Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Monday, August 15, 2011

Super-Natural Garden


...in Brooklyn at the Botanic Garden, designed by Simone Ferracina:

Super-Natural Garden is an on-going project aimed at the digital extension of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City. Visitors looking at the Garden through the technological lens of smart phones and headset devices will discover it expanded by electronic ecologies, augmented by scattered digital performances: cybernetic dances, transformations and emergences. Electronic weeds will insinuate themselves into the life of the Garden, establishing varying degrees of dependence on real-world plants and on each other, from competition and parasitism to coupling and symbiosis. They will broaden and diffuse the boundaries of the Garden into a sort of cyborgian “extended phenotype,” an augmented geography of interconnectedness and interaction. Their invasive character, rather than symbolizing the instinctual power of a holistic “Nature” as in the weeds described by architect Louis Sullivan, will present visitors with the presumed paradox of a human-designed Nature.

They are extremely beautiful. Simone edits Organs Everywhere which might easily be my new favorite place to go. I don't want to say very much right now about what I'm only seeing for the first time. But I'll say this: it's remarkable to me that this kind of attention is now being paid to non-animal lifeforms such as plants. The idea roughly is a very creative sweet spot between origami, robotics and the old art of botanical drawing, botany having been coded female since the eighteenth century when thousands of amateur woman botanists (they couldn't go to university remember) did their thing, including the poet Charlotte Smith, whose Beachy Head is a masterpiece of the genre. 

In a more general sense I'm very interested in non-aggressive irony—maybe it's just because I'm a whimsical Brit at heart, but I think there's some liberating potential there, and something like an acknowledgement of coexistence with other lifeforms.  Simone Ferracina's has this quality, which I like very much.

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