Shadow Biosphere (2011)

Man-made biodiversity to recover Earth’s lost species

New species to cleanse the planet

Climate change, a human population of 9 billion, the effects of deforestation and rising oceans will drive species to extinction. Scientists say three species of organisms become extinct every hour due to environmental pressures created by humans. Biodiversity is not just a green issue. It is vital as a life support system and we simply cannot exist without rich biodiversity. If we don’t act now, we will loose organisms which might become a solution to unforeseen disasters and diseases.

Will humans act to preserve biodiversity in time?

If not, how could we create new species of flora and fauna to regenerate Earth’s life support system?







Shadow Biosphere

Within the Shadow Biosphere, new organisms will be tasked with erasing Man’s destructive effects and stabilise the planet’s life support. We propose that human’s will utilise emerging technology such as synthetic biology and phytoremediation to create novel chimeras and new organisms able to fill traditional and new environmental niches.
We divide this Shadow Biosphere into six taxonomic groups:

• Transitional and extreme environments

• No Man’s Land - Contaminated and nuclear radiation sites

• No Man’s Land - The Human Body

• H2O

• The Rhizosphere

• Airborne

The Artwork

We created a inflated dome to host a collection of the Shadow Biosphere. This hosted specimens from our six taxonomic groups. It contained a mixture of real samples and models of man-made species of the future. We performed interactive cleasing teaceremony by inviting audience into the dome.

Scientific Context

Inspiration for the project comes from the scientific sampling expeditions of the 19th Century and those that continue today with the scientist, Craig Venter’s, Ocean Sampling Expedition. The emerging sciences we investigate include : Phytoremediation, Synthetic Biology, Genetic Engineering and Nanotechnology.



Six areas of shadow biospheres







Map of relationship between six areas









Shadow biosphere dome, where cleasing teaceremony took place inside.


Shadow Biosphere creatures

Oryctolagus desulfocibrio

Rabbit & bacteria


Transgenic rabbit with genes from Desulfovibria vulgaris, a bacterium
that breaks down pollutants and cleans upenvironmental toxins.
The gene from the bacterium lives in a new stomach in the rabbit, the rumen, this enables the rabbit to process the pollutants in contamination abosrbing plants, which it feeds on. It regurgitates the plants from the rumen in small balles. It’s dung also provides a fertiliser for re-introduced plants to grow.

Sus dehalococcoides

Pig & bacteria

Earth Surface

Transgenic pig with genes from the
bacterium, Dehalococcoides vulgaris.
The gene enables the pig to break
down pollutants and clean up
environmental toxins whilst removing
debris from no-mans land areas whilst it digs into the ground.
The pig has tusks that also house the
bacterium called Nostoc, which increase the nitrogen content of soil and provide a source of natural fertiliser.



Helix gloebacter

Garden snail & bacteria
Earth Surface

Transgenic garden snail combined with genes from the bacterium called
Gloebacter suldurreducens.
The gene enables the snail to break down metals and clean up uranium at toxic waste sites.
The snail’s shell also has surface indents to host a fungus that helps the snail to digest the uranium toxins.




Cnidaria dehalococcoides

Jellyfish and bacteria


Manmade Jellyfish combined with genes from a bacteria called Dehalococcoides ethenogenes. The gene enables the jellyfish to reductively dechlorinate the groundwater pollutants, tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene, as it feeds and glides through the oceans.




Film showing the activity happened in the dome



The Feast After Agri

After Agri (2011)

Shado Biosphwere is a part of the bigger project After Agri, an investigation into future evolutions to our food systems.

After Agri reflects the rich tapestry of how food has shaped human evolution, cultures and environments. The project draws on varied areas of science, from nutrigenomics to geophysics, to give an insight into how the body and city has naturally developed to our most basic and primal need – eat and survive. Based on this research, it looks into a future of how humans might re-design their relationship with fuelling the body through physical enhancements and redesigning culture. To bring these scenarios to life, we create pieces featuring a feast after agriculture, using filmic storytelling, graphics, animation, designed artefacts, costume and performance. It features artefacts and designed systems from each of the scenarios below and diagrammatic maps of the food cultures in the future.


A world map of the Feast After Agri, year 3000


Other cultures in After Agri




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