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Harry der Boghosian Fellowship Exhibition: Patent Plants

September 12, 2023September 24, 2023 EDT

Slocum Hall, Marble Room

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What is a potted plant in the age of botanical reproduction? Often mass-produced in today’s blooming plant industry, houseplants are as much living organisms as they are technoscientific artifacts. Many novel tropical and subtropical cultivars in the U.S. are created by plant breeders, who augment biological traits to optimize propagation, shipping, ease of maintenance, and marketable aesthetics. Some invented fronds are considered to be intellectual properties under the law, while their inventors are granted plant patents with exclusive rights for reproduction and sales. These patent plants redefine the relationship between architecture and vegetal life. If transplants from European colonies once necessitated the development of architecture as contained environment, patented foliages from laboratories today absorb the logics of spatial and infrastructural systems. Such botanical facsimiles are designed for production lines, shipping boxes, and climatized rooms, challenging what we understand as “natural.”

The Patent Plants exhibition presents a care and signaling system for 18 houseplant varieties and explores the spatial and environmental conditions for their patentability. This system includes not only infrastructure for basic vegetal needs, but also a community of plant parents. Each patent plant on display here is under the care of a member from the School of Architecture. Visitors are encouraged to look at them through hand lenses and to draw them. As the anthropologist John Hartigan asserts in the essay “How to Interview a Plant,” drawing facilitates careful looking, which is the first step toward taking plants seriously.

Exhibition Assistants
Kyle Lenihan, Parker Vanderven, Tru Truong
Fall 2022, “Constructing Nature” Seminar
Vanessa Chica, Alexis Diaz, Spencer Ghobadian, Ian Goodale, William Herndon, Samuel Langer, Kyle Lenihan, Miao Luo, Emerald Man, Lia Margolis, Mariana Munoz, Quinn Pelichoff, Lauren Reichelt, Wendy Kexin Wang, Xiaoxuan Xu, Zhexu Yang, Shiji Zhang, Junye Zhong
Spring 2023: “Displaying Nature” Seminar
Roaa Alshehri, Brendan Carroll, Jack Chen, Andrea De Haro, Wenting Feng, Crystal Giard, Andrea Hoe, Houming Lu, Miao Luo, Jenna Merry, Catherin Kovalcik, Meejan Patel, Erin Splaine, Winnie Ngai Lan Tam, Neha Tummalapalli, Parker Vanderven, Xiaoxuan Xu
Spring 2023: “Manuals for Human-Plant+X Interactions” Visiting Critic Studio
Kelly Chan, Joshua Fellows, Emily Herr, Gretchen Hundertmark, Anup Adhikrao, Emily Lane, Daniela Llaguno Garcia, Terry Luo, Erin O’Daniel, Dingkun Qian, Tru Thruong, Violet Wong, Congshuo Zhang

Special thanks to Michael Speaks, Kyle Miller, Michael Giannattasio, John Bryant, Andy Molloy, Daryl Olin, Beth Pierson, Kristin Shapiro, Julie Sharkey, Ken Meier, Samantha Vasseur, and LariAnn Garner.

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This event was published on September 15, 2023.

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