Inspired by the creation of transgenic tobacco plants that glow with the genes of fireflies, I endowed this cactus with a pulsating glow. It is a speculation as to what might be possible in the new plant species of the future. Beyond the creation of visual aesthetics or economically engineered species, I imagine a plant that responds to humans and conveys emotions in ways understandable by us. This cactus is engineered to elicit empathy from humans, presumably so that we will be compelled to take care of it. Its signal to us is a pulsating, glowing heartbeat that speeds up as a person comes near it. If the cactus is touched, its pulsing behavior changes to a frenetic flashing.

  • Engineered for Empathy 1999
  • Dimensions 24" x 19" x 12"
  • Medium Live Mammillaria Elongata Monstrosus cactus, clay, soil, wood and electronics - including LEDs, microprocessor and Qprox proximity sensor from the Quantum Research Group
  • Exhibited G2 Gallery, Chicago, IL