The Botanica series, commissioned by PLART—an Italian foundation devoted to research on plastics (and resins—investigates the prehistory of synthetic polymers, focusing on the age of inquiry and experimentation that preceded our current era of oil dependency. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, natural polymers were extracted from plants and animal derivatives using new scientific approaches. The works in this series incorporate some of the earliest polymers known, such as rosin, dammar, copal (a sub-fossil state of amber), natural rubber, shellac (a polymer extracted from insect excrement), and bois durci (a nineteenth-century material composed of wood dust, pigment, and animal blood). Botanica is thus an archaeological record of radical scientific discovery that again has revolutionary potential as humankind searches for alternative materials and methods of production in the wake of global warming and environmental distress.
Gallery label from This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good, February 14, 2015–January 31, 2016.