Hybrid Art

Anerkennung - Honorary Mentions

Dust Blooms: a research narrative in artistic ecology

Alexandra R. Toland (US)


Dust Blooms juxtaposes the beauty and function of urban flora using a synthesis of artistic and scientific methods to comment on the every-day importance of ecosystem services in cities. The transdisciplinary examination of the dust filtration capacity of flowers consists of 3 parts:

1) Field Work / Observation: The dust of seven spontaneous (i.e. wild, not planted) urban roadside plants were collected from flowers growing at the edges of heavily trafficked streets (>50,000 vehicles per day) in Berlin and analyzed using light microscopy to determine the type and amount of captured dust particles. An exhibition laboratory with three microscopes, prepared slides, a bound copy of laboratory protocols, maps, and statistical analysis allows visitors to follow the process of data collection and examine the dust-covered petal surfaces with their own eyes. A photographic journal documents data collection at street scale, flower scale, and microscopic petal-surface scale. A rectangular raised bed with the same 7 species is exhibited alongside photographs of the field-work.

2) Representation: Tiny details of historical illustrations from over 30 authors have been digitally "grafted" together and then made into engraving plates. A series of seven botanical engravings made from the very street dust collected on site and precious shell gold depict the evolution of graphic representation of these typical weedy species over 350 years.

3) Modelling: Sculptural prototypes based on the micro-morphological features of the Taraxacum (Dandelion) family were developed using materials sourced from consumer society: plastic dental brush sticks, microfiber wipes, polycarbonate screws, plastic clay, glitter, and granular resins. Actual atmospheric dust levels are simultaneously measured with Arduino-powered instruments integrated into the sculptures to transfer incoming data to open knowledge labs.


Alexandra Regan Toland

Alexandra Regan Toland (US/DE) is a visual artist and landscape planner based in Berlin. She earned an MFA from the Dutch Art Institute and PhD from the Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin (Department of Soil Protection). She was a recipient of a DFG fellowship from 2009 to 2013 and has lectured at the TU Berlin, Leuphana University, and the University of Arts Berlin. Her research interests include urban ecology, soil and biodiversity protection, participatory processes, and the Anthropocene.

Thanks to Dr. lna Säumel and Dr. Gerd Wessolek (TU Berlin Department of Ecology) for the use of their microscopes, laboratory, and traffic research data; to Dr. Ulrich Szewzyk (TUB Dept. of Environmental Microbiology) for support with macro- and microscope photography; Ulf Kypke-Burchardi and luftdaten.info for support with dust sensor instrumentation; plantgenera.org for multiple image sources; and the Kulturwerk BBK print studio in Berlin-Kreuzberg.
Support received from Museum Schloß Moyland, for the 2016 exhibition, Lasst Blumen Sprechen: Flowers and Artificial Nature since 1960