Jurema Action Plant

Photo by Katherine Cuningham, at the KABK preview exam, Hoop Gallery, Den Haag / NL 2011.

Exhibition Taming Technology, Florence (IT) 2011.


Jurema Action Plant is an interactive bio-machine. It consists in a customized machine which interfaces a sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica).

Jurema Action Plant aims to empower plants by enabling them to use similar technologies as humans use. It is also explores new ways of communication and co-relation between humans, living organism and a machine. Much like humans, animals and machines, the plants have an electrical signal traveling inside them, but they do not have nerves like humans and animals; nor wires and cables like machines. This electrical signal travels inside the cells of the plant. Inspired by this phenomenon, I collaborated with professor Bert van Duijn from the Biology University and the Hortus Botanicus, both from Leiden, on a research into the Action Potential of this plant. At V2_ , we settled upon a solution in which a signal amplifier reads the differences in the electromagnetic field around the plant to determine when it is being touched. These electromagnetic variations trigger movement of the robotic structure, on which the plant is situated, by means of a custom-made circuit board. The thresholds for response are set in such a way that only touching the plant makes it move away from the person touching it.

“Their movement however generally remains invisible to us, because their muscle and nerve-like systems operate at a very slow timescale and their rooting in soil confines their motion to the movement of branches and leaves. These restrictions give plants an enormous disadvantage compared to their main aggressors: animals and humans, in many instances resulting in a loss of biodiversity and even extinction.” (Michel van Dartel, curator V2)

To measure the Action Potential from the plant some electrodes are placed in its branches. When the leaves and branches of the plant are touched this signal changes. This electrical signal travels in the plant and the Action Potential can be measured in any part of the plant, not necessarily where the electrodes are placed. If the plants can fell the touch and this signal travels inside the plant and be can be measured in any part, does it means that plants have memory, consciousness?

Presentation at V2_ Test Lab – ISEA RHUR 2010 – photo by David Jonas-V2_

Oritur projects | Jurema Action Plant from Ivan Henriques on Vimeo.

Jurema Action Plant Firenze 2011 from Ivan Henriques on Vimeo.

Imagine if we could communicate with plants and work together. Is it possible to reshape and redefine our tools to be coherent with the environment? Would we keep on destroying the few existent plants/animals and forests?

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One thought on “Jurema Action Plant

  1. Pingback: Ivan Henriques – Jurema Action Plant | Pulsu(m) Plantae

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