What is Biomodd?
Biomodd is an interactive and collaborative art project that integrates nature and technology. The aim of the project is to create an art installation in which different forms of plant life coexist with a fully functioning computer system. This system is built almost entirely from recycled computers, and plant growth is stimulated by the excess heat of the working electronics. Visitors can interact with the art installation by playing a multiplayer computer game that runs on this hybrid system. Conceived by Belgian artist Angelo Vermeulen and first developed in the USA, the idea is now being expanded and relaunched in the Philippines.
The first version, Biomodd [ATH1], was installed in 2007 and 2008 in the Aesthetic Technologies Lab in Athens, Ohio. It generated both large local and international interest, was front-page news on all local newspapers, and was extensively discussed on the internet. It also received a nomination for the Ars Electronica Hybrid Art Prix 2008 in Linz, Austria. The second iteration, Biomodd [LBA2], is currently being developed in the Philippines.
International collaboration with local artists
For the Philippine version, Biomodd [LBA2
], Angelo Vermeulen partners with the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) and engages communities in Los Baños and Manila. The Philippine Biomodd is a growing team of artists, art supporters, students, and scientists. The core group consists of Filipino artist and UP Open University Faculty Diego Maranan, co-project leader; Lai del Rosario, project manager and co-finance officer; Al-Francis Librero, on-site coordinator; Christopher Nex Beñas, marketing and volunteer coordinator; PJ Lanot, media and publicity strategist; Vanessa Liwanag, traditional arts liaison; Carlos Celdran, art and culture institutions liaison; and Catherine Young, internal communicators coordinator.
The final outcome of the Philippine Biomodd will rely entirely on the dialogue and creativity of the participants. Other members of the community will also be invited to contribute to the project. In fact, Vermeulen is thinking of inviting Paete carvers, well-known artists in the Los Baños area, to build the skeletal casing of the sculpture.
The European Space Agency is taking an active interest in Biomodd. Angelo Vermeulen has been invited to the main headquarters of the ESA to talk to their researchers and visit their facilities after a successful presentation he made to their research group, MELiSSA
(Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative). MELiSSA has been conceived as a micro-organisms and higher plants based ecosystem intended as a tool to gain understanding of the behavior of artificial ecosystems, and for the development of a future regenerative life support system for long term manned space missions, e.g. a lunar base or a mission to Mars.
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