Arabidobsis Synaptic Transmission
A sculpture in the wintergarden of Europol HQ in Den Haag.
One of Europol's main tasks is about information management and technology. It has to support the member states as a complex and international organ with hi-tech information systems to communicate with great efficiency and effectiveness. One could say Europe is a complex living organism that tries to grow and survive in an effective, harmonies and human way. Where Europol is an important organ to manage al kinds of information to do so.
The concept should be an intermediary between the garden, the building, the people and function of Europol. Starting points for the design are Europol as a communication organ, architectonical technology and the winter garden as location. As a symbiosis of nature and technology.
The reason that plants communicate is in a way metaphorical to the communication activities of Europol; According to recent scientific research, plants communicate on all kinds of levels to optimize their lives. Plants have developed a signalling apparatus with both chemical and physical communication pathways. Plant neurobiology is a newly emerging field of plant sciences. It covers signalling and communication at all levels of biological organization and from molecules up to ecological communities. Plants are intelligent and social organisms with complex forms of communication and information processing. Plants are able to recognize the identity of herbivores and organize the defence responses accordingly. The chemical communication in and between plants is complex. More than 20 different groups of molecules with communicational functions have currently been identified. For instance, up to 100,000 different substances, known as secondary metabolites, are actively used in the root zone. Plant roots and plant shoots detect environmental signals as well as development levels and communicate over long-distance pathways.
The area where a new shoot is coming out of a branch serves as an example for the shape of the sculpture. It can be seen as a metaphor of a natural expanding network, development and growth. The shape of the sculpture is organic but also technically constructed and refers to the architectonical roof construction of the winter garden. The honeycomb cell structure of the skin refers to the cells of a plant but also to modern engineering because of its very strong and light weighted structure. Also every change in day- and artificial light will cause a variety of light and shadow patterns into the skin because of its translucent honeycomb material.
As a metaphor for the chemical signalling of plants, the sculpture is sprayed with human pheromones. The male armpit has been hypothesized to be a source of human pheromones. A pheromone is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual. There are alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, attraction pheromones, and many others that affect behavior or physiology. Pheromones also exist in plants: Certain plants emit alarm pheromones when grazed upon, resulting in tannin production in neighboring plants. These tannins make the plants less appetizing for the herbivore.
Arabidopsis is a small flowering plant related to Cabbage and mustard. This genus is of great interest since it contains thale cress, one of the model organisms used for studying plant biology and the first plant to have its entire genome sequenced. Changes in thale cress are easily observed, making it a very useful model. Synaptic Transmission also called neurotransmission, is the process by which signaling molecules called neurotransmitters are released by a neuron, and bind to and activate the receptors of another neuron. Neurotransmitters are used to communicate the signal from one cell to the next.
PPE plastics, plywood, acrylic paint, steel, pheromones.
largest diameter: 2,6 meter, total length: 14 meter
Europol HQ, The Hague, Netherlands
Atelier Rijksbouwmeester, Rijksgebouwen Dienst Dutch Government, The Hague, Netherlands
Curator / adviser contemporary art:
Hans van den Ban
Design and production:
Ronald van der Meijs
© Ronald van der Meijs - All rights reserved. Please contact for image reproduction.