What are those psychedelic, multicolored bubbles above? Bio-artist and designer Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg explains:
The puffball-type mushrooms are actually membrane pumps that would suddenly erupt on the tree thats been infected with the pathogen that causes sudden oak death. So they’re very carefully designed pumps which would then inject serum into the tree.
They’re part of a series of works by Ginsberg called Designing for the Sixth Extinction, which proposes ways in which synthetic, human-designed and -engineered life could promote biodiversity, and, in Ginsberg’s words, possibly “save nature.”
In addition to the serum-dispensing mushroom orbs, there are also seed-scattering porcupines, gluten-trapping tree leaves, and slugs with alkali slime that neutralizes acidic soil.
In Ginsberg’s vision, companies would design, engineer, and patent living things just like any other products. To ensure that this bio-engineered life didn’t take over the world, a “kill switch” would be included, ensuring each creature could only reproduce a certain number of times.
How close are these works to reality? “There’s a scientist who I showed this to and she said it’s already happening. It’s happening not at the level of organisms but with bacteria; the concept of releasing things into the wild to preserve nature,” Ginsberg tells Dezeen. “She said you’re too close to reality. I’m not proposing this as the future but it’s meant to highlight these questions.”