Listening to Our Plant Neighbours
Collaboration with Miranda Bellamy.
This work was developed as part of an artist residency at De-Construkt in Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York in 2019. Alongside our close observation of the flora of Red Hook, we began to develop video portraits of individual plants. Through the development of this work we searched for ways to give an audible voice to the plants, which led us to explore the potential of ‘biodata sonification technology’.
By taking a specialised electronic device and laptop computer into the streets around Red Hook, we attached probes to the plants that grow out of cracks, ditches, berms, and crevices, in order to record their unique electrical impulses. These signals are interpreted as MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) data by the computer. In turn, this data is used to generate sounds and music. Shifting from an anthropocentric speculation about how plants might experience the world, we instead listen to the plants.
Biodata, field audio, and video recordings were gathered onsite. In the studio we edited video portraits of individual plants, with the soundtrack composed by the plants’ own electrical signals. Through the work we intend to offer a new way of seeing our everyday environment and bring forward questions of the nature of nature and how landscape is curated and managed.
My participation in the artist-in-residence program at De-Construkt was made possible through the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the New Brunswick Arts Board, and Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation. Thank you.