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Let’s open another little retrospective to explain a project we believe could be an ancestor of the modern Seed Bomb, a common practice of Guerrilla Gardening, which we already described in this post.

The project is part of a wider collection, Eco Redux, which is the name given to an archive collecting “architectural” projects and thinkings which appeared in the 60’s and 70’s, from sketches to more complex manuals, mainly trying to redefine the notions of “shelter” and “habitat”. Some of them are maybe just fashionable “anti-buildings”, as Peter Cook of Archigram thought about many projects of those years described as a “conglomeration of environmental elements”. But we believe we can see an effort to propose experimental techniques that go beyond architecture and design, to reach the level of performances or installations, mainly for the radical connection between materials and time, in a dynamic use of the succesive stages of formation.

As an example, we can bring the Chesterfield Armchair (1964-65) or the Grow Your Own Furniture (1973, recently reproposed in this version)

But what we would expecially like to bring to your attention is a project named Artificial Burrs, from the designers James Harold and Jolan Truan. In 1968, they invented a foldable small biodegradable plastic structure imitating the “hook mechanism” of particular kinds of seeds. These objects are capable of combining in order to create a dam of vegetation through time thanks to seeds and an hydrotropic nutrient solution spread over their surface.

The original goal for which this particular design was achieved was stopping the erosion cycle in arid areas through aerial distribution of the macroseeds, a practice already known since 1930. But what we suggest is considering this object as an earlier prototype of the modern Seed Bomb, which included also few intresting design characteristics like the hooks and the folding structure, that would maybe be interesting to re-propose in the current practice of Guerrilla Gardening.

Images taken from the Eco Redux archive

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The Guerrilla Gardening phenomenon is slowly getting known and media are starting to get interested. But what is exactly the Guerrilla Gardening? It is said that is a spontaneous movement, kept on by common people who, tired of the decay of their streets, meet trying to revalue urban or suburban abandoned spaces through unauthorized gardening actions. The first group who recognized itself under this definition was born in London in 2004, thanks to Richard Reynolds.

The movement has no leader or manifesto, every group of activists is free to act in its own way and is autonomous from the others. However, there are actually some forms of “green attack” which are more common. The seed bombs, for instance, are little “bombs” made by wet soil, gritty compost and flowers’ seeds.  They have been created for he first time in 1970 by the activists of Green Guerrillas in New York. A renewed form of seed bombs are the Seed Guns, a work of the artists/activists Christopher Humes and Noah Scalin, who, in 2004, gave them the shape of 9 mm gun: red clay powder, dry organic humus compost, seed mixture and water are the ingredients of this peaceful weapon.

Image taken from blog.alrdesign.com

Seed Gun wants to be a memorial for all the homicide’s victims dead in Richmond, Virginia, place of birth of the two artists. But, beside from the meaning that the artist wants to attribute to his work, what is most interesting is the perfect fusion between a gardening instrument and an artwork. The concept of weapon itself is shown from the shape and, at the same time, denied by its funcion. Soil and seeds express  the slow, respectful and nonviolent nature of Guerrilla Gardening.

Watching this work, people are looking at a gun, but this gun is nothing more than natural elements: this is somehow the same that René Magritte tried to express in Cecì n’est pas un pipe, where he upsets the ordinary way of looking at the reality, telling us that what we see is not a pipe and arguing the process which ties similarity and assertion.

Seed Gun was inspired by the philosophy of the japanese radical gardener Masanobu Fukuoka, who said “The ultimate goal of farming is not growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings”. This is exactly what the Guerrilla Gardening wants to do: improving our landscape, it improves, at the same time, ourselves.

Another interesting kind of seed bombs are the Seedbom: they have a grenade shape and one more time they express through an oxymoron their peaceful nature.

Anyone can create seed bombs thanks to manuals and instructions found in the web and join the GG battle. This is an open source urban intervention and, we believe, an open source kind of art.

Image taken from kabloo.co.uk