Psychobotany: Revolutionary Breakthroughs in Human/Plant Communication

May 12 – June 17, 2007

Cleve Backster: Primary Perception & Biocommunication
Cleve Backster is a polygraph scientist best known for his discovery of “primary perception” stemming from his experiments in biocommunication with plant and animal cells. Backster began using a Galvanic Skin Response portion of a lie detector, to measure response capability in plants in 1966. The results of such experiments have since been widely termed the “Backster Effect” and have been most famously discussed in “The Secret Life of Plants” by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. On view will be documentation and instruments from Backster’s experimentation over the years as well as his recently released (2003) book, “Primary Perception”.

Secret Life of Plants – John Lifton, Richard Lowenberg, Jim Wiseman, & Tom Zahuranec
The 1976 production of the feature film, The Secret Life of Plants, brought together pioneering artists, John Lifton, Richard Lowenberg, Jim Wiseman, & Tom Zahuranec for a dynamic collaboration between artists, cutting-edge technology and plants. The set included numerous live plants, six dance performers from the L.A. area, John Lifton and his plant music systems (“Green Music”), Jim Wiseman on Paik-Abe and Sandin video synthesizers/processors, Tom Zahuranec on a Tcherepnin audio synthesizer, and Richard Lowenberg facilitating performance sequences and interfacing multi-channel, FM bio-telemetry systems between the performers, the plants, and the audio-video systems. The choreographed audio and video performance was built incrementally, from one plant up to six monitored plants, while adding from one to six dancers wearing EEG and EMG sensor/transmitters. Documentation and instrumentation will be on display.

Vital Psigns – Center for Tactical Magic
Vital Psigns is a social experiment that seeks to address individual mind power and the potential for human/plant communication. The Vital Psigns installation includes three plants (positive, negative, and control) receiving equal soil, water, and light. Visitors are invited to take a few moments to relax in the presence of the plants and attempt to affect their growth using their mental energies. The cumulative effect on the plants over the course of the experiment is assessed at the close of the exhibition. Additionally, the CTM will be presenting a performance lecture exploring the magic and mystery of human/plant communication. Ranging from Moses’ consultation with a burning bush to the Pentagon’s recent development of “sentinel plants,” the CTM will provide a brief history of plants as purveyors of knowledge. Audience members will also participate in a live demonstration of extra-sensory perception mediated through the cooperation of living plants.

The Plant Media Project – Marc Herbst
The Plant Media Project does advertising for the Plant Media Network, a news channel broadcast and distributed by plants. Global in reach, plants serve as network reporters. It is an independent owner/operator network free from the bias of human consciousness. Its distribution channels and technology are not subject to the innate content limits of either state-owned or privately held networks; nor is it ruled by market-based logic. Its reporting is not affected by bureaucrats. While global in reach, each network reporter has a uniquely local perspective. Look for the Plant Media Project in the Silver Lake community, and seek out the Plant Media Network in your own environs.

Botanicalls – Kate Hartman, Kati London, Rebecca Bray, Rob Faludi
Botanicalls is a system that allows plants to place phone calls to people when they need help. Each plant has a different voice, and will call when in need water or light. They also make calls to thank you for watering them. Botanicalls was created by a team of four as a way for people to connect to their environment and to remember that we live in a wider ecosystem in which we share resources with other forms of life. The system uses innovative technical components such as ZigBee wireless radios and the Asterisk open source telephone system. For more information, see the Botanicalls website at www.botanicalls.com

Denise King – Mimosa Pudica Greenhouse
pudica (L). ashamed, bashful
A miniature, self-contained greenhouse is filled with “shy” plants. These plants intrigued Charles Darwin who studied their seismonastic movements (their ability to move rapidly in response to touch, electricity and heat.) Often marketed as ‘novelty’ plants that are fun for kids, they are still the subject of current research on their special method of movement. Visitors are invited to experience their movements first hand by gently touching them with a variety of implements, including their hands.

Herbal Apothecary & Tea Leaf-lets – Molly Frances/New Herbalist
Molly Frances (author of Arthur Magazine’s New Herbalist column) encourages communion with our mysterious herb friends, so small and unassuming, yet so powerful. Magical herbal elixirs, balmy tonics, sweet nervines, or simply tea will be shared with all. Accompanying “tea leaf-lets” and plant propaganda will lead visitors down the primrose path to herbal enlightenment.

Additional:
The Psychobotany exhibition will also highlight a variety other cultural expressions related to human/plant communication including: Druidry, peyote ceremonies, Sir Jagadis Chundra Bose, Terence McKenna, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), tree-sitters, and more!