The Secret History of Music For Plants
It took Peter Coffin no less than twelve years to convince Laurie Anderson, Ariel Pink and Philip Glass to compose music especially for plants …!
Music for plants? Not so stupid as it may seem.
It is advisable to talk to plants in many botanical textbooks, the voice being a sound frequency, the music also, there is no difference…
Further, plants are far from being mere objects, they are organic entities. They react to temperature changes, ambient air, ambient light… Why not to music?
A fascinating project finally!
With Music For Plants, Coffin is the latest in a storied line of individuals who have been inspired by unusual phenomena in plants. So – who planted the seed? The artist’s practice finds its genesis not only in those nature lovers of art history, but also in the search for plant intelligence – or, more especially – plant feeling that dates back at least as far as the Victorians.
That era, marked by its dual fascinations with the macabre and the modern, the supernatural and scientific, is punctuated by efforts to gauge paranormal perception in plants. Darwin, inarguably the most prominent scientist in convincing us of our intrinsic connections to all living things, even wrote on the subject in his The Power of Movement in Plants – he wrote of the plant roots as acting “like the brain of one of the lower animals”. The most influential scientist in the search for plant sentience came later in the 1900s, however, with Dr Jagadish Chandra Bose, of Bengal.
Considered one of the fathers of radio science, Bose combined botany, biology and physics to conduct his influential series of experiments on plants. Finding that plants reacted to the same stimuli as animal muscles – light flashes, plucking, pricking, screaming – he also found that plants grew quicker amongst pleasant music than harsh sounds.
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