Garden Lab Whispers Grow

I recently enjoyed very much working on the Garden Lab Whispers Grow project in collaboration with a group of disabled creatives and Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) in Bristol. Garden Lab Whispers Grow was one of 6 teams selected for Grounding Technologies, a pilot project from Bristol + Bath Creative R+D for exploring how creative technology can be used to support climate action.

Garden Lab workshop 1
“Nature relatedness has been found to be associated with reduced self-interest, more concern for the welfare of the environment, better physical and mental health, a meaningful life, and increased pro-environmental behaviour.”
Schultz 2001

Based in a local community allotment the group worked for 3 months on two families of experiments exploring how nature connectedness relates to climate action and creative technologies. The team co-designed a macrostick, a device enabling a wheelchair user to observe and take extreme close-up photographs at ground level. Another microscope was mounted on a remote-controlled snail-inspired vehicle. Creative technology is here applied for improving access to and visualisation of small scale natural elements.


The second strand of experiments were based on mud batteries, aka microbial fuel cells, a technology that I have worked with for some time (for example the Singing Compost collaboration with AHrun Morrison). The mud batteries capture the electrons emitted by certain electrogenic bacteria in the soil and produce a small electrical current as a result, that can be made tangible with light and sound. This technology is very useful for revealing an otherwise invisible activity by non-human beings in the soil, crucial for life on the planet as well as to start conversations about the importance of microbes, dirt, weeds, non-extractive energy generation, empathy with non-human beings.


We ran workshops for disabled creatives, for the after school club in the allotment and for an open day at KWMC.
The project finished with a showcase of the 6 Grounding Technologies teams at the Pervasive Media Studio, Watershed in Bristol. This was a very inspiring and dynamic presentation of inventive and current applications of creative tech to diverse aspects of climate action.


Garden Lab Whispers Grow team: Paul Granjon, Annali Grimes, Ruth Hennell, Oliver Woods, Daisy Hunter


• Check the videos for the other Grounding Tech projects, playlist here
KWMC’s project page on Garden Lab Whispers Grow
• Grounding Technologies project page
• Video stream of the final Grounding Tech showcase (Garden Lab at 01:47:00)