Archive for December, 2013

“Try instead to think like them … phytomorphize ourselves”

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News of plants’ communicative activities continues to be news this month in this week’s front page story at Quanta Magazine republished today on Wired.com. Kat McGowan’s article goes over the history of the plant signalling field, explaining how the science of plant talk, once dismissed as hokey pseudo-research, is now challenging long-held definitions of communication and behavior as the sole province of animals.

“Ian Baldwin, an ecologist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, thinks we should try to think like plants rather than anthropomorphize them.” The anti-anthropomorphization message is one critical animal folks will be familiar with; what gets me excited is Baldwin’s casual, juicily unpackable suggestion that we might “phytomorphize ourselves” in the process of our learning about the plant world. Yep, the Plant Intelligence Project is all over that: what would it mean to think ourselves as plant?

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Aurel Schmidt’s Human-Fruits and Human-Vegetables

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Originally from Kamloops, B.C. (Okanagan represent!), New York Mag calls Aurel Schmidt “a cool-kid artist (a 31-year-old messy blonde with Woody Allen glasses) who’s become known for mixed-media pieces that are peppered with everyday objects and painstakingly rendered illustrations that are both girly and perverse.”

This month, in a former bodega in New York, Schmidt has mounted a show called Fruits, drawings of human body parts imagined as parts of plants: a banana penis, a cabbage vagina. The idea isn’t particularly new: one could see this work as simply heavy-handed Georgia O’Keefe, or a pencil crayon reimagining of Lorna Crozier’s “Sex Lives of Vegetables.” Still, the drawings themselves are quite lovely.

What interests me is the emergence of this work, New York art scene’s reception of it, within a trajectory of vision fascinated by urban decay and party burnout. “I don’t feel the work is particularly gendered,” says Schmidt.

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Akousmaflore

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Akousmaflore is an interactive installation, a small garden composed of living musical plants, which react to human gestures and to gentle contact.

“Digital technologies permit us to establish a relationship between plants and sound. We display the effects of random data flow and plant interaction.”

Interesting work from French artists Gregory Lasserre and Anais met den Ancxt, who work together as a duo under the name Scenocosme.