GeoMerce: Turning Plants into Miners

author: Gionata Gatto
author: Katarina Vogel-Mikuš, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana
published: June 12, 2017,   recorded: May 2017,   views: 2920


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Certain plants, known as hyper-accumulators, are particularly good at absorbing heavy metals such as zinc, copper and nickel from the soil, and accumulating these metals in their leaves. The accumulated metals can be extracted by harvesting the plants’ leaves and burning the biomass, a process called phyto-mining. Starting from this notion, GeoMerce reimagines the way we think of agriculture. Since many metals are listed on international markets like the London Metal Exchange, fields and crops become financial assets and reservoirs of capital, here. In this installation, the process of metal absorption of selected plants is tracked and crossed-referenced with the real-time value of the accumulated metals. As a result, the value of the plants varies constantly according to the metals’ market value and the plants' performance. GeoMerce draws up a scenario in which the lines between agriculture and finance are blurred, and farming decisions are made according to both changes in financial markets and advances in science.

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