Plant Entrainment Toolkit

The increase in urban farming and growing indoors has resulted in a dissonance in what plants perceive of their natural surrounding environment. This installation is an attempt to show how we can design with nature’s long-term evolution in mind

This project started when I was growing small herbs inside my home using hyrdoponics and grow lights, when I noticed my chili plant going to sleep in the evening around 4pm and waking up again at around 12 am at night (seen via it’s leaf position) . Even after a month, the plant did not adjust to the grow light timings.

Plants, like all other living creatures have a circadian clock that controls its activities based on internal cues(genetic clock) and other environmental stimuli (light and temperature being the most important). These inputs were however not synchronized, when growing indoors. I then decided to timelapse my chili plant to see it’s sleep-wake pattern. I recorded over a period of two months (still currently on) during January, February (in Shanghai) to visualie its genetic expressions(in the form of movement) during warm and cold weather.

The sleep-wake patterns from the time-lapse are then used to control the lighting conditions for vegetative/flowering stages according to the luminosity and soil/water temperature conditions.

Concept Plant Circadian Time

More than the concept of plant circadian time, this installation is an attempt to capture the disconnection we have with nature and time in the context of urban farming. Urban/Vertical farming is already on the verge of greenwashing since it is not built on the foundations of ecology and nature, but rather on economy and profits which would eventually lead to self-terminating systems in the distant future.


In the above clip, I’ve set the timer of the light to go on at 3 am (when the change in leaf expressions are seen) and to turn off when the sun rises. The plant has grown considerably over this period and is almost ready for the flowering stage. Don’t really know if the light made a difference :p. *This project is still undergoing and I will post more about it soon.