Group Turns Natural Elements Into Musical Instruments

Scenocosme makes stones sing, and turns an assortment of house plants into an orchestra.

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about how plants could communicate with each other--and with you--through processes that allow us to hear their reactions to stimuli. That project was called Pulsu (m) Plantae and was created by Leslie Garcia. Today, we bring you another group of artists, Scenocosme, who have been exploring similar ideas. However, for their project, they have set out to create an entire symphony of plants.

In this installation, called Akousmaflore, several potted plants are suspended from the ceiling and viewers are encouraged to interact with them. Wires are connected to the plants near their roots, allowing the reactions of the plants to produce sound. When viewers touch the plants anywhere, ­­the stem or the leaves, ­­they make ethereal sounds in response. As you would imagine, multiple people touching them at once creates an orchestra of plant songs.

According to Scenocosme, our bodies produce an aura that cannot be felt by humans, but is felt by plants. Our closeness to plants causes them to produce a reaction, which is then translated into sound through Scenocosme’s electrical apparatus.

So we know that house plants, which are living things, can interact with us in a way that can produce sound. But did you know that things that are not alive can also do this? Scenocosme has also created another project called Kymapetra, which creates music from stones, water, and simple hand movements.

The piece consists of a large basin of water and five stones. The stones, arranged in a semicircle in front of the basin, are each in their own individual inset within the piece. They are different shapes and sizes, although each of them could comfortably fit in your hand.

And yet, you don’t even need to hold them to produce a reaction. There is no physical contact required ­­ just closeness. The viewer simply hovers his or her hand above an individual rock and the process begins. First, a rumbling, vibrating sound is heard. Then, ripples form on the water in the basin, producing a visual translation of the sound waves that were just created. The effect is as if you dropped a stone into a pond and saw the motion move through the water ­­ but in this case, it is intangible, subtle vibrations from your body that create the ripple.

It may be easier to grasp that house plants, which we acknowledge as needing sustenance to survive, respond to changes in their environments ­­ the way we touch them can affect their ability to survive in our homes. However, Kymapetra allows us to observe the effect that our presence has even on objects that do not need us to survive. The viewer’s closeness, the heat of their hands, the gentle brush of their fingers sends a reaction through these rocks that is strong enough to produce sound and move static water. The simple effect of us being near an inanimate object can, in a way, allow them to become alive.