2A (RME): Investigation - Tools for Tending

tl;dr: Develop a speculative / conceptual design for a martian garden and propose a series of ‘tools’ that will be used to tend our Martian garden.

Due: Friday 29th January

Digital Presentation to: RME Review 2A Slidedeck


Milestones:

Chromolithographs published circa 1888. Butterflies and Moths. WF Kirby British Museum.

Chromolithographs published circa 1888. Butterflies and Moths. WF Kirby British Museum.

Overview

On Earth we have a multitude of ecological interactions, mechanical interventions and technology assists to help us grow and sustain our gardens, fields and plants.

Butterflies and bees help cross-pollination. Insects and earthworms help with soil aeration. Trowels help turn the soil or aid in planting new crops. Fertilizers and other chemical agents add nutrients for growth; and there are a range of technologies for helping with these processes: for monitoring, for harvesting, and more besides.

We won’t have most of this on Mars. Or should we pack the butterflies?

Image by [Azuma Makoto](http://azumamakoto.com/), from *Exobiotica.*

Image by Azuma Makoto, from Exobiotica.

On Mars, things will be different:

In this exercise you’ll speculate on the ways in which we’ll care for plants in the biome. You’ll also need to consider the questions that surround this biome and the practices of sustaining plant(s) for a minimum of 18-months. Finally, we’ll need to think differently about how we care, nurture and sustain these plants and how we use technology to do this.

Learning Objectives

This exercise is designed to develop knowledge relating to telematic plant growth and help to develop a body of knowledge and proposed solutions for the Martian biome. As part of this exercise, you will:

Sketch of an ‘AstroGardening’ robot within a theoretical garden on Mars. Credit: Vanessa Harden.

Sketch of an ‘AstroGardening’ robot within a theoretical garden on Mars. Credit: Vanessa Harden.

Brief:

Develop a speculative / conceptual design for a martian garden and propose a series of ‘tools’ that will be used to tend this garden.

The proposal should consider the lifecycle of the plants (from sowing seeds to mulching and/or picking fruit)) and an 18-month deployment on Mars prior to human arrival.

Develop at least one working prototype that demonstrates the idea.

Unusual approaches, left-of-center thinking and impracticality is encouraged!

NASA concept art for stacked gardens on Mars. Credit: NASA.

NASA concept art for stacked gardens on Mars. Credit: NASA.

Deliverables:

Final deliverables to be presented at the Crit/Review

Process:

All Investigations follow the same format: a series of small collaborative exercises that build towards a bigger vision. The format is 2-week rapid explorations of a theme, idea or theory, following four stages: Research-Ideation-Build-Reflect

Investigations will be conducted over a 2-week period (4 classes). The goal of investigations is to encourage:

  1. unconventional approaches to practical problems

  2. deep research and development of core knowledge, theory and methods

  3. applied exploration as a means to problem solve and integrate theory

Students will collaboratively and rapidly explore a provocation as part of a series of four-coupled pressure-projects.

a. Research

Teams will conduct research on the investigation theme.

Each person will identify and rigorously review two precedent projects (creative projects, research papers, theory, ideas, methods, etc.) that relates to the theme

The goal is to broaden your understanding of the field and deepen your knowledge of prior work that’s relevant to this project and to the course. You’ll be expected to select a couple of works and report on your findings with a critical perspective.

Objective: Report on two works you haven’t seen before, are relevant to the project and you find particularly interesting.

Create a post, embed a video and/or images of the project, and write a short critical reflection on the project (about 200 words) in which you:

Submitting this work: Post research outcomes to the #rme channel on Slack ahead of class

b. Ideate

Teams will brainstorm to explore

Teams will generate a well documented and large set of possible, plausible, preferable and probable ideas. This will be accomplished in part through in-class exercises. Working in groups the objective will be to integrate research and speculative approaches into a proposed outcome.

Submitting this work: A short 200 word proposal should be submitted to the #rme channel on Slack ahead of class. Everyone should review and discuss online.

c. Build

Each team will prepare a working prototype of a technical system to showcase their idea. Hardware, technologies and other resources can be requested.

d. Reflect

Teams will prepare a digital presentation and take part in a crit on Tuesday. The crit is equally an opportunity to showcase success as well as pose open questions and highlight challenges or failures encountered. Teams should use the opportunity to reflect on the exploration and what it reveals for the Martian biome we plan to build in the 2nd half of the semester.

Submitting your work: Digital presentations will be made in class. Digital documentation of their work (see below) on the IDeATe Gallery by end of day.

Summary: Submitting your work

Final Documentation Requirements:

Include a write up of the following:

Each of these sections should be no more than 200 words max. and well illustrated (images, videos, etc.)

For the Project Info’s goal description: it must be tweetable - summarise your outcome in no more than 140 characters

Image from River Plant Aquarium by Mathieu Lehanneur

Image from River Plant Aquarium by Mathieu Lehanneur