[-empyre-] nature's reserved camouflage & sound art

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Wed Jul 1 05:09:50 AEST 2015

dear all
what a fascinating report we received from Laura, thanks for your very evocative description of your scientific research, and some of the critical propositions you offer (Murat already responded to some of what you say and I agree, you help us to situate the problems so well, and I also think your work related to what Špela had mentioned);

>> [Špela]
I am currently pursuing the project "Confronting Vegetal Otherness" where a series of performances investigates the (in)compatibility of the human and vegetal world. With a performative approach of juxtaposing plant and human principles I wish to point out that the antropomorphic, empathic approach to plants has its limitations. Respecting the differences might base our ethics towards plants much better than than "elevating" plants to our perceptual milieu using time lapse or electronic interfaces, through which their vitality is shadowed by the mediation of the digital...

Nevertheless, Laura, if I may ask, you started your research investigation with the assumption that there exists a "Sensorial Invisibility of Plants"?  What made you maintain this assumption, and that they are "relegated as being devoid of sensation" even though you also say that very clearly (every gardener would confirm, and everyone actually who for example would compare growing tomatoes on ground earth level to growing in pots on the 11th floor of a building behind glass windows exposed to the south side) that there are "different scenarios demonstrating the extent plants respond to their environment and the disparities between plants-  internal information-processing mechanisms in relation to their external morphological adaptations."?

How do technological mediations in new media plant art make perceptible the
otherwise imperceptible (invisible or inaudible) nature of plant life, and
how in the process do these experiments transform our understandings of
plant life and behaviour?........ For example, using
electrodes to extract data from plants opens up questions of authentication
in terms of external interference (i.e. as a result of human movements near
the sensors) or issues of incompatibility of such sensors to extract
electrophysiological signals in plants.  Are these interfaces measurements
originating from human movements? Are the plants subservient to a
conceptual role? If so, does this then reverse plant’s perspective into
that of our own returning us to the anthropomorphic?


Does this acute observation not offer also an implicit critique of the kind of sound art that Scenocosme introduced us too?   I saw that after I posted my small query, Gregory actually wrote a long and more detailed description of the work responding to Florian's and my questions, thanks for that, it was very helpful and made me want to see and experience your sound art, and I am of course sorry for not knowing that you had not been invited to this discussion forum from the beginning.... as I would have enjoyed your responses to some of the other interactive artworks (e.g. Jo's).

I was able to find time now to watch one of your videos on Akousmaflore : http://www.scenocosme.com/akousmaflore_en.htm

and I see that the documentation claims that "the artwork is an alliance between nature and digital technology"
......  "we give a sound voice to each plant"   (overtitles).

I would have thought that such claims are precisely the problem we are debating here;  and I detect no such alliance but an interactive installation that uses plants or leaves
as material interface for sonification, as many interactive sound installations have done for many years using any and all kinds of material interfaces or detection systems; and I would therefore ask what is it that you give voice to?    I am really curious and want to understand better why such work would be considered 'plant art'?

Johannes Birringer


[Gregory  schreibt]

We have been invited only this week to your list.

And I think important to give you some links to video of our artwork and  links to explanation about our interactive installations with plants and other natural element for speak and present our artistic approach.
I don't think I have give you a " long list of links to see " and I don't know  other way for clearly explain and show you our interactive artworks and speak about this.

I'm sorry if it's not the good way for start a discussion with all of you.
For sure we are  better for invent and doing interactive installation artwork than write in english at midnight on a "discussion list".
Also curently we are several exhibition to install and we don't have many time.
I'm sorry for that too.

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