Giusy Pirrotta

The Secret Life of Plants

Ceramic glazed, coloured light bulbs,fabric cable, wooden bench, six channel video on flat screens, 6'00'', looping, no sound, digital fine art print on satin polyester (each measures 220x250cm), 2019/20
Installation view Museo Nazionale della Montagna, Turin

The installation aims to create a sci-fi laboratory where are conducted experiments that verify the extrasensory perception of plants and their relationship with human beings, along with the study of plants' health.
The project, produced by Museo Nazionale della Montagna and exhibited for the exhibition "Tree Time", is inspired by the book of the same name "The Secret Life of Plants" (1973) by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird.
The book describes some of the experiments made by scientists worldwide between 1960-80 and includes fascinating information about the mysterious reactions of plants which are described as sentient organisms, able to respond to music, learn to speak, remember situation of danger and communicate with man. These researches open the filed to modern investigations on plant neurobiology.

The installation comprises a group of ceramic sculptures which represents the laboratory equipment that constantly monitors plants' health and the signals emitted by them while communicating with men.
The sculptures are displayed on a platform, which was designed to resemble the table of a scientific laboratory, and are connected with a group of six monitors through some cables.
The installation aims to depict a continuous monitoring cycle between the sculptures, the data appearing on the monitor and the elements printed on textile at the side of the laboratory table. These images are made through the combination of photos taken while researching on the visual conformation of weeping trees, especially the Cedrus Deodara Pendula, and their anthropomorphic aspect.
The videos show a selection microscope photos (1) that illustrate the activities of bacterias and pathogenous fungus on plants.
I intervened on the images creating some animations and alterating the original colours in order to stress the organic aspect of such visual material and the feeling of constant life and movement, but also the feeling of an unknown danger. Together with the microscope images there are rendering of audio waves and three-dimensional fields which aim to reproduce the signals emitted by plants, along with a found footage of a short film shot in a forest of Cedrus weeping trees.

(1) Microscope images were gently given by Centro Agroinnova, which conducts research on agri-food sectors to find novel solutions to protect plants by organic treats such as bacteria and fungus. Images of the Heterobasidion Annosum were given by Nicola La Porta and the Department of Sustainable Agroecosystems and Bioresources, Fondazione Edmund Mach.