Music for living entities

from Domus 903 May 2007

The experimental intentions of sonorous exhibitions for people and plants described in images and the artist’s words Peter Coffin. Design Peter Coffin

 

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The experimental intentions of sonorous exhibitions for people and plants described in images and the artist’s words Peter Coffin. Design Peter Coffin

This work combines the intimacy of a small greenhouse filled with living plants and the communicative potential of music as a way to engage a consideration of alternative consciousness generally and in particular the conscious potential of living plants.

The installation engages certain perspectives depending on the viewer’s involvement. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to play music to the plants themselves within the greenhouse space, witness musicians or other visitors performing to the plants, or view the installation while a soundtrack composed especially for the plants plays on rotation. In this way the piece offers exhibition goers the opportunity to experience different kinds of subjectivity.

In the first scenario, visitors experience the phenomenon directly. In the second and third, they are invited to consider the scenario from a more objective position, observing some potential interaction between living things. Plenty of scientific research has shown that plants react to music and the presence of people. The music-for-plants phenomenon was popular in the 1970s and has attracted a certain kind of interest that this work sets out to further. The piece is not so much a test of the music-for-plants phenomenon but an opportunity to experience it first hand in an informal and intuitive way (without the need for scientific evidence).

Our interest in this phenomenon is rooted in a curiosity about alternative consciousness and the consciousness of other living things. It is fascinating to consider without drawing any conclusions as the research tends to do. This piece instead offers the opportunity for experience and simply encourages this consideration. I am interested in how we understand our reality at this edge where fringe science and the curiosity about other consciousness aside from our own overlap. Relevant to this of course is also the desire to comprehend the things we don’t and may want to understand. The piece is partly inspired, in part by the book and film, The Secret Life of Plants. (Peter Coffin)

Musicians who played in the Greenhouse in its initial presentation at Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York, in 2002 include the Black Dice, Alan Licht, Tom Verlaine & Juuta Koether, Barry Weissblatt with Tim Barnes, Chris Corsano with Sean Meehan and Michale Evans, Chris Graves, Dave Shim with Edgar Um Bucholtz, David Robert seed () and Tetsu Inoue, Gnosis, Gabe Andruzzi and Sam Hilmer, Pete Mandradjief and Zack Prekop, qpe, Raz Mesinai, Rich Aldrich, Sam Wheeler, Simplex, Syntony Collective, Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus (LoVid), Steven Parrino and J. Koether (Electrophilia), Warren Ng and Chris Farnum, Yamini Nayar, Z's, O.blaat, DJ Olive, Marumari, Eddie “stats” Houghten, Merideth Danluck, Matt Valentine and Erika Elder (Medicine Show)