Talking Plant

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White, Amanda
Cultural Studies , Art , Contemporary Art , Critical Plant Studies , Plants , Research-Creation , Interdisciplinary , Environmental Humanities , Multi-species , Project Option
This doctoral research-creation project focuses on plants in the context of larger efforts by artists and scholars to denaturalize the anthropocentric and hierarchical ordering of species that objectify non-human life. Through the lens of Cultural Studies and artistic practice, this project looks at the relationship between people and plants—the symbiotic partnerships, everyday encounters, imaginings, and hybrid possibilities that exist between human and vegetal worlds. This exploration is rooted in the following questions: Why is looking at plants appropriate in this particular cultural moment? How are forms of artistic production positioned such that they may allow for exploring new ways of imagining human relationships to plant life? And finally, can we get to know plants differently? This doctoral thesis takes a rhizomatic approach. It includes six completed artworks developed since 2014, each exploring distinct entry points into the questions posed above: the immersive installation and major project, A Breathing Room (2017) and Movement Compositions (2017) respectively, a series of cyanotype works on paper referencing early botanical science; Plant Radio for Plants (2014–2016) with Brad Isaacs, which created a means of communication between communities of indoor and outdoor plants; PARKhive (2015–2016) with artists Teresa Carlesimo and Michael DiRisio, a public, socially-engaged project promoting citizen involvement in the expansion of urban green-space; Audible Garden (2014–2015), a project with musician Adam Phipps that used biometric sensing devices and micro-controllers in an attempt to translate the real-time responses of human-plant interactions into sound; and Adopt-A-Plant and the Windsor Workshop Series (2014), a community-based plant adoption project and workshop series developed for the Neighbourhood Spaces Residency program in Windsor, Ontario. The parallel text examines imaginings of plant-being in theoretical, cultural, and artistic contexts, and considers concurrent research in the sciences, juxtaposing and extrapolating potential meanings. The elements of this work combine to ask many questions, presenting these to readers, participants, and viewers along with proposals for new ways of imagining plant being and interacting with more-than-human plant worlds.
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