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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. Although this may hold true in the very long term over some centuries, biodiversity is far from static and depends on a conjunction and equilibrium among elements. Unfortunately, Earth’s biodiversity is experiencing a steep reduction in plant diversity.

In the silent embrace of nature, one discerns not merely a passive message, but rather an impassioned plea, akin to a silent scream echoing through the wilderness. It crystallizes into form, at times taking on an animalistic guise, only to morph into a haunting semblance of humanity at others. This enigmatic form leaves the observer feeling utterly helpless, as they endeavor to decipher the cryptic language underlying the fractured dialogue between two disparate kingdoms.

Amidst this profound contemplation, the observer is inevitably confronted with the sobering reality of humankind's relentless assault on biodiversity. Across the globe, ecosystems are being pillaged, habitats destroyed, and species driven to the brink of extinction by the heedless actions of humanity. The once vibrant tapestry of life is unraveling before their eyes, biodiversity severed by the callous hand of exploitation and neglect. As the silent plea of nature echoes ever louder, it serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for humanity to reassess its relationship with the natural world and strive towards a path of restoration and harmony.

Centuries ago, paintings, engravings, and drawings by European artists depicted the New World as an exuberant and seemingly boundless landscape, teeming with life and abundance. On the other hand, it was also portrayed as a wild environment in need of taming, cultivation, and evangelization. Today, if these artists were to revisit the landscapes they once depicted with such awe, they would likely encounter a vastly different scene – one marred by monoculture, aggressive real estate and logging, deforestation, pollution, and the irreversible loss of biodiversity. The glaring disparity between past depictions and present realities illustrates the consequences of humanity's exploitation and disregard for the natural world.

Above all, agriculture based on global markets generated by gigantic conglomerates favors monocultures. Monocultures represent the main threat to biodiversity and paradoxically to nutrition. More than fifty percent of the crops are used to feed intensive livestock farming. It is crucial to explore into this agrochemical-dependent agriculture characterized by cultivating a single crop over large expanses that depletes soil health and disrupts natural ecosystems. The damage inflicted by monoculture extends far 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, it becomes paramount to encourage sustainable agricultural practices that prioritize biodiversity and mitigate its adverse effects, promoting a more resilient and ecological food production system, besides preserving culture, medicine potential and high nutrition value. 
 
Species are currently vanishing before we can fully understand their characteristics. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species assessments 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 and animations.

 

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. 

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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