Spore 1.1

Spore 1.1 from matt kenyon on Vimeo.

From artists Matt Kenyon and Doug Easterly of S.W.A.M.P.(Studies in Work Atmospheres and Mass Production), “Spore 1.1.”

It consists of a rubber tree plant, purchased from Home Depot, that is hooked up to a self-contained watering mechanism and calibrated on a weekly basis, according to the performance of Home Depot stock. If the Home Depot stock does well, Spore 1.1 gets watered. If Home Depot stock does poorly, “Spore 1.1.” goes without. Because Home Depot guarantees all of their plants for one year, if one rubber tree dies, another will be substituted in its place.

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  1. Am I the only one who thought that was kind of creepy? Maybe it was the guy’s voice. He sounded like HAL to me….

  2. “Indefinitely.” Really? Theoretically, this is a positive feedback loop which could death spiral. HD stock goes down -> Spore goes thirsty -> Spore dies -> Spore is replaced -> HD operating expenses go up -> HD stock goes down.

    That said, one art installation taking advantage of a return policy probably won’t break their business model.

    Love the Biometer concept in time series. It’s way more compelling than a strictly digital Ambient Device colored orb sniffing a stock ticker.

  3. I also think this is really creepy, new-world -govermentish. That something should die because stock goes down? What is this?! SICK!

  4. Well, that makes me want to go right out and promote HD so the plant won’t die. Isn’t this sort of like kicking the dog because your boss behaved badly? This is creepy and cruel. “I won’t water my garden today because I did not make enough tips/get a raise/get a bonus.” Now, who would approve of that nonsense. So, HD does poorly and the plant suffers? WHY? I can deal with graphs and charts. I don’t mean to get all sentimental over a plant, but if I forget to water my plants, I apologize while I am watering them.

  5. So, you purchased a healthy, living plant. You don’t provide the proper environment for plant to live, and yet, will return the dead plant for another live one. Doesn’t seem ethical to me.

  6. I think the point the artists are trying to make is that our economy has become abstracted from the true economy, i.e. nature. In other words, we’ve become obsessed with the fluctuations of the stock market and forget that, ultimately, we owe our economic existence to tangibles such as oil, soil and water. By associating the stock price of Home Depot with a living thing the artists are playing with the intersection of economics and ecology. But I realize that conceptual art is not everyone’s cup o’ tea.

  7. I get that this seems unfair to the plant but I think the point that the artists were trying to illustrate is worth it.

    The economy represented by the Big Box store has a massive disconnect from the real cost of the things we buy – the human, ecological, and environmental costs are much, much higher than the bargain basement prices we pay at the till.

    The truth is that, while the rubber tree did well as the company did well, the success of these kinds of corporations have societal and environmental consequences that are largely negative.

    That little tree was living the opposite quality of life to the thousands of trees that were cut down in some third world country to build a factory to produce the discount widget sold by the store in question.

    It has it pretty good.

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