Marcela Armas, Arcángelo Constantini: Milpa Polímera




 
  • ©2017, Marcela Armas and Arcángelo Constantini, Milpa Polímera

Artist(s):


Title:


Milpa Polímera

Exhibition:


SIGGRAPH 2017: Unsettled Artifacts: Technological Speculations from Latin America

Creation Year:


2017

Category:


Performance

Artist Statement:


Milpa Polímera (Polymer Cornfield) (2013) is a 3D open-source printer modified to function as a tractor that plows seeds made out of polylactic acid (PLA), a thermoplastic biopolymer made from corn. The printer-tractor is fixed by an axis to a closed cycle in which the machine is only able to perform a single repetitive and absurd task: print artificial corn seeds and sow them into the soil.

Like the never-ending loop in which this tractor-printer operates, the work is a manifestation of a series of contradictory relations between the natural and the artificial, as well as other conflicting narratives of patents, open-source technologies, and free knowledge.

The machine was constructed using the first generation of MakerBot, an open-code 3D printer developed by a community of enthusiasts who selflessly supported the advancement of this technology. Nevertheless, soon after it achieved enormous success, MakerBot Industries terminated its open-code printer production and entered the patent market. At the same time, the PLA used as the machine’s main production material is a thermoplastic obtained from cornstarch, processed by a genetically modified bacteria. The corn used to produce this polymer is itself transgenic patented, which paradoxically contradicts the very origins of corn: a seed domesticated about 10,000 years ago by a collective civilization whose cosmogony and culture saw it as a shared source of life.

The Milpa Polímera tractor is trapped inside a perverse cycle whose logic is strictly economic and market-driven, planting infertile seeds that are unable to germinate. Thus it exposes the system behind the control of life and knowledge, which radically negates the origins of corn and the original milpa crop-growing system.

Other Information:


Milpa Polímera was originally conceived for Sin Origen/Sin Semilla, curated and directed by María Antonia González Valerio and Liliana Quintero as part of the research group BIOS Ex MachinA. English translations of texts by Tere Carter.