Growing System - Ingirafn Steinarsson

The moss that grows through hydroponics is a work that contains Ingirafn Steinarsson’s emblematic strategy of nature-participation. Those of us who are victims to the beauty of systems are already familiar with the irresolvable paradox of the enterprise of obsessing over the aesthetics of science while celebrating technology’s sometimes-nonsensical nature. In reality it is an art of systems that celebrates it own procreation in a kind of pornography of usefulness.

The enigma of progress lies in the mystical belief that all things are evolving to become better, straighter and more efficient so as to arrive at a different place then where we are now. We know that technology might not necessarily do this, but we like it anyway as its possibilities are so potent. Its sense of utility has become an alibi for its own reproduction much like a screw would dream of the reproductive mechanisms of a flower, while the flower desires the screw’s unadulterated utility.

Yet moss is a simpler form of life then other plants, and this simplicity is what makes it a dead-end for the evolutionary possibilities of its species. As a result, one of the most diverse variations of plant groups is the moss family, and subsequently, it is the kind of life that can bring culture back to nature – colonizing newly cooled lava just as efficiently as the cement of an abandoned house. Culture is after all just another name for bacteria – as it is an organism that is essentially destructive to society’s hygienic status quo. But as Darwin points out, there is no point to evolution; it is only a system of variations that produces freaky things all the time for the sole purpose of counterbalancing what nature gets rid of. Its only aim is to evade, even if temporarily, the essential deterioration of all things.

Hydroponics, however, is built on the scientific exclusion of dirt from the growth of plants. It consists in the strategic use of water to supply nutrients to plants in a technology of the future, which is strangely reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove, whose impotence is gleefully redirected towards the bomb and the great conspiracy of the communists to sap and purify precious bodily fluids, but which he will deny both communists and women alike.

Then there is the question of how we can conceive of these things – mycology (the study of mushrooms) is the most extreme example of how drawing can sometimes be the only way to document differences between species. Describing shades of colour in words is practically useless when watercolours can contain the biological traits of hues and discoloration with more relevance then a photograph. It is a way to fully conceive the system’s function and shares the pulsating heart of science in its drive to understand the world.

Geirþrúður Finnbogadóttir Hjörvar