Corn EMO – Environmental Tech Art

Corn EMO


This responsive project was created for #ClimateDisrupted, a climate change art festival held in Philadelphia under CUSP (Climate Urban Systems Partnership). Through CUSP I was introduced to Daniel Bader, a research analyst with the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University. One of the surprising things I discovered in our conversations was the concern for our food crops. Our region is well known for corn and the volatility we are experiencing in weather is going to have repercussions. In Corn EMO, I imagine corn gradually morphing into a plant with communication skills, able to sense future weather forecasts. The corn does this communication through the silk on its forming cobs—yellow indicating clear weather and blue indicating rain. This is an Arduino project and through WiFi the corn actually gathers data on the next day’s forecast in order to create the LED color through the corn’s fiber optic silk.

Future Possibilities

We are already seeing robotic farming and the use of sensors. Although sensors are used to check moisture at different root levels separate from the plant, it would be interesting to hack a plant with embedded technology. Could corn protect itself from parasites or engage protection in severe weather by triggering certain actions? We are also at the point of using micro cameras in pills to monitor the human body, and I think it would be interesting to look at plants this same way. Imagine one seed in every pack with biotech.