Developing narratives for invasive plant case studies

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


As I move forward with my project on invasive plant species in the Bay Area, I've spent more time thinking through how each of the narratives will be structured. I'd like to focus on the origin of each plant, and then highlight points over the last century when the species counts of affected native plant and animal populations have seen dramatic decreases (or increases, as efforts are made to restore native populations). In addition to tracking the rise and fall of observation counts, I want to draw attention to the these plants' physiology and morphology through diagrams and animations, for instance showing growth rate. I'd like, too, to showcase processes related to habitation and growth of affected species, for instance showing the rate of bank swallow burrow excavation.

Below are loose timelines for plants I'm profiling:


I've also begun to work on translating my design mockups to the development site, which can be seen here.

Below is a screenshot of that work in progress:


In addition to the spatio-temporal map I'm builing, I've been thinking about other ways that I can represent the invasion of these plants. Two thoughts have been creating generative art (possibly in processing or p5.js) that, at least to some extent, mimic the growth processes of the plants.

Another thought was to use origami to fold structural forms representing the plants, then embed LEDs inside those forms, which would perhaps grow dimmer or brighter depending on the number of people around the project, or some other constraint. I started looking at pre-existing origami patterns for plants and flowers to see if this might be viable. I created one origami lily, seen below, which took a considerable amount of folding.

Undertaking the origami structure would be more work than I anticipated. I'm now thinking about physicalizing the project, in a gallery setting, in some other way. I might bring in plants and connect them with Makey Makey, and require users to touch the plants for each corresponding case study to start playing. I have more work to do in thinking through this aspect of the project.