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Source: City of Nottingham

Plant Blindness is a unique and immersive sound installation in the Camellia House at Wollaton Hall by Jason Singh, which uses naturally occurring ‘biodata’ from plants to create a musical composition.

Plant Blindness: Jason Singh
21 September 2019 to Spring 2020
The Camellia House, Wollaton Hall Natural History Museum & Deer Park

Fresh from performing at the BBC Proms, artist, musician, beatboxer, and composer Jason Singh has created, in his own inimitable way, an auditory response to Wollaton, which opens for free in the Camellia House from Saturday 21 September on Heritage Open Day weekend.

Initially drawn to the beautiful architecture and acoustics of the glass house, a short residency enabled Singh to develop his ideas and he became inspired by the conditions in which the Camellia plants are grown.

The term ‘Plant blindness’ is the inability to notice nature in our own immediate environment: the plants and wildlife right in front of us, in plain view.  This new installation aims to draw our attention to the inaudible living organisms at Wollaton Hall by giving them a ‘voice’ through sound and art.

Jason Singh records naturally occurring electrical currents – known as biodata – which are omitted from the Camellias.  Each plant, and each leaf, has a distinct ‘sound’ due to its location and interaction with its environment. By placing probes on the leaves, Singh converts such fluctuations into messages that can be read by synthesizers and computers. The end result is a composition of natural rhythms, tones and notes of the plants themselves. 

Speaking of his explorations in the Camellia House, Singh comments: “When I first encountered this space, my thoughts of exploration were on what kind of ‘music’ might the plants generate using the biodata sensors? What would it sound like? Would it be fast or slow? Would the music have a particular mood? Would they even generate anything at all? What transpired [on the residency] was something quite different to what I was expecting… what really inspired me was that it made people talk, reflect, question and discuss… I want to explore the health of the plants and ways this might get people to reflect on their own health and well-being.”

The installation comprises of four recordings – one from each flower bed. Together they capture the different “moods” of the plant at various points during the day.  The ‘plant music’ invites us all to immerse ourselves in the sound. The haunting sounds crossfade from one speaker to the next, reflecting on the state of the health of each plant, Singh uses raw, unedited data through a computer which creates “angular, percussive, and frantic melodies”.

Cllr Dave Trimble, Portfolio holder for Leisure, Culture and IT at Nottingham City Council said: “This is a fantastic, engaging and innovative use of the grounds at Wollaton Hall.  We are immensely proud of our parks, and through art and sound to enhance the natural beauty of the carefully attended gardens, plants and parklands; Jason Singh has created a wonderful, meaningful new addition to Wollaton’s historic Camellia House which visitors of all ages can enjoy for free”.

Special ‘Live’ Performance – 21 and 22 September
On Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September, as part of Heritage Open Days, there will be live “performances” of Plant Blindness inside the Camellia House between 11am and 3pm. Accompanied by instrumentalists Georgie Pope (Harp) and Martin Pyne (Vibraphone), Jason will use the natural resonant qualities of the Camellia House to amplify the music. This opportunity can only be experienced to be believed, as audience, plant and music merge in one place.

Plant Blindness: Jason Singh has been curated by Tristram Aver, and has been generously supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

For further information, and how to book onto the Press Preview, please contact Exhibitions Curator Tristram Aver: Tristram.aver@nottinghamcity.gov.uk 07874 795182

Notes
Jason Singh is a composer, musician, sound artist, creative producer, facilitator and performer.
He is a solo artist and collaborator who works across a wide range of art forms, music genres and education practices.  His diverse creative output includes: unique live beatbox film scores; sound installations; sound design for gallery/museum exhibitions; and collaborative experiments with sound, ceramics, textiles and museum objects. He also recreates birdsong and entire forestry environments vocally, and his work has featured on the BBC Proms, Springwatch and CountryFile.  
Jason was recently appointed as Bristol Music Trust’s first Artist and Educator in Residence. He was Artist in Residence for Hull City of Culture in 2017, and an awardee of the PRS New Music Biennial Award and Associate Artist with Fermynwood Contemporary Arts. 
Digby Willoughby, the 9th Baron Middleton and former owner of Wollaton, built this lavish cast iron glass house in 1827 to house his collection of Camellias.

Plant Blindness is free* and open daily**.  The Camellia House is located within the formal gardens, behind the Hall.
*parking charges apply
** Please allow for seasonal variations and special events. 
Check website for details www.wollatonhall.org.uk

MIL OSI United Kingdom