Another week and another interesting test of skill by Dr Steve Thompson.
“Redesign the radio.”
Oh. Oh I see.
Let’s do this. In teams we – myself, Robbe and Yiwen, don’t know where the other team members were – set about mind mapping what we needed in a radio and what we thought could be seen as a radio.
My first instinct was that the human body could be a radio. The body would generate the power, (kinetic), the arms the antenna and the ears could be the speakers. I may have been hanging out with Steve too much. Robbe suggested it could be a bicycle, or in fact, anything, using the hard material of the object as an acoustic resonator. It would be a fake plant in the corner. Wait, what if it wasn’t fake? What if the plant were the radio? The branches an antenna with the radio mechanism built into the trunk of the plant? The plant has grown around the radio. A living radio. A cyborg plant? We did some random sketches but kept coming back to this idea.
What if the plant had grown around the radio receiver so that it became part of the plant itself? The body of the plant is mostly water, which is conductive, so we could use the branch tips to receive the signal; all we need is power and a speaker. What if the plant pot were a speaker and it had a water impeller powered charging circuit on the side that charged the radio whilst simultaneously watering the plant? You would need to water the plant to to listen to music. Talk about creating a relationship. Most people would prefer a plant in their house than a piece of plastic. Heck, it absorbs CO2 and gives out oxygen! Don’t like what radio station your parent listens to? Snap the branch. Don’t throw it out though; it’ll grow back in a few weeks. Yup, it is a self repairing radio. Boom.
Wait, why a plant in the house? Why not a tree in a forest? Why a plant pot as a speaker? Why not use the tree trunk as an acoustic resonator? All of a sudden we are in a situation where, rather than people cutting down trees to build music stadiums, we are planting trees to have more speakers to bang out some tunes! We know that trees are good for us – the oxygen thing – but we see them as timber to be cut down or as something in the way. With this idea, we are creating a new relationship, a new desire to have trees around us. A concert would now by a gig in the forest.
So what now? This is the claiming back of the invisible: trees. We are blind to their presence. We build and consume, but we don’t appreciate what should be all around us. One big question however: what happens to the growth of a tree when it listens to Heavy Metal all the time? Will it grow thorns?
We, as a team are taking this forward. With Team C… taking an alternative direction in death, life and taxes, it leaves the original group free to explore this beautiful scenario. You never know, in a few years time, they may pull down the O2 in London and plant a thousand trees instead. Now that is progress.
We now need to find a way of integrating the radio into the tree. Creating a symbiosis. Maybe these…: