the National Bitter Melon Council came to Materials & Applications to request help on making their project “Promiscuous Production: Breeding is Bittersweet,” for the EATLACMA project curated by Fallen Fruit and Michelle Urton. Oliver Hess saw it as a perfect opportunity to create a MatterApp project and selected long time workshop participant Brian Janeczko to lead the project.
From the original M&A text written by all participants:
Over three weekends, M&A hosted a series of free community workshops to construct a sculptural bamboo trellis for experimenting with melon genetics, attempting to cross-pollinate bitter melons with sweet melons. Artists Jeremy Liu and Hiroko Kikuchi, collectively known as the National Bitter Melon Council, educated community volunteers that melons are considered a “promiscuous fruit”. Their hope is that the bitter and the sweet melons will mingle over the summer, producing a bitter-sweet melon. Brian Janeczko, the lead fabricator at M&A, led the project, given his extensive and creative experience with bamboo as a building material.
For the first weekend, volunteers successfully harvested over 200 poles of bamboo from the LACMA campus, which were then sliced, trimmed, and prepped. As a result of prototyping and experimenting with bamboo and its material properties, it was discovered that the bamboo at the LACMA campus was less likely to bend, and more likely to kink like a drinking straw. As a solution to this issue, Janeczko utilized propane heat torches to steam the bamboo from the inside, allowing the bamboo to arc more easily.
The second weekend marked the beginning of the trellis construction. With sited flags and rebar on the ground, two poles of bamboo stock were carefully heated and molded to an arc, lashed together with jute, and inserted into its corresponding rebar. The resulting vertical components of the trellis frame formed a carefully spaced singular tunnel that bifurcates into two arching tunnels, referencing the genetic experiments of the melon’s themselves.
During the third weekend, volunteers installed and lashed the diagonal bracing to the bamboo arches to provide support for the overall sculpture. Finally, planters were installed on all sides of the trellis so that the melons can begin to grow over the structure.
Between June and November of 2010 the vines grew together and created a lush structure thanks to the great design, extensive hard work, and gardener Lora Hall who was the caretaker of EATLACMA over its life.
Participants: Robin Abad, Jason Anthony, Adrine Aralalian, Otis Bardwell, Mike Brockstein, David Burns, Bruce Chan, Henry Cheung, Aaron Dang, Jenna Didier, Reanne Estrada, Christine Eyer, Jen Fleming, Walter Garcia, Oliver Hess, Sheila Hirsch, Crystal Hughes, Nicole Ives, Brian Janeczko, Graham Keegan, Hiroko Kikuchi Jessica Lim, Brad McCulley, Helen Park, Aaron Ryan, Makoto Sasaki, Jen Silbert, Dan Tran, Thom, Pamela Turner, Kat Woo, and Yelena Zhelezov