MAicro Water Flow integrates biology and surveillance, an aesthetic experience of the movement of water in tree leaves through time and distance, from MACRO to micro.

How does water flow along tree leaves? Visualizing the movement of water pathways in tree leaves, MAicro Water Flow allows us to contemplate its flow, after traveling through the soil to the roots and the stem, up until when it evaporates into the atmosphere through the surface of the leaf.MAicro is an approach that recalls generative art through the exploration of the dimensions of the forest – from the microscopic effect to the macroscopic presence on the universe.

MAicro is part of ARTiVIS (Arts, Real-Time Video and Interactivity for Sustainability), enhancing the association of Art and Activism through open sharing of real-time video streams of forests for artistic exploration on environmental causes.

Functionalities like the creation of video data with a magnification of around 100 to 400x of biological elements in movement recalls the frenzy of life "as it is" and embody a great potential for presentation.
MAicro Water Flow put this advantage into practice by allowing us to contemplate the water flow effects after the water having travelled through the soil to the roots and the stem, up until when it evaporates into the atmosphere through the surface of the leaf.

The microscopic visualization of water pathways in tree leaves was enabled through DiY digital microscopes made from standard webcams with adjustable focus-lens, a hack inspired by Hacteria whose online resources were shared in a workshop at altLab. The MAicro Water Flow microscopes were customized for holding water and tree leaves for long periods of time. In order to do so, Petri plates traditionally used by biologists to culture cells were hacked into a water and leaf sample container, thus achieving a transparent structure with a minimalistic look while saving on resources.
Combining biology and surveillance in time and distance, the MAicro Water Flow installation creates an aesthetic experience by moving through diverse scales, from “MACRO” to “micro”. In exhibition setups, MAicro is remotely maintained from the artist's site, streaming live video to the exhibition site. The experiment generates an ever growing record, showcasing the water flow in the plant in real-time and in the timelapse during the exhibition. The microscopy setup is replicated in site, this time to enable awareness of the reverse process – inhibited of water, the progressive dryness brings evidence on the need of water for survival.

Beyond its relevance as an aggregator of artistic and scientific approaches to the states of water where MAicro Water Flow is included, Waterbodies is also a reference for ARTiVIS by involving issues like the scalability of the online platform and the blend of arts and sciences on the theme of natural environment.


Soil water, water cycle in trees

Water Transport, Real-time Video, Microscopy, Sustainability, Biology, Surveillance

Waterbodies PT online exhibition »


EAMES, Charles and Ray, MORRISON, Philip and Phylis, 1982, Powers of Ten –The World at Different Scale – Open Source Biological Art – is a collection of DIY Biology, Open Source Art Projects that use Biology, LifeSciences, Biotechnology » at the Sci-Art Nanolab 2012 »

AltLab events list including the DiY microscopia workshop by Filipe Cruz in November 2011 »

Yuzou Sano1, Yasuko Okamura and Yasuhiro Utsumi, Visualizing water-conduction pathways of living trees: selection of dyes and tissue preparation methods

Rutishauser, S. 2011. "Transport in Plants", UntamedScience

video from Science Friday