The Data Garden

Grow Your Own Cloud (GYOC) re-imagines the cloud by storing data nature’s way, in the DNA of plants. The initiative seeks to create a new type of cloud, one that is organic, rather than silicon, and which emits oxygen rather than CO2. This involves state of the art DNA data science, a technology which has the potential to store all of the world’s data in just 1 kg of DNA.

The latest implementation of the project is a contemporary Data Garden, a new type of data infrastructure that promotes unification between people, ecosystems and technology. The installation features plants encoded with data. The encoding process involves converting digital data such as text, JPEGs and MP3s into a biological format, DNA, using ACGT rather than binary.  

Within the installation, the plants’ DNA is decoded in real time using the latest genetic sequencing technologies, and displayed in space, revealing hidden messages. Working with nature to alleviate the threat of ‘data warming‘, the Data Garden invites visitors to experience a new materiality around data, and explore a world in which data storage is truly green, and exists as an accessible public resource that is shareable within communities.

The Data Garden is a constructed organism that combines not only biological and technological elements, but produces an immersive, constantly changing environment, in which humans and nonhumans learn, evolve and grow.  This type of plant-based data centres allow organisms of various types to flourish, marrying principles of working with nature and data, to create a self-sufficient plant-data ecosystem.

Monika Seyfried is a Researcher at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design with a background in art, photography and filmmaking. Cyrus Clarke is a speculative designer and technologist who can usually be found exploring futures. Their work engages at the intersection of emerging technologies, digital media and the natural environment, creating sensory rich, interactive spaces. Their passion is to build immersive experiences, mixed reality worlds that blend the digital and physical, working with a speculative mindset. Their current research topics are The Future of Nuclear Fusion Energy, Blockchain in Education, Ethics in Design, and Plant-based Data Storage. Their work has been exhibited in several cities across the globe, including UK, USA, Beijing, Paris, Copenhagen, Linz and Zagreb. Both teach Design.

The installation is a collaboration between the artists Cyrus Clarke (UK) and Monika Seyfried (PL) and scientist Jeff Nivala (US), supported by Unlisted Projects (US), The Museum of Human Achievement (US), Statens Kunstfond, Roskilde Festival (DK) and Catch (DK).

Data Garden development and credits:
Architecture – abNormal (Matteo, Davide, Luigi)
Design – Seyfried Studio (Krzysztof, Kuba, Olek)
Fabrication – Mike Hart, Rachael Starbuck, Ted Carey
Photos – Monika Seyfried
Video – Joseph Postiglione
Data Garden User in Video – Sarah Rose Knight | @growyourowncloud