Living Canvas

Fara Peluso

Algae are our main oxygen producers on earth. They exist in nearly every ecosystem and contribute to the most fundamental biological processes on our planet. How can we as a society approach living organisms like algae beyond a mere scientific understanding but through their economic, political and creative potential? Which opportunities do algae thereby offer already today for an environmentally sustainable future? Are we ready to change our everyday conventions to face fresh and sustainable alternatives instead?

In the second exhibition of Field Experiments, STATE Studio presents the artistic research project Living Canvas composed of the installation Living Canvas and the workshop Algature by artist and designer Fara Peluso. Over the past two months, Fara Peluso worked closely with Solaga, a Berlin-based startup specialized in the use of algae for clean air, energy, as well as a range of sustainable design systems based on algae biofilm. Due to their effective CO2 assimilation and their ability to absorb indoor light, the microalgae organisms photosynthesize far more efficiently than plants and are hence regenerative energy systems. Supported by Solaga, Fara Peluso recontextualized this innovative biotechnology into a speculative design object. Presented as part of transmediale Vorspiel, Living Canvas is an experimental and prototype project which cultivates an energy-generating algae biofilm within a quadratic glass frame. Through the cutting-edge light and irrigation technology of the wall-mounted installation, the algae biofilm grows and metamorphoses in real-time in an open-ended three-month long experiment.

Fara Peluso’s work reflects a new social consciousness based on principles of sustainability and speculative design: “As part of a new design movement that has the power to influence society, I approach topics such as industry, nature and the environment with speculative design. I choose to practice speculative design because our ways of living in a possible future already tell us what kind of future we want.” During the Living Canvas installation, the algae biofilm is in porous interaction with the environment of the exhibition space and natural light and temperature cycles influencing the chlorophyll photosynthesis of the organisms. The organic process of Living Canvas produces a spectrum of aesthetic effects regarding size, color, pigmentation and other tangible qualities of the metamorphosing algae beyond its natural superpowers.

Living Canvas provides an opportunity to witness existing technical possibilities of integrating natural biological process into our consciousness that can inspire and orient our actions towards sustainability. In the participatory workshop Algature, Fara Peluso invites us to turn from being observers of biotechnological processes into their inventors and experimenters. Combining a DIY biology laboratory and a speculative design approach, participants in Algature are introduced to the Spirulina algae and learn about methods of creating not only speculative, but readily possible futures that involve new and emerging biotechnologies that immediately change the ways we understand regenerative processes today. The artistic research project encourages fresh-air-breathing participants to reflect upon previously unused regenerative powers. By raising awareness regarding the potentials of algae biofilm, the project also provokes participants to turn their imaginations towards more sustainable possible futures involving new biotechnologies.

The project is developed in partnership with Solaga and supported by innogy foundation.

Living Canvas Vernissage with an introduction by the artist, innogy foundation and Solaga engineers, 25 January 2019, 6:30 pm
Algature Workshop, 29 January 2019, 6:30 pm
Living Canvas, Saturday 26 January, 12 – 5 pm, 28 January – 15 April 2019, Tue – Fr 12 am – 7 pm
Living Canvas Finissage and Artist Talk, tba

More information about the opening, workshop and upcoming events will be announced at


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