Akousmaflore, music reactive plants


The image of a fairy-tale landscape where plants welcome visitors with sounds and songs is a recurring element in literature, particularly in poetry. It’s a fascination that has seduced the art world, too, where, melting with technologies, has encouraged the birth of a new genre: nature-themed interactive audio-installations. Starting from Green Music, the installation made by John Lifton in the late Sixties, going through Pieces for Plants by Masaoka, until the recent Akousmaflore by the French Scenocosme (Gregory Lasserre and Anais met den Ancxt), we can find a common inspiration. What connects the cited projects, as well as many other very similar ones, it’s the desire to represent the sound dimension that invisibly embraces any context inhabited by plants. The hybridization of plants and digital technologies can therefore be read as an attempt to show the interactions between the electric field surrounding us (our aura) and any natural environment. This is – undoubtedly – the foundation of this new installation by Scenocosme: a garden of interactive plants and flowers that, reacting to the visitors’ movements, turns into an orchestra. By inserting tiny sensors in the leaves, the French artists turn some plants into musical instruments, but – at the same time – stress another characteristic of plants: their ability to act as a living element, sensitive to the changes in its environment. The fact that the sound vibrations produced in Akousmaflore are the output of some digital technologies (a sound flow is just another form of data flow) introduces another interesting element in this installation: the natural environment can be viewed as a place where the biological elements and their digital representations interact.

Vito Campanelli