Martina Taranto created a composite material: 'Viral Nature', that is 84% organic and able to host life.
The material is fertile and easy to shape, as the mix can be employed to cast complex structures made to grow into living botanical sculptures.
The material, embedded with plant seeds, can be ‘programmed’ to hold or kick off the process of vegetal growth. It holds humidity maintaining the seeds sufficiently moist and absorbs water through capillarity. The formula of the composite mix is highly adaptable with elements local to a specific geographical zone to avoid potential ecological disruption.
For her graduation project for the Royal College of Art she envisioned two different applications for this material:
1. The Eco-virus is a proposal for a scalable intervention that aims to reduce the problem of desertification and soil degradation around the globe. Icosahedron-like structures behave like active ‘eco-viruses’. The pioneer plant seeds embedded in the blend find space and conditions to grow in the body of the designed shape; when mature the plants spread autonomously through the wind, contaminate the surrounding area with native wild vegetation and trigger a primary ecological succession: the first step to reach the ecological climax (forest, Mediterranean scrub, savannah...).
2. While growing the plants will slowly make the composite structure crumble, and when decayed, the plants and the host become humus to the soil. The structures, in their course of life, attract biodiversity, from earthworms to pollinators. This intervention aims to speed up the process of soil regeneration and increase the chances of success.
Text submitted by the maker
Plant seeds, composite
Accessible to visitors of the Future Materials Lab