Plant Geometry: A Design Study

Words by
Karina Sharpe
Images by
Karina Sharpe
| February 2, 2015

This photographic series is an artistic design study of plants as if they were objects with a fixed way of being. I asked myself what it would look like to create a geometric drawing of a plant – to create a permanent record of something, which by nature, has no permanency. I found therein lies an entertaining paradox, and a life lesson.

The Leaf of Red Veins

If plants were in fact objects, we could say “Look at that green leaf with the reddish stem and the whitish trim, it has a lower left-hand vein with a curvature that hugs an arc at a radius of 156 mm” and “the head of that rose-pink Rose is exactly 88mm wide and 86mm tall” and “that immature fruit pod is somewhat spherical by nature, the specific form of which occurs from the interception of three different diameters”. If plants were objects we could attempt to use such measurements to capture their absoluteness.

But plants are not objects, and there is no absolute. They are transient and their form exists within a constant state of flux. And in truth, we cannot summarize the design of a plant within a single session of measurement and recording, since even within the space of time between the measuring and the recording enough about the plant may have changed to render the measurements obsolete.

Even this photographic series can only ever stand as a loose two-dimensional representation of a single moment in time – for even in the moment before, as in the moment after, the image would be different. These images can only exist as a fleeting geometric grasp of momentary plant life. They capture transitory beauty.

Therein lies my discovery: perhaps it is the mere acceptance of constant change which permits the conditions for permanent beauty…

Now, what about us? Are we not also as transient as a plant? Are we not, by our own very nature, in a constant state of change? What would life be like if we treated ourselves like plants? What if we didn’t wish we had more petals, or less holes, or fewer thorns. What if the Pine Tree didn’t yearn to be a shrub? What if the acorn didn’t wish it was a pear, or wish it were already the oak?

What if, like these plants, we simply took each moment for each moment, in all its glory and splendour, and with a complete absence of suppose-to’s or ought-to-be’s. What if we simply let our tangential lines of geometric what-have-you’s radiate out into the ether at any given moment, free of judgment?

If plants are transient, and we are transient, and if plants do not judge, then perhaps passing personal judgment could also be deemed illogical – because it follows that even in the span of the judgment being passed, the thing that initially sparked the judgment may have already begun to become obsolete – and the judgement, therefore, could be deemed redundant.

And without judgement perhaps we’d find ample room to be beautiful.

The Rose Pink Rose
The Leaf of Interconnections
The Leaf of Notable Flaws
The Immature Fruit