Artist creates with Macs and lets nature take its course

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The artist known as Monsieur Plant prompts nature to override the power of the computer.
The artist known as Monsieur Plant prompts nature to override the power of the computer.
Photo: Christophe Guinet

Cult of Mac 2.0 bug Apple designs its products with an affinity for creatives of all kinds. But a French artist known as Monsieur Plant uses Macs to take “Think Different” to another level.

The Apple computers used by Christophe Guinet, 39, are not the tools but the subject in a body of work that integrates life-giving plant matter with life-altering technology.

Guinet’s “Plant Your Mac” photo series depicts discarded iMacs as homes to carefully composed terrariums with a diverse array of lush greenery, including cacti and succulents. Even an old mouse will feature a sprig of budding greenery.

If all you see is a fun planter and clever repurposing of an obsolete machine, you’ve missed the meaning deeply rooted in each piece.

Guinet uses art to express his anxieties — about industrialization, commercialization, media hype and over-consumption, to name a few.

Mac planter
Self-portrait of the artist.
Photo: Christophe Guinet

Guinet told Cult of Mac he grew up between the city and the countryside, so nature and urban life pulled on him with equal force. He collected orchids by the age of 15 and, when he moved to the city, he relished making plants grow in unlikely places. This became Guinet’s idea of urban art.

His use of plants — which has included headphones covered in moss and Nike shoes integrated with bark, flowers and ornamental grass (“Just Grow It!”) — reflects on the simpler life cycle played out in the natural world.

In the case of the “Plant Your Mac” series, Guinet aims to remind people not to forget nature has a lasting power.

“I started the project three years ago by retrieving old Macs from my agency (that) were no longer working,” he said. “At the time, I did not have a final idea yet.”

He chose Macs because he’s used Apple computers for many years and knows them well.

“I like to play with the opposition and use capitalist symbols to give them a natural and ethical twist as if to say that nature will always triumph over man and his modes of consumption,” he said.

Mac planter
New life in an old PowerBook.
Photo: Christophe Guinet

Each piece in the series took about three days to complete. After gutting the electronics, Guinet equipped each Mac with an automatic irrigation system. The resulting art pieces continue to thrive in a display at the creative agency where Guinet works.

Guinet turned a friendly blue iMac G3 into an inviting death trap for small insects. The G3 terrarium he called Macarnivor includes Venus flytraps. An old Macintosh became a pedestal for a bonsai tree, its root base filling the screen and seeming to spill out of the disk drive.

The biography on his website describes Guinet as a “contemplative and passionate aesthete of the plant world” who tries to create art that has a meditative pull on the viewer.

“Christophe also expresses the idea that plants do not think; they live day to day in a haphazard way,” his biography reads. “It is in this spirit of the moment that he creates, with meticulous detail and patience, his unique plant compositions.”

Mac planter
Prickly mouse.
Photo: Christophe Guinet
Mac planters
Macerium with iMac G4.
Photo: Christophe Guinet
Mac planters
Macyprus, Power Mac G5
Photo: Christophe Guinet
Mac planters
Macarnivor, iMac G3
Photo: Christophe Guinet

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