translating plant communication

With my new position at Florida International University, I’m beginning an arts research lab focused on biophilic arts and nature connection. This is the next step in incorporating my forest bathing and horticultural therapy training into my creative practice, and it also follows up on my history with urban gardening and plant-based-food art projects.

Last night I recorded my first direct collaboration with a plant, whose sounds I recorded using biofeedback signals input to MIDI. The recording is from Gynura bicolor, also known as hongfeng cai, 紅鳳菜, or Okinawan spinach. It took some time for the plant to get used to the pickup sensors on its leaf. But as we touched, the signal began to flow more smoothly. It’s also my first use of synthesizer instruments, which I layered in 3 tracks from 3 different recordings. Mostly I’m taken with how the interpretation of the plant language is transformed by the instruments I chose for the MIDI signal. I’d love to talk to other artists about how to negotiate these choices in translation.

The recording is available through the embedded player below. Please let me know what you think: