Marissa Lee Benedict
Curated by Torkwase Dyson for the School of the Artist Institute of Chicago’s Sculpture Department (Chicago, US).
Sited in the street-level window front of SAIC’s new Leroy Neiman Student Center, at the heart of an educational institution in a constant state of flux and growth, Matriculated MicroMatrix Farm (MMMF) is a hydroponic experiment playfully fusing the past, present and future potential of soilless gardening.
Drawing a parallel between the uprooted/transplanted nature of SAIC’s student body and the pedagogical role of an educational institution, MMMF modeled a variety of hydroponic growing system (ebb and flow systems, top feeding, etc.) to sustain a rotating sampling of "exotic" herbs and vegetables.
While the piece physically cycled nutrient rich water through a matrix of tubes and drains, its structure and sculptural framework conceptually rearticulate the “Whole System” based philosophy of Buckminster Fuller and the Whole Earth Catalog by employing the propositional forms and architectures of Ken Isaac’s 1974 utopian manual How to Build Your Own Living Structures. The simplicity of Isaac’s design lent itself to both past and present utopian ideals; the triangular “Lunar Lander” legs of Isaac’s Microhouse become reinvested with meaning in a contemporary context as the privatization of space takes off and companies such as Odyssey Moon and Paragon Space plan to launch the first lunar greenhouse by 2015. Operating upon the complexities of site, context and content, MMMF embodied the ongoing draw towards the simultaneous sense of fragility and limitless potential of soilless, hydroponic agriculture.