sLowlife: Plants in Motion

Growth

Roger Hangarter and Dennis DeHart. The mouse-eared cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) is arguably the most studied plant in the world. Its small size and rapid life cycle of about 50 days make it ideal for experimental investigation. In the year 2000 Arabidopsis was the first plant to have all of its genes sequenced. Studies of its genetic functions are transforming our understanding of the growth and development of plants from across the kingdom. The activity of many genes must be finely orchestrated for any organism to successfully grow, develop, and respond to its environment through all stages of life. The images sequenced here are from the movie Arabidopsis thaliana: A Life, which shows a single plant playing out its life from germination, through growth, flowering, and seed formation, to ensuing death.

101 Tropisms

Roger Hangarter and Dennis DeHart. The word tropism refers to plants’ turning movement in response to environmental stimulus. Time-lapse video is one way to observe and measure such phenomena. Here 101 videos of tropism of the mouse-eared cress are brought together to form an installation piece. The display presents a unique form of imaging both in its technique and as a system of observation. It employs a visual system in which the sum of the varying parts form a larger whole. As one spends time observing 101 Tropisms, a variety of patterns and phenomena become distinguishable. These patterns form the basis for a kind of visualization rooted in technology’s ability to amass information.