Michael Lucenkiw

Artist . Designer . Researcher . Maker

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Cyborg Plant

Born out of my thesis, Flora Machina, the cyborg plant is the physical manifestation of theories and ideas that examine a landscape connected intimately with sensory technology. The cyborg plant is a living Jade Plant inserted into a clear enclosure that houses several sensors, a processor and speakers. Once connected to a computer, the sensors feed information from the plant and the environment and are transcribed into an audio expression. The most important sensor of the cyborg plant is the bio-electric sensor that collects the small voltage changes inside the plant. This signal represents internal communications between parts of the plant and report changes in the the plants physiology and environment. The sounds emitted from the cyborg plant allow people to perceive the internal activity of the plant, something we are not able to perceive easily. The goal of the cyborg plant project is to empower flora and adapt them to the a highly anthropomorphic landscape. The up most care was taken to avoid giving the plant human like qualities. This represents the latest iteration of the cyborg plant. I hope to have the cyborg plant adapted to work independent of a laptop and in an outdoors environment.
The Electrosmog Detector

This project stems from an interest in making un-perceivable things in our landscapes perceivable using devices as an intermediary to extend the sense of the human body. We intend to highlight the amount of radio frequency (RF) based energy that passes through a given space, such as that from radio towers, cell phones and other radio frequency emitting devices. Without the aid of a receiver, this radio energy cannot be heard or seen yet it exists all around us. Most of this energy is generated as a result of human activity, although some is from naturally occurring phenomena such as lightening. This energy will be measured and transcribed into audio output and visual feedback. Through this feedback, we will be able to understand how much RF energy is passing through our environment in the immediate area while encouraging interaction and play with this energy.

Changing the way we perceive forgotten spaces; this was the driving idea behind "Circuit". By occupying a back alley with objects, my colleagues and I gave a new sense of place to the existing space. Installed for the Nuit Blanche festival in Winnipeg, Circuit transformed an alley, normally ignored and thought of as dirty, into a surreal dream. Using lanterns suspended above the alley and a reactive sound installation, the alley allowed the visitors' imagination to take beyond the preconceived associated with back alleys in Winnipeg. The lanterns slowly swayed in the wind. The four colour led's inside painted a the white covers. A microphone collected the sound level of the street and used that data to increase the intensity of a music composition being projected into the alley. The alley itself acted as a gateway between two other installations presented as part of Nuit Blanche.
Garden of Eden

The studio project began as an exploration of how sensory technology could be integrated in the landscape to facilitate and interactive environment. The resulting project used the idea of performance, scoring and sensors which used environmental process to generate variation in a live narrative that would unfold in the site. This hypothetical project was located at the quadrangle on the University of Manitoba Fort Garry Campus. The trees the lined the pathways were affixed with "entities"; small light and sound emitting sensor packets that acted as shapeless beings inhabiting the forest. The behaviours of the entities were affected in two ways; changes in light and temperature; and, changes the flow of people through the space. This behaviour was script out by a loose scoring inspired by composer John Cage. This project revealed the complexity of dealing with live data in an unpredictable environment and how to engage with people and the environment connected through sensory technology.