Pluies: A Music Dialogue with Plants
Pauline Miko talks about her peculiar craft, her sixteen plant choirs, electrical connections through electrodes and green feelings.
Pauline Mikó is an artist, but not an artist like the others. A photographer by profession, she aspired to the musical dimension, which she imagined associating with plants. The ‘Pluies’ project was born. The artist is today “translator of the music of plants” with his group of sixteen “choristers” around her.
I knew it was possible to make music with plants. I started to research, I carried out tests, I made cables to connect electrodes to the leaves, to the ground, and to my body. When I touch the plant, we establish an electrical circuit by exchanging a weak electrical current, which is then translated into frequency and sent to a computer. It is, therefore, a trio between the plant, me and the computer.
I use a computer program, “Sound Plant 47”, which translates electrical data into frequencies via an Arduino. Each plant has its own identity: when it comes to a strong frequency, for example, I translate it into a more acute sound. And when it is weak, into a low sound. I can thus create a harmony between the different frequencies of plants. This is what I do when performing live, a concert with my “group” – a set of sixteen plants.
“Each plant has its own identity”
Similar programs already existed, but I added my own sensitivity to them. I notably brought a touch of softness to it by using electrodes that I put on plants, and not pliers, which can traumatize the plant. Plants sometimes have very little energy: in such a scenario, I need to reshape their electrical frequency to be able to listen to them. There is a peculiar decisional part between the section of the plant I choose to use and the creative direction I take for the translation of its vibrations into sounds.
Plants can sometimes have their own mood swings. Some species are more dynamic than others, especially plants with very green and perennial leaves, with more veins. Aloe vera, on the other hand, is curiously not very cooperative. But she already gives us so much through her gel… Maybe she can’t be in the oven and in the mill at the same time.
“At the time of entering the scene, no plants were responding, although they were dynamic an hour before.”
Once during a concert at the Botanique the connection “broke down”. At the time of entering the scene, no plants were responding, although they were dynamic an hour before. It can be related to their emotions, a certain shyness, the fact of being turned upside down, or even exhaustion.To test my system, I went to find a plant in an office, and it worked perfectly. After about twenty minutes, the others started to “sing” again.
Plants that are used to performing concerts grow better! When the room allows it, I also suggest that the spectators touch the plants. We can see that some people are receptive to the vibrations of plants, and others not at all. This is perhaps the whole secret of the famous “green hands.”
Intention and benevolence are paramount. Moreover, houseplants considered as objects, which are not solicited, tend to fall asleep. Words and love are essential for plants to give the best of themselves!
— Pauline Miko