Awareness and Movement and the phonetic garden (working title) is planned to be a participatory room installation. The participator is offered the chance to interact with plants, through their movement in the space, in a speculative manner. The reactions of the plants are measured and sonified. The sonification is a tool to give a voice to the plant - a tool to communicate in a language that can be perceived by humans. When the participators perceive their audible impact on the plant, they themselves are influenced by their own actions. A feedback loop is created, which leads them back into the awareness of their ow impact on their surroundings. This closed loop of interaction opens the topic of a responsible and conscious way of living. As well as it raises questions about the hierarchies of human/non-human interactions and the human-centred thought patterns, that are imprinted in our culturally conditioned worldviews.
It is the measuring of the plants, that still has to be worked out. What is measured? And how?
Measuring the electric resistance of the plants. I have found that plants - as well as other beings - have puls-like, rhythmic changed in their resistance. When measured in plants this pulse is disrupted, when there is strong human movement in close proximity. My explanation was, that this impact is a change in the electromagnetic field of the plant. The field in which a change is visible is different from plant to plant.
The detection-radius seemed bigger in early experiments, then it seems now. My guess is, that it is the different plants that change this field of impact.
Where do I go from here?
Experiments have to be made to understand the relations between the kind of plant and its radius. On the other hand, I have to find a way to make this measuring technique more sensitive, to again measure a wider range. If that is possible.
Measuring the electromagnetic field directly, using plants as antennas. There are experiments in the early years of the radio, where trees where used to send and receive radio signal (radio waves). It can be experimented upon, to use plants as receivers to measure electromagnetic fields, which would be influenced by the presence and movement by humans. The problem Building EMF measuring instrument, does not seem to be very complicated. But I am waiting to some parts, to be delivered on the 5th of May.
The sonification will be achieved through Max MSP (Max for Live).
The installation would consist of a dimly lit room, with plants spread around the space. They are spread in a distance, that people can walk among them and are in the impact radius. In this way they can alway hear their impact on the plants. Questions like: How many plant? How much space? Etc. will resolve themselves, ones the technical problems are fixed. The individual plants would be lit up in a green house aesthetic and would need to have always their own speaker, which spread their individual sonification. Through this it is made clear to the visitors, which plant they are influencing when and how.