10:09, colour, stereo, Canada/Italy, 2021
Vision is somatic, of the body. In humans, vision is a dominant sense for most people and can feel indistinguishable from the mind when thoughts, judgements, and reactions are unconsciously triggered through visual experiences. Together, vision and mind can block deeper understandings of phenomena and lead to misinformed actions if intentionally looking beyond the illusory surface of things is not pursued. When we consciously imagine how plants might perceive in ways similar to and different than our own, humans extend beyond anthropocentric perception and behaviour to make space for empathetic relations with the aliveness of the vegetal world with whom we share life on the planet, and who, in turn, perceive humans via their own unique, botanically embodied ways of being.
Perception and intelligence in plant life has been gaining scientific attention and recognition in recent decades. gestures toward Plant Vision offers a cinematic meditation on how plants might visually perceive their worlds and inspires viewers to consider other ways trees and plants, in all their varieties, might neurobiologically create images to see in stillness, motion, layers, form, colour, light, shadow, and/or time. The film’s audio in turn invites consideration of how plants might be aware of and perceive sound in their environments, and includes contemplation on the hypothesis of plant vision by Dr. Paco Calvo, a leader in philosophy of plant neurobiology, behaviour and signalling, and Principle Investigator of the Minimal Intelligence Lab at the Universidad de Murcia, Spain. Once the human is finished speaking in the film, a quiet simplicity makes space for the plants and for inspirational contemplation on other ways plants might perceive visually and sonically.
Imagery and sound for the film were collected and created at the Workshop on Art, Nature, and Technology 2016 led by plant scientist Dr. Stefano Mancuso and held at the garden home of Daniel Spoerri in Tuscany, Italy.