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PLANT

Debora Hirsch

 

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”

Georgia O'Keeffe

 

Plants represent the transitory nature of life and death, but they are also symbols of fertility, prosperity, regeneration, rebirth, and renewal in the cosmic cycle of Nature. Mario Peixoto, the author of ‘Limit,’ considered one of the most significant masterpieces in the history of Brazilian cinema, used to convey that ‘Any human action against Nature is useless.’ The Romans believed that Man may change, but Nature remains the same.

Biodiversity however is far from static.

Biodiversity depends on a conjunction and equilibrium among elements. Unfortunately, Earth’s biodiversity is experiencing a steep reduction in plant diversity.

 

Agriculture based on global markets generated by gigantic conglomerates favors monocultures. Monocultures represent the main threat to biodiversity. It is crucial to delve into the ecological impact of monoculture, a prevalent practice in agrochemical-dependent agriculture.

Monoculture, characterized by cultivating a single crop over large expanses, poses a substantial threat to depleting soil health and disrupting natural ecosystems. The damage inflicted by monoculture extends beyond the immediate agricultural context, affecting broader ecosystems and wildlife. The simplified landscape created by large-scale monoculture destroys habitats essential to various species. As we navigate the complexities of the agrochemical supply chain, addressing the environmental ramifications of monoculture becomes paramount.

Encouraging sustainable agricultural practices that prioritize biodiversity can mitigate these adverse effects and promote a more resilient and ecologically sound food production system, besides preserving culture.

 

Species with potential value as food, medicine, fibers, or for their ecological roles are vanishing before we can fully understand their characteristics. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is the global gold standard for assessing species’ extinction risk. Plants are classified into categories: Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, Least Concern, or Data Deficient. Assessments like the IUCN Red List play a crucial role in providing valuable guidance in establishing protected areas, allocating funds, and influencing decisions like avoiding activities that could harm endangered species. Despite being the most comprehensive source on global extinction risk, the Red List covers only approximately 6% of the estimated 2.1 million plants, fungi, and animals.

 

Following the protocols of the blockchain that define a space protected from destruction, manipulation, and the passing of time, I decided to bring to life and preserve nearly extinct plants within the realm of AI and physical painting.

 

In my research PLANT, endangered species are being recorded on the blockchain, granting them an eternal virtual existence and serving as a symbolic memory of what we have lost and what we risk losing.

 

I paint fragments as they are more eloquent to present my statement, giving a sense of the complexity of natural systems and the interrelation of its parts. I began with acrylic paint, ink, and paper, and then I moved to digital. I use a pre-trained AI model that I fine-tune to my datasets. I produce digital outcomes to later use them in my compositions.

 

I am not aiming at literal interpretations of the selected plant species, these remain as merely references. Plant compositions may include frames, caves, landscapes, architecture details, monolithic birds, that altogether emphasize the complexity of interconnections that belong to ecosystems evoking the delicate equilibrium and transience of nature. Birds have significance as messengers, a conduit between sky and earth, and they also represent the soul. The plant representation lacks seasonal consistency to favor their most typical and recognizable elements.

 

The context is not descriptive of the plant’s real ecosystem. My plants know no borders; they live in imaginary worlds. The plants have clear and special presence in the composition, and a high visual relevance as the true protagonists of the scene.

 

My decision on which plants to represent hinges upon a range of factors, including available information about their history, utility, the cause of their extinction, but above all, their beauty or peculiarity, to make my rendition artistically and aesthetically intriguing.

 

In the process of elaborating these images, the representation is deliberately abundant. This collection is open and can constantly be enriched with some other endangered species, ultimately reinforcing the message of the PLANT series, linked to the fragility of the flora and the neglect with which it is often treated. 

 

Some of these plants have found representation in Roman bucolic frescoes and medieval recreations of the primordial paradise. A few of the chosen plants are only known through descriptions and a few remaining visual records of their existence. In these cases, and based on these materials, I recreate images that take us back in time, offering a glimpse into an imaginary lost world.

 

With this project, and through beauty and harmony, I aim to bring attention to the loss of biodiversity and valuable ecological resources essential to our physical existence, balance, and spiritual development.

 

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