The aesthetics of automation are not necessarily rectilinear and orthogonal. When AI optimization algorithms are applied to long studied problems, like chess or antenna design, new and unpredictable strategies often emerge. This project imagines this aesthetic applied to agricultural methods, which have been developed over many centuries to fit human ergonomics and practices.

What sorts of agricultural landscapes could AI create in the neighborhood? Many current AI approaches to farming imagine it in the fields that we have developed for human use, or in sterile warehouses. This project places AI entities in the area between those two extremes. I’ve designed an AI farmer, which takes the form of a modified pivot irrigator, a speculative system for how it might work, and a short video explaining this design fiction.

How might landscapes be organized ergonomically for the AI’s that might tend or manage them? How will AIs maneuver around existing infrastructure? Might they contribute to modern ‘local farming’ trends?

pivot.AI imagines a massive pivot irrigator that traverses over a town. As it makes its way around in a circle, the system imagines how different crop combinations could populate the space around the houses of the town. The goal of this system is the production of more food, but the aesthetics of its organization are radically different from the neat rows and delineated fields of normal agriculture. The project also tries to imagine the different scales of interaction that would occur in this ecosystem. The lines between yards become blurred, displeasing the town dogs. The irrigator keeps a regular pace, so each inhabitant of the town knows when it will over top of them with its cameras. Those houses in the center of town are much more surveilled, where the system moves slower, and on the outskirts of town the houses are much less tended to.

Instructor: Ben Hooker