Albeit an unconventional horticultural method, singing to plants has long been the old wives’ favourite technique for heathy foliage. But international collective ANTIVJ has turned this on its head, creating a site-specific audio-visual installation in Mexico’s Ethnobotanical garden in Oaxaca that allows its cacti to sing.
The piece – a collaboration between visual artist Romain Tardy and electronic musician Squeaky Lobster – uses projection mapping software to beam light onto the architectural succulents with ultimate precision. This gives the impression that the plants are moving, perhaps dancing, while whispering to each other and, later on, even scatting over Squeaky Lobster’s lilting beats.
Inspired by the sculptural nature of the plants, ANTIVJ also drew on the country’s Aztec roots and the spiritual mythology surrounding the natural landscape. “I think that we all felt a strong sense of respect for the place,” says ANTIVJ’s Nico Boritch. “It obviously pushes you to think about nature and beauty from a wider perspective, about culture and time.”
“We also liked the fact that the piece created some sort of a bridge with a certain history and culture that this country has with spirits and beliefs,” Boritch adds. “In our case, using light and the garden as a canvas was a nice way to play with the idea of visualising something invisible, and in some other parts of flirting with psychedelia.”