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