Dry cleaning and nature don’t usually go hand-in-hand, but the “Replantment” installation by Andrew Quitmeyer and Madeline Schwartzman uses a dry cleaning conveyor in a whole new way. Instead of moving clothes, it now passes translucent leaf molds in front of the viewer, beautifully lit via a backlighting system.
One of the challenges of this project was finding a conveyor at a reasonable price, and in a brilliant display of creative sourcing, Schwartzman found a dry cleaning business that had been closed for 12 years that somehow still had their conveyors inside. Even more amazingly, the conveyors plugged in and started up without issue. For the display the, creators replaced the foot switch normally used to control the device with an Arduino using a pair of relays — a simple task given its on/off design.
To complete the build, RFID tags were added to the original laundry tickets, on which they placed pictures of the plants used in the display. When a gallery observer takes one near the machine, the tag is sensed by SparkFun’s long-range reader. The machine then powers up, pulling glowing leaves past the user in a pattern unique to each tag.
You can see it on display in the first video below, or check out a time-lapse of the setup procedure in the second. Better yet, if you’re in the NYC area, the machine will be on display until February 17th, so you could even see it in person!