Aug 2022 - May 2023

Grass Listeners

A small group of self-organized technical naturalists began to conduct self-motivated research experiments for grass-based scientifc literature 

They constructed a series of devices, like the Grass Footprint Calculator, to collect and analyze the chemical vocabulary of damaged grass. They would be seen during the sunny hours of the day, walking across stretches of grass with their specialized equipment. These scientific pilgrimages work to increase the accuracy of urban smog emission statistics.


Speculative Designer, Filmaker, Creative Technologist

The sweet smell of grass are chemicals or volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Cut or damaged grass emits VOCs as a defense mechanism.

VOCs in the presence of sunlight are unstable or photochemically reactive to form aerosols.

These aerosols are not included in urban smog prediction models.
The grass footprint calculator aims to fix that inaccuracy.

The First Device

The Grass Listeners constructed a series of devices, the first is called the Grass Footprint Calculator.

The wearing

Your Trace

The Receipt

The receipt shows the users emission rate according to their steps. Clearly, the emission rate is not high, and that’s the point. This project encourgaes us to take a deeper look into our existing systems - smog prediction models - and make them more accurate.

Inner Mechanism

The grass calculator uses 8 components - ESP 32, GPS Sensor, Thermal Printer, ADXL 335, SD card Module, Battery Module and a Lipo battery. 

The accelerometer calculates the user's footsteps; the microcontroller calculates the distance and, therefore, the emissions. The GPS sensor gets the geo-location to ensure the user only walks in green or urban park areas.

Retrofitted Bases

Each base is designed for various
grass terrains and threat level. 

Learn to build it yourself

Follow this step by step instruction book
How to build your own grass footprint calculator︎︎︎

Evolution of Devices

What other types of equipment can be used to listen to grass? 

How would the devices look?

What new grass languages are being discenrend from these tools?

Shoe B.03 with Summ C.01

Red S.11

Comm Shoe.02

Season Prompted Suction Chamber Replacement

Shoe B.03 

Shoe B.03 In Use

Face M.45


Preceding Experiments

My initial experiments in attempting to read or understand plants, I used a non-invasive technique using electrode pads. 


Electrode pads, Arduino, Laptop, Phone - Humidity, Temperature and light tracking

How it started

Initial ideation began in collaborating with living beings outside of the human. I began to look into themes and projects aorund this domain and listed their unique contributions and characteristics

The Making

How can making inform narrative? What does acting on intuition look like?

Artist Talk at Entropy Symposium︎︎︎

Special Thanks to:

Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, Designers and Authors of Speculative Everything

Dr. Bhawani Venkataraman, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Chair and Departmental Faculty Advisor for Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Helene Steiner, Design Engineer; CEO OpenCell

Roopa Vasudevan, Artist, Programmer and Scholar

Dr. Christa Sommerer and Dr. Laurent Mignonneau, Media artists and researchers

Emily Gordin and Maya Stackhouse, Biomaterial Researcher and Fabricator.

Ayo Okunseinde , Assistant Professor of Interaction and Media Design

Karenna Gore, Founder of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York

Tory Field, Teaching Associate on Plant Wisdom

Mary Maggic, Artist and researcher

Carolina Melo, Designer.


A Simple Model for Estimating Emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds from Grass and Cut Grass in Urban Airsheds and Its Application to Two Australian Cities W.V. Kirstine & I.E. Galbally

Volatile Organic Compounds Emitted by Cut Grass: A Potentially Significant Regional and Global Source of Atmospheric Aerosols. Christopher M. Kenseth and Giuseppe A. Petrucci

Emissions of volatile organic compounds from cut grass and clover are enhanced during the drying process Joost A. de Gouw 1'2'3, Carleton J. Howard l, Thomas G. Custer 4, and Ray Fall

Keep Off The Grass - Reduce Air Pollution CISRO Austrialia

On-Line Analysis of Reactive VOCs from Urban Lawn Mowing by Thomas Karl, Ray Fall, Alfons Jordan, and Werner Lindinger

AIR POLLUTION AND THE SMELL OF CUT GRASS By Wayne Kirstine, Ian Galbally, Martin Hooper

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Meeker, Natania, and Szabari Antónia. Radical Botany: Plants and Speculative Fiction. New York: Fordham University Press, 2020.

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Stocker, Gerfried, Christa Sommerer, and Laurent Mignonneau. Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau: Interactive Art Research. Wien: Springer, 2009.

Oele, Marjolein. E-Co-Affectivity. State University of New York Press, 2021.

Gagliano, Monica. "Planetary Health: Are we Part of the Problem Or Part of the Solution?" Challenges 9, no. 2 (2018): 38. doi:

The Language of Plants : Science, Philosophy, Literature, edited by Monica Gagliano, et al., University of Minnesota Press, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Gagliano, M., Vyazovskiy, V., Borbély, A. et al. Learning by Association in Plants. Sci Rep 6, 38427 (2016).

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Phytographia: Literature as Plant Writing Author(s): Patrícia VieiraSource: Environmental Philosophy, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Fall 2015), pp. 205-220 Published by: Philosophy Documentation Center Stable URL:

A Carl Leopold (2014) Smart plants: Memory and communication without brains, Plant Signaling & Behavior, 9:10, DOI: 10.4161/15592316.2014.972268

Garzón FC. The quest for cognition in plant neurobiology. Plant Signal Behav. 2007 Jul;2(4):208-11. doi: 10.4161/psb.2.4.4470. PMID: 19516990; PMCID: PMC2634130.

André Geremia Parise, Monica Gagliano & Gustavo Maia Souza (2020) Extended cognition in plants: is it possible?, Plant Signaling & Behavior, 15:2, DOI: 10.1080/15592324.2019.1710661

Gagliano, Monica, and Mavra Grimonprez. “Breaking the Silence—Language and the Making of Meaning in Plants.” Ecopsychology 7, no. 3 (2015): 145–52.

Persons as Plants: Ecopsychology and the Return to the Dream of Nature.” Accessed September 29, 2022.

Pitt, Hannah. “Michael Marder: Grafts: Writings on Plants - Agriculture and Human Values.” SpringerLink. Springer Netherlands, April 20, 2017.

Gagliano, Monica, Charles I. Abramson, and Martial Depczynski. “Plants Learn and Remember: Let's Get Used to It - Oecologia.” SpringerLink. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, December 7, 2017.

Morris, Andrea. “A Mind without a Brain: The Science of Plant Intelligence Takes Root.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, May 11, 2018.

Pollan, Michael. “The Intelligent Plant.” The New Yorker, December 16, 2013.

︎ Project Song Dedication - PFHB︎︎︎