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MicroNature Station

Speculative Design


Immersive Experience

Physical Computing (Pi, Arduino)

Python, Arduino Programming Lang. 

Scent Design

MicroNature Station is a mixed-media speculative installation that leverages physical computing, biodesign, and auditory, haptic, and olfactory experiences to explore the future of our relationship with advanced technology and the natural world.

The piece is the material realization of a more extensive research-driven speculative exercise that hypothesized a future besieged by climate change-induced extreme weather. It suggests that as the natural world becomes more unpredictable, humans will seek “natural” sensations through highly-controlled, technologically-mediated experiences rather than risking time outdoors. The material work uses physical computing and biodesign to create a series of auditory, olfactory, and haptic experiences designed to evoke the sensation of standing on soil after a summer rain.


As a critical speculative design, the installation hopes to inspire questions about the boundary between naturalness and artificiality, the trajectory of advanced technology, and the ways in which climate change may affect how we engage with the world around us. 

Contributing Team: 

Sukayna Elhani, Erin Cross, Robert Richard (Glass Fabrication)

Florencia Lechin (Lighting Consultant)

Questions under artistic consideration:

How do we decide what is natural and what is artificial?

What do we gain and lose from a human-centered relationship to the biosphere?

What is our bodies' evolutionary relationship to wild environments?

How are we somatically and sensorially affected by modern, conditioned, and urban surrounds?

How might technological convenience and climate change shift how we access, interpret and engage with multisensorial joy?

Creative Process:

MicroNature Station began as a series of speculative exercises around a future world in which climate change and advancing technology continues unabated. Once I developed the concept  I began rounds of biomaterial and scent design experiments to create surface textures and fragrances that would evoke the feeling of being outdoors.

I also worked with a number of different physical computing components, including Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, infrared sensors, and Servo Motors to find the combination that offered seamless, intuitive interactions. I also designed a custom wire structure to facilitate an easy spray mechanism.

I then made a series of prototyped structures, large and small, out of cardboard, paper, and other household objects to test sensor and mechanism locations, plinth height and depth, and to zero in on a form that invited easy engagement but still suggested a future, less familiar, technologically-mediated world.

I designed to the final form to be a sleek, streamlined shape that asks individuals to interact with it one at a time — a structure and function that is appropriate for the speculative world for which it was built. The user experience of the MicroNature Station is designed to be transportive, evoking the scent, sound, and feelings of standing on soil after a summer rain. After their experience, curious individuals walk around the back of the structure, where I created a  transparent section to display the technologies that underpinned the "natural" experience they just had.

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