Chromaflora: Can plants teach us new ways to understand the world?
Escrito el 18 / 02 / 24 por Ana Hernando Moreno

“Plants embody the most direct and elementary connection that life can establish with the world.”

Emanuele Coccia 

Can plants teach us new ways to understand the world? The forgotten eternals of biology and theories of evolution (Coccia, 2017:4) are a great example of life for the postmodern human. In order to deepen the learning that plants can transmit, we will apply the methodology that the artist and biologist Paula Bruna (1978, Barcelona) carries out in her research «Ecofictions». First, as Bruna invites us, we begin with the desire to know, the concern of which all research begins. This doubt opens the way to investigate the issues that cross and converge in the uncertainty posed, understanding them from different perspectives. For this we will begin the research from a bibliographic review of two books: “La sociedad del cansancio» written by the philosopher, theologian and doctor Byung Chul Han, which will show us the situation and trend of the world in the era of productivity and the literary work «The life of Plants: A Metaphysics of Mixture» by philosopher and professor Emanuele Coccia that explores the importance of plants from a biological and philosophical perspective.

Understanding the world through our senses in a tired society where mental illnesses and a culture of self-exploitation predominates (Han, 2022:13), leads us to explore other life systems beyond the limits of human experience. Plants and their contemplative life are a clear example of how to live in connection with the whole without posing it as a hierarchy, since as Coccia indicates (2017:5) «One cannot separate the plant – neither physically nor methaphisically – from the world that accommodates it. It is the most intense, radical, and paradigmatic form of being in the world.» They are responsible for all life present on the planet, as Coccia (2017:8) again states, «they transform everything they touch into life». Despite this, our system inherited from the Enlightenment period is a fully humanist epistemology and continues to relegate plants to the penultimate step – only above rocks – of the pyramid of rationalism (Rowan, 2023). 

Faced with this, humans increasingly tend to separate and individualise as a response to the performance society in which we live, explains Han (2022:66), «the fatigue of the performance society is a fatigue alone [Alleinmüdigkit], which isolates and divides”. We are not aware that as Coccia (2017:69) points out «everything breathes and everything is breath because all things interpenetrate.» Plants are able to live in harmony under this premise that seems so difficult to understand by us and this leads us to the importance of rethinking what relationship we have with plants and how their way of life can help us face the era of posthumanism through a confrontation of ideas and a rejection of the hegemony of our species (Bruna, 2017). In this area, complementing the bibliographic research with a visual reference that gives us a meditative reflection on the plant world (La Casa Encendida, 2021), the three artists Patricia Domínguez (1984, Santiago de Chile), Ingela Ihrman (1985, Kalmar, Sweden) and Eduardo Navarro (1979, Buenos Aires) embark on a deeper exploration in their exhibition “Un Encuentro Vegetal» presented by La Casa Encendida in Madrid and the Wellcome Collection in London. As curator Bárbara Rodriguez points out according to Poveda (2021), the show focuses on «rethinking our relationship with plants and highlighting the importance of their action in nature».

Image 01. Ingela Ihrman, A Great Seaweed Day: Gut Weed (Ulva Intestinalis), 2019 | Image 02. Patricia Domínguez, Matrix Vegetal, Yagé, 2021 | Image 03. Eduardo Navarro, Photosynthetics, 2021

Each one from their perspective helps us understand how plants, despite their lack of hands, possess a much greater creative power than humans and invite us to generate a dialogue between these beings and us, breaking down the barrier we have created and reconnecting with our essence (La casa encendida, 2021), since as Hallé points out (1999:321) «higher plants represent about 99% of the eukaryotic biomass of planet». 

This reconnection is only possible through the return to observation and contemplative life, since living in a society of predominantly positive power we are exposed to the world and its stimuli in a totally passive way. For this it is necessary to return to observation and contemplation, a practice paradoxically more active than any hyperactivity (Han 2022:55). We must follow the teachings of Nietzsche seconded by Han (2022:49) and «acostumbrar al ojo a mirar con calma y con paciencia, a dejar que las cosas se acerquen al ojo”. This work of introspection will allow us to achieve an elevation and interconnection with all other living beings, producing a change from a human-centric worldview to a life-centric one, where all forms of life are respected and valued, since as MACBA (2023) declares «there is no distinction between humans and their environment and where the relationships between all the elements are in constant flux”. These concepts, closely related to ethics of care, invite us to look, feel and understand the way of living and interdependence of plants and rethink collective practices that gradually includes the global community upon which the future of our shared environments depend (Held, 2006:55).

Once established the theoretical and philosophical foundations that arise from the establishment of the three references and the bibliographical research, a reference archive is introduced as a second research method. This archive, conceived as a dynamic database, has been instrumental in generating connections and innovative ideas. It works not only as a repository of projects relevant to our theme, but also as an engine for the continuous growth and evolution of our project. The organization of the data is governed by a criterion of personal relevance, where entries are subjectively ranked according to their potential contribution to research. In addition, its dynamic nature allows a flexible rearrangement according to various criteria, such as the alphabetical order of authors or projects, publication, for formar or current status. This structure ensures that the archive is a living and adaptable tool, crucial for deepening and expanding our research in ever broader and more diverse directions. It can be consulted in greater depth by clicking here:  Reference Archive  

Images 04 & 05. Ana Hernando, Chromaflora reference archive,  2024 – current

Following Bruna’s methodology, it remains to choose the tools with which to take scientific research a step further, providing the artistic conclusion obtained from the study. In this case, following one of the methods proposed by Alicia Kopf (1982, Girona) and the exercises «Mapping into the Future Spaces» by Cecilia Tham (Hong Kong), the third research method is speculative fiction – included in the author text section – to develop a far possible future in which plants save the human species from a process of self-extition. This text would be complemented by a supplementary research method known as artificial intelligence (AI) imaginary, understood as a personal exploration, that invite us to create something that doesn’t exist by trying to get a machine to dream (Kopf, 2024). This techniques will bring a different approach to enrome relevance as Braidotti (2002:102) points out emphasizing «the need to direct our gaze to «minor» literary genres, such as science fiction […] in order to seek solutions to the contradictions of our time that are not loaded with nostalgia”.

Speculative fiction

In a not-that-distant future, at the bottom of the ocean, cradle of civilizations where life is measured in tides, the roots of tiny Ficea, of only 730 billion tides – which would be equivalent to a billion years in the system of talking bipeds, also known as common bipeds – begin to perceive resonances indicating that the end of a species is imminent. 

Beyond the sea surface where the waves play every day, bipeds have put their survival in imminent danger. After the long-suffering crisis of positivism, which has cast the shadow of depression over half the population, the common bipedal race increasingly advocates separation and individualism, leading to worrying rates of self-extition. After receiving such cosmic visions, Ficea decides to warn the Life Protection Assembly and share its discovery, but only receives indifference from the other living beings present. From mycorrhiza fungi with their huge underground communications network to photosynthetic bacteria from complex nanoscale light-gathering structures, no one cares. Everyone claims that after all, bipeds are an insignificant species within the vast ecosystem, it’s natural selection. 

Frustrated and determined not to give up, Ficea ignores the taunts and resorts to the Temporal Echoes, an ancestral technique forbidden for novices like her. This process has been refined over the last eons and works through ultra-low frequency waves – between 0.1 and 0.5 Hz – to generate interspecies communication. The waves produced are similar to the delta waves of bipeds and have the power to induce altered states of consciousness, creating bonds and deep empathic communications. Through this biotechnology she is able to contact Mina, a bipedal artist who resides with her sister in Lumivara, the main island of a tropical archipelago, where technology and nature coexist in a balance that allows the existence of one of the last existing bipedal communities on Earth. 

Thus, by means of the psychic connection emitted by Ficea, the Temporal Echoes stimulate the limbic areas of Mina’s brain and create the first interunion known until then between chronovegetables – known by Mina as plants – and common bipeds, starting to form a strong neural bond that will lead to a bioartistic research that will lead to the creation of Chromaflora. 

Chromaflora is a biopolymer-structured device made from a matrix of embedded carbon nanotubes. These nanotubes conduct bioelectricity by resonating with the frequencies of chronovegetables and allow communication between these and other species. On its surface, has a thin layer of perovskite, a semiconductor material capable of absorbing the sun’s rays and converting them into electrical impacts. 

The electric segments as tiny as filaments of underwater roots, produce haptic vibrations that mimic specific motion and singing patterns of various species of chronovegetables, while microcapsules that are activated by neuronal bipedal changes, release substances such as terpenes and phytosterols, able to improve brain neuroplasticity by transmitting ancestral planetary wisdom. 

Image 06. Ana Hernando, Speculative fiction Chromaflora design(Dall-e generated), 2024

In the face of the amazing development of Chromaflora, the barriers between species begin to blur, the therapeutic application of this invention becomes a symbol of progress towards bioengineering and plant neuroscience and the recovery of the talking bipeds is exponential. Chromaflora continues to develop through learning algorithms that adapt to each biped and the legacy of Ficea and Mina transcends innovation. They are the creators of a paradigm shift.

Currently Ficea is the president of the Life Protection Assembly, where takes care that each species, however tiny, is protected by the eldest traditions. Meanwhile, Mina has led the Interdependent Era Movement, transmitting with Chromaflora the wisdom of chronovegetables that bring a new approach to the bipedal philosophy. Together they have managed to eliminate the common biped from the top of the pyramid, erasing forever this geometry and embracing a new paradigm in which each species is a fundamental element in the tissue of the planetary symbiosis.

AI Imaginery: personal exploration

After analyzing the speculative fiction developed and the possibilities of implementation that could have the fictional Chromaflora, is created a first futuristic speculative design of how we could use this device. Chromaflora, a state-of-the-art innovation that works through low-frequency ultra-waves, between 0.1 and 0.5 Hz that can be produced by both plants and humans, known by the second as delta waves. These waves will create a new way of connection that will allow communication between species by psychic impulses. The person wearing that helmet can receive waves of plants and produce them to create this bilateral synergy. 

Image 07. Ana Hernando, Chromaflora futuristic helmet (Dall-e generated), 2024

Having understood it from a technical perspective, the design is adapted to a Renaissance aesthetic that seeks to guide a reflection on how the world could have been understood since that period if the biological and social reality had not been studied from an entirely human point of view. The chosen design is shown below and the image description is included.

Image 8. Ana Hernando, Chromaflora human helmet (Dall-e generated), 2024

Image of a human using Chromaflora in a Renaissance pictorial style. Chromaflora helmet works  with ultra-low-frequency waves and allow humans and plants to communicate in a psychic level. It covers the eyes to develop optimal communication between species through the development of limbic vibrations. The image is self-generated by Dall-e system.

To conclude with this personal exploration, a series of experimental images have been generated that sow the seed towards a path to explore from the posthumanist society approach and the design possibilities for other living beings. Just as it is important for humans and plants to connect, the potential connections between plants and other alive beings things should also be taken into account, so that we can create that huge tissue of alive symbiosis by psychic communication. 

Images 9, 10 & 11. Ana Hernando, Chromaflora animal helmets exploration (Dall-e generated), 2024 


Braidotti, R. (2002). Un ciberfeminismo diferente. Debats 76, pp. 100–117

Coccia, E. (2019). The Life of Plants: A Metaphysics of Mixture. Cambridge: Polity Press

Hallé, F. (2004). Éloge de le plante. Paris: Seuil

Han, B. (2022). La sociedad del cansancio. Barcelona: Herder

Held, V. (2006). The ethics of care: Personal, Political and Global. Oxford: Oxford University Press


Bruna. P. (January 16, 2024). Ecofictions. BAU. Barcelona, España.

Kopf, A. (January 23, 2024). Project workshop. BAU, Barcelona, España.

Rowan, J. (October 9, 2024). Abandoning being human.  BAU, Barcelona, España.


Bruna, P. (2017). “Plantoceno”. Avaliable on: [Retrieved January 17, 2024]

La Casa Encendida (2021) “Un encuentro vegetal. Patricia Domínguez, Ingela Ihrman y Eduardo Navarro” Avaliable on: [Retrieved January 23, 2024]

MACBA (2023). “Daniel Steegmann Mangrané: A Leaf Shapes the Eye” Available on: [Retrieved January 14, 2024]

OpenAi (2024). “DALL·E 3” Available on: [Retrieved January 27, 2024]


Tham C.  (2021). “Mapping into the Future Spaces”. Avaliable on: [Retrieved January 23, 2024]

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