Building Your Partner Ecosystem: Who Are Your Potential Partners?
Gregory Herbert and Matthew Verdon - Serf Leeds

Ecosystems are defined as the network of interactions among organisms and between organisms and their environment. Gregory Herbert and Matthew Verdon have explored technology corporations adoption of the concept ecosystem as a strategy for value-adding, growing larger and gaining competitive advantage through linking up with partners that revolve around the company’s core technologies. In the past this resulted in behemoths like Microsoft or Apple wielding enormous influence and defining the character of the network, But now other types of more diffused, less centralized ecosystems comprising more equal and collaborative partners are organically arising between technology companies.

Adopting the tech model, Herbert and Verdon have worked with the assistance of marine biologist Alex Curd to explore the phenomenon of coral bleaching. Coral lives in a symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic microalgae called zooxanthellae. The coral gives the algae the compounds required for photosynthesis and a protected environment, while the algae provides the coral with both oxygen and the products of photosynthesis. When sea temperatures rise too high, the coral expels the algae living in its tissues, which results in coral bleaching or death. By increasing the resilience of this naturally occurring symbiotic partnership (along with other systemic changes such as improving water quality) scientists hope to save coral reefs. A practice that offers potential is assisted evolution. Assisted evolution aims to produce a hardier coral through the selection and evolution of algal symbionts with high heat resistance and through hybridisation, both without genetic engineering. Although not without controversy, in our present situation some scientists believe that the risk of inaction is greater than the risk of action.

The exhibition is a structural amalgamation of the ideas behind both the tech and scientific models of ecosystem management in terms of both process and outcome. It consists of a sculptural configuration that replicates a marine biology research laboratory, albeit an abstracted version of one, which subjects assorted materialities and systems to ecological and networked variables. The work(s) produced are a hybrid form of collaborative and individual work. Whilst each work exists and functions individually, they are inextricably linked through the discursive process that has occurred between the artists from the very inception of the project.

Gregory Herbert

Building Your Partner Ecosystem
Storage containers, Plumbing, Water, Bioballs, Carbon, Laser-cut perspex, LED-Grow light, Day light bulb and fixing, Pumps, Heater

Matthew Verdon
Who Are Your Potential Ecosystem Partners?

Alex curd
  Field equipment and Research Images

Amphipod, Polychaete worms, Image: Alex Curd