Among “plantable” albums that become flowers and synthesizers that play music using the activities of plants, Data Garden is revolutionizing the liaison between the digital and the biodegradable.
Data Garden, the organic romance between plants and computers /
Data Garden is a sound exploration lab that experiments with art, history, science and nature. Its creators, Joe Patitucci and Alex Tyson, have been able to create connections between the digital and botanical fields that had never been explored before. And, like every great invention, the result is absolutely natural, as if all along they had been waiting patiently for someone to create a connection and put the parts together.
The project was burgeoned because, like many of us who own smartphones or mp3 players know, Joe Patitucci realized that digital media can easily become lost in the impermanence of computing. And physical objects like CDs, cassettes and discs last much longer than they actually work, and possibly more than our existence as a species. There had to be a way to minimize these challenges, and that was launching digital albums on works of art that could grow like living plants.
Thus, while spring slowly wraps its arms around us, Data Garden is slowly launching “trans-digital” albums (as they are accordingly calling them) which are sold on “seed paper” with a code that allows the buyer to download an album, and then, with a little soil and water, grow them into flowers. Artists such as Ben Warfield, who explores the biological effects of light and darkness on humans (and who is worth listening to), have made their debut with the label, defending a sustainable approach to physical music in a market dominated by the digital. His album blossoms into blue lobelias.
The label answered to our need to have easy access to music, and at the same time it satisfies the distinctly human desire to have an incredible physical object at home. The circuits used to contain digital data become biodegradable.
In addition to launching downloadable music codes which can be planted after they are used, the label also launched MIDI sprout this year, a biozonofication device that enables plants to play synths in real time. According to the creators, this device contains two probes that sends tiny electrical signals and once these have adhered themselves to the plant, it measures the active resistance to the current. Afterwards, the response is transformed into data that either a synthesizer or a computer can read. Lastly, the sounds can be touched or used to activate “pre-programed sonorous atmospheres.” In their words:
Our vision is to give people the ability to convert the activities of plants into music. Anybody with a computer or synthesizer can use MIDI Sprout to investigate the secret life of plants.
Data Garden is more than a fine selection of events and a new approach to musical distribution. At the margin of it all, its creators have become curators and historians of the tech culture, digging through the annals of computing history in order to find signs of the natural world. In their search they found, for example, a Japanese woman who tried to teach her cactus the alphabet.
The idea of translating vibrations from a plant, even more so a plant that lives with you, and to create music using these organisms, could be one of the richest activities in the world. The same can be said of an album that becomes a flower.
Tagged: Data Garden, music, Eccentricity