From the beer we drink to the polio vaccine, humankind has a symbiotic relationship with all sorts of micro-organisms—but we we tend to not think of them as our roommates. Living Things is a new exhibition by Jacob Douenias and Ethan Frier of the Mattress Factory that imagines the home of the near future, in which human beings have integrated bubbling tanks of edible luminescent algae into their mid-century-inspired furniture.
Currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh until March 27, the Living Things exhibit isn’t quite as gross or outré as it sounds. It’s made up of three rooms—a kitchen, a living room, and a dining room—which prominently contain glass vessels of algae, connected to one another by a half-mile of plumbing and wiring. Douenias and Frier call this photosynthetic furniture. The vessels are wired to both heat and light the room; in doing so, they also cause the algae within the tanks to grow, pumping oxygen into the room. Eventually, the algae grows so thick it can be harvested, and even eaten.
The Living Things exhibition imagines a future in which all of our furniture has turned photosynthetic.
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