Anastasia Vikhornova

© Anastasia Vikhornova 2013


Can synthetic organism function as a disaster early warning system?
In 2011 group of scientist published a paper where they describe a mechanism whereby stressed rocks in the Earth's crust release charged particles that react with the groundwater and affect it’s chemical composition. Based upon this research I proposed an oracle-tree which is engineered to detect these changes. 

The oracle tree is designed to grow an extensive root system that allows it to reach the groundwater.  Soon after 'infected' water reaches the branches white blossoms respond with particular smell and emerging red veins on the petals. 

To communicate the idea and investigate the impact of such a system on an individual’s life I’ve created a story around the town in California where oracle-trees were planted as part of the governmental programme. 

Smell is not a binary result and open for interpretation. Tree itself is a living organism and by evolving in setting different from laboratories might produce false outcomes. All these factors when decoded by non-trained person might cause a misinterpretation, mass panic and confusion. 

Throughout this project I wasn’t interested in just coming up with an alternative solution for earthquake warning system, but rather an opening up a question about the consequences on personal level when some technologies take their way out from lab spaces into the everyday life.


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