Although we tend to think of our cities as concrete jungles, our post-new urban environment is awash in plant life. Wild urban plants have taken root along roadsides and chain-link fences, between cracks of pavement, and within vacant lots, rubble dumps and highway medians. Spontaneously propagating, these resilient plants find distinctive niches to thrive in and inhabit our most derelict landscapes. The environmental benefits of these “weeds” go widely unrecognized when, in fact, reframing this often invisible urban ecology as a beneficial amenity can offer a fresh perspective on how cities perform.
#spontaneousurbanplants is an Instagram-powered art and research project which explores the overlooked ecological services that weeds offer in our urban environments.. Part performance piece, part photo documentation project and part ecological investigation, the project attempts to use conceptual ideas of wandering, photo filtering and plant indexing as tools to reframe our preconceived notions about weeds in urban areas. Leveraging principles of urban ecology and environmental aesthetics, the research project stimulates discourse between the different trades whose work touches on ideas of our new urban future—ecologists, architects, urban planners, engineers, policy makers, artists and the general public.