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Experimental Design

Sijia Xie

Sijia Xie is a multimedia artist/designer working at the intersection of art and science. She is passionate about identifying social, cultural and environmental issues and taking them as a starting point to constructrate alternative futures. She uses speculative design as a tool for creating critical interventions and discourse.

Her main motivation arises from the curiosity about possible futures. She believed that through imagining possible futures we can expand our understanding of how to tackle complex issues.

Before joining the Information Experience Design MA at Royal College of Art, she received a bachelor's degree in art in Art & Technology (Technoetic Arts) from Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, where she developed an interest in speculative futures, moist media and experience design.

Show Location: Battersea campus: Studio Building, Ground floor

Throughout history, humans have depended on the conditions of the earth created by plants. Without the plant, life on earth would be without the oxygen and food it needs to survive. But what if the presence of plants becomes the cause of a global climate crisis? For example, the Amazon rainforest, known as the planet's lungs, could become a frightening new engine of global warming. What scenarios might arise where the environment meets the social pressure of climate change?

‘Photosynthesis II’ is a speculative project that presents a dystopian future in which plants are affected by the increased carbon dioxide in the environment - fail to produce enough oxygen and instead become part of the problem. In the future, a group of scientists will decide to create a rehabilitation program to avoid human attacks on plants. The project aims for the audience to reflect on the tipping point of the terrestrial biosphere in relation to the climate crisis and the ever-change relationship between plants and humankind.

Welcome to 2048 - an alternative future of climate change

As global temperatures continue to rise in 2048, medical scientists have found that a group of patients with similar hypoxia symptoms have recently appeared in hospitals. Investigations revealed that the cause of the illness was prolonged contact with certain plants. Meanwhile, Dr Jurgenne Ascott has found that the effects of rising global average temperatures appear to be causing not only the endangerment of some plants but also most C3 plants and a few C4 plants in temperate and tropical regions no longer producing enough oxygen from photosynthesis to cover their carbon emissions - the presence of these plants became the factor of global warming.

This discovery has caused some riots: some citizens have begun to destroy the plant landscape within the city deliberately, plant protection organizations have been accused of being accomplices of plants...

Photosynthesis II creates a dystopian future where the audience can position themselves in a future climate crisis scenario and face the potential changes in our individual and society.




Installation View - the whole installation
Plant monitoring system_1
laboratory artifacts_1
Plant monitoring system_2
Plant monitoring system_3
Future digital archive (moving image)
Installation View - plant monitoring system & laboratory artifacts
laboratory artifacts_2
Plant monitoring system_4

This dystopian fictional future is presented through a scenario which is consists of a series of mixed media - including a series of speculated artefacts and a carefully designed plant rehabilitation program. The rehabilitation program allows humans to modify plants to improve their photosynthetic efficiency and is presented through a real-time monitoring system. Audiences are encouraged to contemplate what novel situations might occur within their own futures and to consider broader questions like how we can have a better symbiotic relationship with plants and what can we do to stop the progress of global warming.


mixed media