by Soft Turns

When, in 2016, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly proclaimed the first flower, a Zinnia, had recovered from a bout of unknown mold and bloomed in space, he was soon corrected: Arabidopsis thaliana had already flowered in 1982, aboard the Soviet Salyut 7 (grown by a cosmonaut who enjoyed its taste in salad).

A small flowering plant, Arabidopsis thaliana is generally considered a weed, and grows readily in sandy soils and disturbed habitats such as roadsides and railway lines. Despite its diminutive size, A. thaliana has become one of the most important research models in plant biology, valued for its ease of care, short life cycle, fecundity, and small genome. Being the subject of countless biological trials, A. thaliana has accumulated many ‘firsts’- first plant to have its genome sequenced, first to complete a full life cycle and produce seed in space, and in May 2022, the first plant to grow in lunar soil.

Here, an image of A. thaliana exhibits the results of exposure to a ‘digital mold’ – a cascading photoshop resizing glitch discovered by the artists. For those interested in participating in a community seeding of Arabidopsis, a limited number of seed packets are available at the Studios at Assembly Park. Please share your growing experience with the hashtag: #arabidopsisAssemblyPark

Soft Turns

Soft Turns (Sarah Jane Gorlitz and Wojciech Olejnik) is a Canadian collaborative artist duo. Employing found objects, common materials, D.I.Y. methods, and experimentation, they work in multiple media, with a tendency towards site-specific installation, video and stop-motion animation. Current interests include: controlled artificial environments such as greenhouses and data centres, plant-human interactions, and the physics of information. They would like to thank the Artist Residency at the School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph.

Soft Turns’ installation is part of the Assembly Park Outdoor Art Gallery, which includes works by 8 artists/artist teams exploring the theme of transition and the ways we form community within states of change.