Audible Interactive Poetic Plant

The project Audible Interactive Poetic Plant is a continuation of Lavoslava Benčić's work in e-textiles and follows her collection of wearables (interactive gloves), and Marcello Lussana's work about the interaction between sound and human movement and deep sensory somatic experiences. In the performative installation Audible Interactive Poetic Plant, Phytolacca and the human body (wearable) are combined together so that the constituent parts are indistinguishable in an interactive project in a unique fully functional soundspace.  

The project is speculative in its nature. Two worlds meet: the plant world and the human world. Do they perceive each other? Do they understand each other? Are they sympathetic or hostile? Do they suffer, sense fear and joy together? Could the plant remember the past and current presence of the humans? Do they go along their journey in coexistence or do they cause the deconstruction of each other? Perhaps by opening our minds and hearts and simply talking with plants can destabilize our scientific knowledge, but also open new horizons that could one day, who knows, also be supported by science...

After an alleged scientific discovery in the Hindustan region (Rochford, 1885), Phytolacca generates an intense current flow of electricity from root to tip when it is in full bloom, especially in the early afternoon.

There were many reports of this discovery in newspapers around the world at the time (e.g. Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/444). The indigenous people who lived in the region regarded Phytolacca with awe and reverence, never daring to get too close.

Regrettably, on that point, there are no modern reports on the electrical conductivity of this plant, as later, similar cases of creating a strong current of electricity were no longer detected by scientists. That’s why Phytolacca seemed so charming and intriguing to me. When I viewed Phytolacca in the inner courtyard of the Pisztory Palace in Bratislava (Slovakia) and placed it in a historical, political and social framework, the artistic context formed completely spontaneously. The technological solution, however, is enabled and shaped precisely by the "electrical" characteristics of the Phytolacca. The proposed performance and video was taken in the inner courtyard of the Pisztory Palace. This palace (1890s) belonged to the pharmacist Felix Pisztory, who grew medicinal plants on the slope of Slavin hill, behind the palace. After the impressive restoration of the palace (2012), the inner courtyard was carefully landscaped and enhanced with all kinds of medicinal plants and herbs to honor the memory of its first owner, pharmacist Felix Pisztory. Unfortunately, many of the original plants were overlaid with asphalt, but one can see and sense a strong spirit, strength, resilience and persistency of the plant world fighting for its life.

In this discourse, the dialogue takes place between the author and the Phytolacca, where the above conceptual questions are actualized and concretized. We use a SenseStage system (receiver and two transmitters). One transmitter sends the data from accelerator sensor placed in the wearable/glove and the second transmitter sends the analogue data about capacitive properties of the Phytolacca to the receiver. Output sounds are manipulated and generated from graphical sounds and pre-recorded human voices. Both units of the project (glove and Phytolacca) as a whole propose spectators to interact and create the unique sound space.