JEFFERY

"Jeffery" is a speculative plant designed to challenge the notion of the existing standpoint of plants, "the bottom of the hierarchy of living organisms", through the 'fabricated' interaction. Once you pet Jeffery, it responds to you by flickering the lights, in a way that we are able to understand.

We, as human beings, tend to prioritize humans over animals, animals over plants although each living organism has its own value of life. While we start to sympathize the rights of animals and have empathies to them, we hardly feel the same things for plants. Why do we have less empathy with plants? What if plants share similar communication with us? Would it enrich the relationship with plants?

2018

5 x 10 x 8 inches

a plant in a planter, LEDs, jumper wires, steel wools, breadboard, battery

process

concept development

This project started from the prompt for a creative switch in 'Ambient Interfaces' class at RISD. While my first concept was a plant switch having on/off mechanism by pouring water, I pivoted to petting as the switch mechanism as I found that the soil in the planter has enough conductivity to complete electric circuit without water.

Once the idea reached to petting, it started to evolve to question the relationship between human and plant; 'what if plants respond as if they interact with us? Would it create a different intimacy and affection to plants? If so, would we have a different relationship with plants?' To answer to my curiosity, I tried to create the 'pseudo' interaction which plants look like reacting through flickering lights to our petting behavior.

The 1st concept, being discarded as the soil itself completed electric circuit
The 1st concept, being discarded as the soil itself completed electric circuit

designing interaction

The interaction was created by using only a breadboard and jumper wires, the components of electric circuit. To create the immediate "responses" from plants, two almost-connected wires, let's say 'probes', were put underneath of steel wools hanging from plants leaves.

Petting plants resulted in pressing down leavds and lowering the positions of steel wools which completed electric circuit by touching the probes. The electric circuit was constructed in a parallel sequence so several probes can detect the interactions from everywhere independently.

techniques | circuit making & soldering
tools | multimeter & soldering station

The probe: two almost-connected jumper wires
The probe: two almost-connected jumper wires
Building a parallel sequence with 8 LEDs
Probes to be installed by passing through a planter
Probes connected with a plant
Switch test with petting interactions