Greenhouse Converter

Ursula Damm

Greenhouse Converter ,
Co-workers & Funding
© 2010 Ursula Damm
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The greenhouse converter is an apparatus for algae, water fleas and people. Water from a fountain, enriched with atmospheric gases, especially carbon dioxide, is pumped from beneath via an air supply into an aquarium. This feeds an algal culture which, influenced by light, produces biomass and oxygen from the carbon dioxide. The light is observed in the aquarium as the word “beloved”, in blue, made up from single LEDs which can be individually controlled. “Beloved” is a reference to the endosymbiosis theories of Lynn Margulis. According to her, cells with a nucleus originate from symbiotic relationships between different types of bacteria. “Beloved” represents an evolutionary model which places an act of positive co-operation ahead of the competitive genetic model of natural selection.
In the greenhouse converter, water fleas react to this word, which appears in blue, they are attracted to it and select the algae adhering to the display as food. The word – set in its blue position – therefore remains visible.
If the water fleas multiply too much and consume all their food supply then the display degenerates, slowly turning red, in order to promote algal growth, or turning yellow, in order to keep the water fleas away and to give the algae space to grow.
  • genres
    • bioart
Technology & Material
Installation Requirements / Space
o operate the greenhouse converter there is, alongside the aquarium, a box for a pump, with which passers-by can control the exchange of water and gas using a lever. An LCD display shows the oxygen content of the water outside and inside the aquarium. The lever creates the illusion of being in control and is a concession to the desire to be able to use technology to control nature, which derives from a state of balance.