Artemisia profile.jpg

Welcome.

This site is used to document my writing, professional projects, and personal musings. 

 

In Conversation with Rosemary Lee: Mimosa Pudica, Perception, & Selection

In Conversation with Rosemary Lee: Mimosa Pudica, Perception, & Selection

This conversation took the form of a more formal interview of one Rosemary Lee who is perhaps the father of 99 Problems to be told to a plant & The Excavation of Its Future Memory.  In 2012, Rosemary planted the seed of suggestion requesting that Berit Jane provide audio for an installation and performance exploring noise with plants as the intended audience.  What transpired instead were the 99 aphorisms that Rosemary then used in performance and presentation as part of On Sensitivity, Plants & Noise a piece included in a show with Panmediale.  Please visit the website of Rosemary Lee to see documentation on the project.

Here is a bit of a conversation of the two of them discussing some of the original themes that Lee was working with.  If the discussion seems to end halfway through a thought, this is merely the manner of conversing Rosemary and Berit Jane often find themselves, never fully stopping although the pauses may stretch across months and countries. 


BSH
Well, shall we begin? I guess where this whole project started was in your invitation to participate in your curation of pieces to be placed in proximity to mimosa pudica.  What were some of your original curiosities about the sensitivity of plants?

RL
I mainly conceived of the piece as an exploration toward creating a sympathetic awareness of plants' experience of sound. I have been curious mostly about the human experience of this "sensitivity", of perceiving the plants' perception through human perception.

BSH
Hence your original request for me to provide audio... which proved difficult.

RL
But the text was also very auditory in it's own way, so it totally fit.

BSH
Do you think that there is a perception proper to plants that we can't perceive?

RL
Yes, absolutely. Their sensorial systems are discrete from the human sensory perception, making it extremely interesting and crucial to think about extra-human sensation in this context.

BSH
Were there any discoveries made during the original production of your investigation? In regards to this extra-human sensation, that is...

RL
Yes, in fact, I realized that the plants were much more sensitive than I had even imagined. They reacted not only to touch, but to heat, sound, movement, and even bodies in their shared space. Their reaction of shirking contact extended far beyond the tactile, and was very in tune with the rising and setting of the sun, too much noise, or any kind of stimulation. It was similar to humans, too much noise, too many people, moving around too much, it exhausted them.

BSH
Do you think these reactions – these responses are limited to the physical?  What I mean is that certainly a mimosa pudica responds in one way to human touch, but by reading the problems— I'm not really meaning to ask about cognition, but is/was there something in the activity of reading to them, near them, alongside them that you witnessed?

RL
It was pretty strange going on tour with plants, because they obviously didn't like to travel. I would say they could probably all be described with physics. But many physical factors are imperceptible to humans.

BSH
Or only to a trained eye. Or ear, or tongue....

RL
It's similar to how sharks or bats have perception of dimensions beyond human perception.

BSH
Or how some animals can perceive a wider spectrum of colors....

RL
Exactly.

BSH
I find it interesting, however, that we can know that there are things we can't perceive. And how we come to know this.

RL
Yes, that is extremely interesting. We find our shortcomings somehow. To find what we cannot perceive.

BSH
And what is this perception?  To perceive we come up short of something else, is it something we do not know?  Something we do not know yet?  Something we imagine?

RL
I think it is something we can know through other beings. But "know" in the externalized sense.

BSH
Externalized in the way of approaching surfaces?

RL
That, I think, is crucial to the project. Admitting that we do not have a final say on what is. Yes, external to our surface, but coinciding with it in the points of contact where we find our blind spots.

BSH
Or even the indifference of plants, no?

photo from collection #streetdramaseries

photo from collection #streetdramaseries

RL
Haha, ya. Exactly the indifference of plants. That they perceive beyond us but are a bit indifferent to our contrivances. Plants don't feel the need to externalize their senses like us.

BSH
Blindness has been surfacing quite a bit in these little vignettes, but blindness heightens other senses.

RL
Blindness may heighten other senses.

BSH
An invitation perhaps?  For the oft discarded senses?

RL
Yes, that's probably true. When one sense is dominant, the others must wait. I am quite interested in awareness and how it seems only one thing at a time can occupy the mind.

BSH
Or we only think that one thing occupies our mind. When we are hungry, over hungry perhaps, this affects our communication style, no?

RL
The brain has a pseudo-democratic system, when enough neurons are triggered by a thing, then the conscious mums "deal" with it.

BSH
But sometimes it isn't that we realize that we need to eat that we realize we've been being nasty.

RL
Yes, that's definitely part of the same theme. The input is there, but it only receives dominance once it becomes critical to the survival of the whole.

BSH
I kind of resist the one thing at a time hypothesis....  I mean, sure we operate this way—but only when we aren't paying attention?

RL
Unfortunately, cognitive science says otherwise. There is a general tendency for the mind to perceive quite a lot, yet only allow a limited amount to reach "attention"

BSH
But aren't cognitive sciences only looking at one thing themselves?

RL
I think we actually perceive a huge amount of information which is not credited, which is the very interesting thing, we perceive much more than we ever have reason to think about. The invisible gorilla is a good example. We can scientifically prove that we see things which don't interrupt the flow of consciousness

BSH
True. The difference between perception and interpretation... Sure, this is kind of a pulling back the curtain, no?

RL
I'm not sure. It's not that there is a "grand scheme" behind anything, but that there are movements and I would say uprisings of the brain, and when a movement is violent enough it is able to take cognitive priority

BSH
I guess what I mean by “pulling back the curtain” is that science says it sees things we don't—like the gorilla. Things we didn't perceive before. But in hindsight become apparent.

RL
Ah, yes. That we only perceive outside a "charged" situation

BSH
Charged?

RL
With full attention set upon a goal, like with the gorilla one, where the goal is elsewhere than spotting a gorilla in the scene.

In Conversation with Nick Trotter: Hospitality & The Grey Area Between Life & Life

In Conversation with Nick Trotter: Hospitality & The Grey Area Between Life & Life

My Real Job(s) or What Does a Bartender Do? Part I :: Bartender's Atlas

My Real Job(s) or What Does a Bartender Do? Part I :: Bartender's Atlas