In recent years, engineers have designed body armor based on beetle shells and applied the aerodynamics of kingfisher beaks to bullet trains. Biomimicry is the buzzword, and the principle has served us well, but biomimicry rarely benefits the organisms whose innovations we appropriate. To compensate, experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats has founded the Reciprocal Biomimicry Initiative, a program dedicated to systematically adapting human technologies to benefit other organisms.
This exhibition showcases plans and models for several representative innovations aimed at fostering resilience and flexibility. As climate change makes the future less predictable and environmental conditions more volatile, one pilot project provides migratory birds with GPS to find optimal breeding grounds, while another envisions fiber optics for corals in case water turbidity precludes photosynthesis.
The Reciprocal Biomimicry Initiative was initially conceived and exhibited at the Samek Art Museum at Bucknell University, and appears in a new iteration at Hampshire College in conjunction with The Plasmodium Consortium.
Image: Jonathon Keats, Guidance Drone for Birds, 2017, Conceptual Sketch, pencil on tissue paper. Image courtesy of the Samek Art Museum, Bucknell University.