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Parsons School of Design MFA Design and Technology program theses2020 ➔ A Mile In Their Roots: Plant Perception & Breaking through Anthropocentrism


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Carolina Melo (designer)
Harpreet Sareen (thesis advisor)
Loretta Wolozin (thesis advisor)


March 3 2020


While most people are familiar with the five human senses, few know about the more complex sixth and seventh ones. The former, called the vestibular sense, is concerned with the perception of bodily position and motion. In other words, our balance and coordination center. The latter, known as proprioception, refers to our internal awareness of every part of our body in space. It hardly seems a coincidence that we are less familiar with the senses that don’t have a straightforward corresponding bodily organ, unlike the other five: I have eyes that allow me to see; I have a nose that allows me to smell; I have ears that allow me to hear; etc. This lack of straightforward organ-equivalence is precisely the case for plants and all of their intricate senses, which might be somewhat responsible for why they seem so foreign. An element that further alienates us from them is the drastically different timescale in which they operate. A Mile In Their Roots looks to achieve a new level of perspective taking by presenting a series of poems “authored” by plants, as imagined by me. Each poem is imagined to be narrated by a different plant species with its own unique connection to a sense, as backed by scientific research and/or my personal experimentations respectively. In my choice of senses, I’ve focused on three that we know well (sight, scent, and touch), one that we are largely unfamiliar with (proprioception), and one that is an additional proposed sense both humans and plants use to perceive and navigate through life (time). Furthermore, the poetry is accompanied by a digital interaction that allows a user to “decode” the displayed written text, as if its origin were from an unknown source or foreign language.

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