Lichen for Skyscrapers Project

I am thrilled to report that the “Lichen for Skyscrapers Project” was featured as part of New York’s Art in Odd Places Festival from Oct. 1-10 and is currently on view as a site-specific installation on 14th Street between Union Square Park and the Hudson River. A self-guided walking-tour map and downloadable brochure, detailing the installation on 14th Street, can be found at the end of this post.  A Rutgers Focus news release states:

Lichen is a versatile combination of fungi and algae and can grow vertically on pourous surfaces.

In this era of environmental consciousness, many buildings are being outfitted to “go green.” A Rutgers–Camden professor is taking the term quite literally.

Elizabeth Demaray, an associate professor of fine arts, is cultivating lichen on the sides of New York City skyscrapers to counteract the lack of native vegetation found in the city. Her “Lichen for Skyscrapers Project” was featured as part of New York’s Art in Odd Places Festival from Oct. 1-10 and is currently on view as a site-specific installation on 14th Street between Union Square Park and the Hudson River.

“Metropolitan centers figure into local temperatures in an interesting way,” Demaray says. “They are sometimes referred to as ‘urban heat islands’ because they create heat and they trap heat. A large part of this process is due to the materials that we build with and the actual architecture of the buildings that we create.”

Demaray says one of the ways to reduce heat in these cities is to cultivate lichen, which forms a protective barrier, insulating its supporting building from harmful elements. It can lower cumulative temperatures by absorbing sunlight and reflecting heat due to its light color palate while making oxygen and creating green space on the sides of buildings. 

Scientific American Lichen for Skyscrapers post:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2011/11/29/its-a-bird-its-a-plane-no-its-reindeer-chow-a-n-y-c-artist-uses-lichen-as-paint/

Rutgers Magazine post:

http://news.rutgers.edu/news-releases/2011/10/professor-going-gree-20111021#.UoZDERb3CqQ

Lichen Project Walking Tour

About demaray

I kinit sweaters for plants, I culture lichen on the sides of skyscrapers in New York City and I manufacture alternative forms of housing for hermit crabs, out of plastic. With the engineer Dr. Qingze Zou, I am currently creating the IndaPlant Project: An Act of Trans-Species Giving in which I am building light-sencing robotic supports for housplants. These moving floraborgs allow potted-plants to roam freely in a domestic environment, in search of sunlight and water.

5 comments

  1. I like this concept, not only does it promote vegetation growth but it also works as a protective measure towards conserving energy using this eco-boosting insulation.

  2. I really like this. It’s neat how much good it does for the environment, especially in a setting that generally has such a negative environmental impact.

  3. I really like your idea behind the use Lichen as way to keep the buildings cool, It would interesting if more people would accept lichen placed on their buildings wall. It can used to create art on many walls of buildings in the city, I believe it is a positive cause.It’s a shame many people are not interested in the concept.

  4. What is art? Where is art? Who decides and who is it for? I really love this project because it simulataneously functions as an urban resource grounded in scientific research and also as conceptual commentary on these questions which dominate modern art. If lichen grew naturally on the side of a plant without human intervention, could it still be considered art? Some may consider expanding the definition of art in this way as a sort of blasphemy, but I think it is beautiful and necessary!

  5. This is such a fantastic idea. Not only would it make inorganic cities organic visually, but it would actually help. Cities create so much heat and this would be an effective and relatively easy and inexpensive solution.

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