Explorations of the Seed Vault

Explorations of the Seed Vault is an experimental project about interpreting and communicating data from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. This data-exploration project was part of an online residency at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague (DOX) and shown as a work-in-progess in the exhibition Big Bang Data (Summer 2017).

Through a series of visual explorations we investigated, analysed and interpreted publicly available data from the Svalbard Seed Vault, and combined with other relevant data sources. These explorations, alongside our thematic research, are documented and reflected on through our project blog. The project’s output was very open ended. In the end we produced three discrete outputs that each in their own way celebrates and makes more available the content of the Seed Vault:

1. SeedMapper

In this experiment, we try to connect the samples stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault with their place of origin and to highlight the relationship between Svalbard and the wider world. SeedMapper is a Chrome browser extension that, each time you open a new tab, will pick a random entry from the Seed Vault’s database and generate satellite imagery from the location from which it was harvested. We combine this image with information about the crop, name of the country, when it was acquired and the distance in kilometres from the Seed Vault.

SeedMapper enables us to travel to distant, spectacular and often forgotten corners of the world, emphasising their beauty and frailness. It draws attention to how food safety and upholding a healthy biodiversity is both a global and local collaborative effort that needs to happen over decades and centuries. Read more about the design development process here.

Get SeedMapper here.

2. Colouring book

In this colouring book, you get to take a closer look at some of the seeds found in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. This is the world’s largest secure seed storage facility and currently holds seeds from 5.499 species of crop plants. This collection is an important global collaboration for preserving the biodiversity and resilience of crops for the future. In this colouring book we look at a small, but significant, selection of these — showing seeds from both the most common species in the Seed Vault, and some of the least common ones. Read more about the Seed Vault Colouring Book here.

3. Everyday products

Finally, we have designed a few everyday products based on our Seed Vault illustrations and drawing exercises. These products include prints, mugs, duvet covers and tank-tops. For example, you can carry your groceries in a bag covered with essential crop seeds, drink from a Seed Vault mug, your tuck yourself in a seed covered duvet.

Check out the Seed Vault shop here

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