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Television For Plants

Experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats believes that since plants are rooted and cannot travel they may like to see videos of other locations.

tv with plants around-cropped

Photo: by wonderlane

Are the plants tuning in?

An experimental philosopher from San Francisco, Jonathon Keats, is interested in television for plants. For example, he installed a collection of house plants in a fifth floor space in a building in New York City and put a screen above them. He made a six-and-a-half-minute video on a loop to play to the plants. The tape showed an Italian sky on a moonlit night and the changes in the sky between dusk and dawn. He invited visitors to come to see his display and to bring their own plants to see the video in the company of his plants. He stated that since plants are rooted and cannot travel he thought that they would like to see videos of other locations. He described his video as more of a travel documentary rather than an advertisement for travel (for obvious reasons).

Keats says that he likes to imagine familiar things from unfamiliar perspectives. An earlier project that he did, which also involved plants, was one where he filmed bees pollinating flowers. During this project he spent time lying on the ground watching how light and shadow are experienced from the perspective of plants. He mounted two different showings of his pollination videos: one for an audience of a hundred rhododendrons in Chico, California, and one at Montana State University for 100 zinnias. Since Keats believed the flowering plants were exposed to vicarious sex when they viewed his videos, he described it as “plant porn.”

[Note: The article which describes this work is in The New Yorker Magazine. March 15, 2010 (Pages 23-4). I am grateful that the article was brought to my attention by Professor Betty Rose Nagle, Department of Classical Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.]

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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