Materialising the Energy Cycle of Plants/ Eriko Takeno

Eriko Takeno


I created the following pieces to visualise the concept of energy circulation from plant waste, for instance, leaves and vegetables. To me this circulation feels like an optical illusion that shows different routes of energy circulation depending on how it is looked at, how it is placed and so on. Whichever way it is looked at each route will always be connected to next point, so that it generates an eternal circulation. The optical illusion as metaphor is important here, because the energy circulation created by plant waste is usually displayed as a quantitative output but I propose we can understand and appreciate this cycle more if it is displayed using art and design-based methods.


The brief was to think about an object (in my case plant waste) in terms of its relationship with other objects, within history, and also in connection to me, then to make these connections visible.

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Visualising the cycle of energy gained from plant waste

After that, the visualisation I had produced had to be materialised. In the beginning I focused on the relationship between my object, the plant waste and myself and later moved onto its connection with history. In doing so the meaning of plant waste in history became a question for me.

What was interesting was that in terms of both epistemology and ontology,  plant waste can be seen to have an eternal and circulative element. By taking an ontological (the nature of being) approach to the topic, plant waste can be seen as an important element in creating nutrition for new coming plants. This in turn can be eaten by humans who will waste some elements and thus begin the cycle of nutrition again. Although, we cannot see this flow of energy and nutrition in the natural environment we are able to feel it, for example when we eat plants and feel energetic or full as a result. This feeling could in turn be interpreted as providing an epistemological (theory of knowledge) way of recognising this circulation.


Wooden sticks were glued together to visualise the concept outlined above, and although, my intention was to create a round shape, each wooden stick altered my intentions because of their properties/ nature.

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Materialisation of the cycle of energy gained from plant waste

As a result of undertaking this process I realised that my approach to objects incorporates my  upbringing in Japan, where Shintoism is deeply embedded into the culture. As a result of Shintoism I believe I felt comfortable to give up my initial intention of creating a circle and be comfortable with the form that emerged due to the nature of the matchsticks. In other words, I feel comfortable with the idea that objects, not only living beings exert their agency on this world; an opinion that also relates to ontological and epistemological understandings of research such as that outlines by object ethnography theory.


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