The Pollinator Pathmaker project has opened its third public edition in the gardens around London’s Serpentine Galleries, following installations at Cornwall’s Eden Project and Berlin’s Light Art Space.
At the same time, people are invited to participate in their private gardens, by using the Pollinator Pathmaker online tool to create a planting plan tailored to their plot.
Hyde Park’s Kensington Gardens are home to a new edition of Pollinator Pathmaker
The work is intended to raise awareness about the decline in pollinators, which as well as bees includes butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles and other species that are essential for plant reproduction and ecosystem survival.
At the same time, Ginsberg aims for the project to build empathy with other species.
“I wanted to make art for pollinators, not about them,” said Ginsberg. “Pollinator Pathmaker is an ambitious art-led campaign to make living artworks for other species to enjoy.”
The garden is designed by an AI and optimised to attract the most pollinator species
Ginsberg sees Pollinator Pathmaker as encoding empathy into an algorithm, in this case by defining empathy as a design that would support as many pollinator species as possible.
She worked with horticulturalists at the Eden Project, which first commissioned the project, along with pollinator experts and Google Arts & Culture to develop the digital tool.
It asks the user to input information about the size and conditions of their plot, and then play with the “empathy” sliders to choose whether they want more or fewer plant species, a bold or intricate pattern, and a flight path or patches.
Some pollinators, such as bees, learn and memorise an efficient route for themselves, so they would be drawn to the flight path, while other insects explore more randomly.
Anyone can use the online tool to make their own garden planting plan
The algorithm generates a different garden design each time, which users can see as a 3D visualisation composed of Ginsberg’s digital plant paintings. They can also see how it will change from season to season and what it looks like in “pollinator vision”.
To realise the garden design, they download planting instructions, which come complete with a certificate of authenticity for their editioned artwork.
The Serpentine Galleries’ version of the artwork fills a 227-metre-long area in Hyde Park’s Kensington Gardens with more than 60 species of plants. It is part of the institution’s newly opened Back to Earth programme, themed around the environmental emergency.
One of the features of the tool is that it lets you see your garden in “pollinator vision”
The garden is intended to be in place for two years, during which time the artist hopes to open further editions worldwide, using each commission as an opportunity to develop a new regional “plant palette” so the tool can be used in more locations.
“I hope we can create the largest ever climate-positive artwork together, by planting living artworks for pollinators around the world,” said Ginsberg.
Ginsberg’s art focuses on technological and environmental themes. Her past work has included Machine Auguries, which artificially recreates the dawn chorus of birds, and The Wilding of Mars, which explores what would happen if the red planet were colonised by plants and not humans.
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