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emerging technologies

Spore 1.1

A physical computing project that creates an ecosystem for a rubber tree, where conditions for life or death are controlled by monitoring fluctuations in the price of Home Depot stock. The plant was purchased from The Home Depot, so the project is eligible for the company's one-year return policy if the tree dies.

Art and Science

Spore 1.1 makes visible the artificiality of our immediate reality by relating the stock market to the ecosystem. Using small-form-factor computing, microcontrollers, and custom software, the life of a plant is controlled with data typically used to monitor the life of a corporation.


The primary goal of the project was to find creative expression within a system of control that is systematically monitored through globalization, the growth of multinational corporations, and the loss of heterogeneity and market-driven economies. Another goal was to produce a visually engaging work that shows the familiar form of a potted plant encased within a cybernetic environment that reads as simultaneously unpleasant and bound, yet balanced and harmonious.


Spore 1.1 derives creative expression from, and visually exposes, a growing system of control that has steadily been replacing heterogeneous market-driven economies. These systems (or multinational corporations) employ a variety of strategies in the name of consumer freedom (liberal return policies, etc.) but forcefully act as consumer-control mechanisms on the macroscopic level.


Spore 1.1 will continue indefinitely. The tree has already died twice and been replaced. New Spore projects are in progress, utilizing physical computing technology and data mined from economies of scale to affect living organisms. Spore 2.0 will use wireless internet signals to encourage slime mold growth in urban settings.


Doug Easterly
Syracuse University
playfight (at)


Matt Kenyon
SUNY Fredonia