The Luminous Science project started through an exploration by Lila Finch into how we could represent the biochemical processes of a plant using a new representational structure of a Nebuta-style lantern. Specifically we grew plants using hydroponic gardening techniques, collected and analyzed data using sensors, video, images, and hands-on measurements, and then translated that data into an artistic representation that told us about the biology, chemistry, and health of the garden.
In the first prototype of the project we built a large wooden support structure to hold three levels of hydroponic gardens. We used an ebb-and-flow system on all three levels. We have grown an assortment of different plants: basil, coleus, lavender, marigolds, tomatoes, lettuce, and thyme. The plants grew so well that the coleus, and later the tomatoes, had to be removed and replanted elsewhere. We had a very fruitful crop of basil that continually was harvested and grew for over eight months.
We used a combination of BlockyTalky and weather:bit sensors to collect data and transmit that data wirelessly to a variety of data physicalizations (see below). We used a micro:bit in the garden connected to our sensor units to transmit data, via the micro:bit radio, from the garden to another micro:bit where that information could be used as desired. We are constantly adding new sensors and data storage capabilities to BlockyTalky and new sensor drivers for the micro:bit in the hopes to soon be able to examine more scientific details of the garden.