Photosynthetic Transgenesis: Chronicles of a Moss Woman

Bryn Owain travels to a moss-covered volcanic island to potentially heal her painful skeletal disorder. Bryn arrives to find a beautiful landscape that is both charmed and handicapped by it’s natural resources.

Geothermic energy manufacturing now exports its product. Because of this, the energy has become too expensive for its own people and the landscape is being over-harvested.

However the same scientists treating Bryn, have already treated the local mosses and brought their numbers back. For their first human patient, the hope is that synthesized human bone and moss tissue will the thrive in the fractures of her bones.

We’re not certain about the efficacy of the procedure. What is certain is that Bryn is refiguring her own future by recovering through a photosynthetic transgenesis.

In this series, she seeks the status of Campylopus Osteoflexus, the synthesized moss strain thriving near the heat of her internal organs.

Journey to Ehfyega

My casts are thinning
and auto-oxygen levels increasing

So I go high on an asphalt lane
split down the center
of the ashen fields of Ehfyega.

To the east, the kindred, mutant moss
Campylopus Osteoflexus, thrives
In the fields of the volcano’s past violence.

The moss, Campylopus Introflexus,
was synthesized to become Campylopus Osteoflexus.

This strain was selected for my internal implant
because of the moss’s love for an array of environments
including sulphuric, geothermic terrain.

My fractures still recur.
But the Osteoflexus was already combatting
the small jabs to my esophagus
inspired by the car ride.

My scans also reveal its success
in the warmth of my shoulder blades
sternum and thoracic vertebrae.

The radiant green
is a blinding photonic glare
when the moss reflects green light
back out my pupils

These goggles evenly deflect green light
before it presses through the chloroplasts

behind my eye sockets.


my hands
in sudden vibrations
of violent rock
Ehfyega pulls me
threatens fractures
quakes heighten
follicles lift
nerves hyper-leap
at the suck of desiccation.

My Geigers didn’t predict this tectonic shift.
I’d been tracking my bone biomarkers
and the island’s seismic activity
to anticipate any potential fractures.

The yellow and red spongy threads
of my partnered moss suffer
wilt, without steam from empty boreholes.

record the location
take a sample to inspect
borrow some remnants of steam
to warm my recent Osteoflexus now at risk.

I look towards Ehfyega to return me.

Concept Text:

The analogy of glacier to bone, magma to marrow, inspires a woman to heal her painful skeletal disorder by traveling to a moss-covered, volcanic island. Scientists there have been synthesizing human bone and moss tissue to encourage new plant growth in an over-industrialized landscape. Could this same synthesis transform new growth in her ailing body as well?

This woman is now in a post-procedure, photosynthetic transgenesis. The web residency will be her platform to explore a new, self-defined, non-Anthropocene existence. One that depends less on ambivalent medical institutions and more on treatment plans like hers. This autonomous female body can also produce oxygen internally to reclaim its own healing. However, she’s now intricately connected to an ailing landscape. Her senses are undergoing extreme changes. And her connection to synthetic biology is problematic. But, she believes in reimagining a future of healing for the refigured female body.

The residency will see proposed 3D models of bones with allowances for moss growth. Poetry will be posted that reflects her morphing notions of language and time. Photographs and animations will outline the treatment plans she built for herself and her home. Maps, charts, and anatomical drawings will visualize volcanic activity, bone reconfiguration, and moss density, both on the island and within her body. And draft specifications for wearable items will accommodate her new physical state.