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Artist David Bowen is giving a philodendron control in his fascinating installation called Plant Machete. This plant machine has the unique capability to wield a giant knife. It sounds like the work of science fiction, however, the creative’s interest in robotics has culminated in a control system that “reads and utilises the electrical noises found in a live philodendron.” The entire robot arm is control by the living plant which acts as the brain. The plant determines how the machete swings, jabs, and slices into the space around it. The incredible invention is attached to a was with sensors connected to the leaves. The leaves then send signals to custom-crafted software which maps the movements to the joints of the arm and the knife. Bowen shared a video of the piece in action. It is incredible to know that the robot’s actions is dictated not by humans or AI, but by a houseplant.

Bowen stated, “With robotics, custom software, sensors, telepresence, and data, I construct devices and situations that are set in motion to interface with the physical, virtual, and natural world. The devices I construct often play both the roles of observer and creator, providing limited and mechanical perspectives of dynamic situations and living systems…The phenomenological outputs are collaborations between the natural form or function, the mechanism, and the artist.”

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