One Last Perfect Day

Un último día perfecto
Created between 2019 and 2021 and exhibited in the MAMM (Medellin Modern Art Museum) under the curatorship and production of Jorge Barco. September 2021-March 2022, Medellín, Colombia
Duration of the video exhibited in loop: 09m57s
Duration of the sound installation projected in loop: 34m35s
Consists of a small beet crop of 12 plants, an artificial lighting system, a multichannel installation, a transducer device connected to an open microphone, and a video  

One Last Perfect Day is an installation based on the analysis of acoustic reception and vibration by plants. Here, a beet crop grows using artificial light sound as vibrating stimulation. This piece invites us to consider how human beings relate to the universe through plants.

In this installation, horticulture is presented as a device of joy, pleasure, resistance, and autonomy in the face of an uncertain future. Here, the violet light of the lamps and a video of the sun, the sine waves, the foley sounds and the human voice, convert the gallery into a space of nourishment, contemplation and deep listening. This installation presents a space of sensorial subjectivity where the reception of sound and light of plants and humans converge. 

The sounds

The acoustic stimulation for the beets is produced by a multichannel piece and by a transducer connected to a microphone open to the public. Here, visitors are invited to stimulate the growth of the plants through the vibration of their voices. 

The sounds of the composition, consist of four sources based on scientific theories.

1) According to the research by scientist Dan Carlson, plants show special sensitivity to sine waves, particularly those with frequencies above 3000 Hertz (Hz), which can accelerate growth, increase crop volume, stimulate leaf and flower development, improve disease resistance and increase nutrient uptake, among other things. These frequencies open the stomata or pores of the epidermis of stems and leaves, allowing for better absorption of nitrogen, water, and other essential substances.

2) Plants have a positive response to the sounds that insects made when they chew. Furthermore, many insect species use vegetables to amplify and transduce their sounds which are often imperceptible because of their low frequencies (100 Hz and 250 Hz, are ). To recreate these insect sounds, I worked with cooking sounds of different beet preparations that I engage with as Foley. 

3) Vegetables produce vibrations ranging between 20 Hz and 100 Hz when they are thirsty as a consequence of a process known as cavitation where air bubbles form and implode in the xylem tubes.

The video and the lamps

The two lamps project a combination of frequencies that create a violet light that feeds the plants with artificial light. This colour has a soothing effect on humans creating a space where the well-being of vegetables and the spectators can converge. For the video, I processed a speeded-up NASA documentation of the sun using a violet filter. The video presents the sun rotating for 18 months. The idea of the video originates when the Beijing mayoralty projected an image of the sun on giant screens placed in public spaces. Because of the high levels of contamination, in the streets, the sun could not be seen. The video refers to the inhospitable light conditions of the room creating sensorial correspondences with the lamps. The circularity of the rotation of the sun in the video creates a connection with the sine tones of the sound composition. The explosions of the solar flares, produce interesting equivalences with the designed sounds of insects chewing. 

 The title One Last Perfect Day is a quote from Carl Sagan about a 

“Some 5 billion years from now, there will be a last perfect day on Earth… then the sun will begin to die, life will be extinguished, the oceans will boil and evaporate away.” 

The beets

The selection of beetroot as artistic material in this piece surges after my interest in its unique taste, colour and shape, and after its great nutritional and medicinal value. 

In my research, I learned that most beets varieties are relatively easy to grow indoors if they receive sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. Additionally, they require to be planted in well-drained soil, ideally fertilized with phosphorus and potassium. Watering is also a key aspect, considering that beets are thirsty vegetables, particularly in warm temperatures. Proper drainage is also vital as a consequence of their lengthy roots. 

Jeanne McHale is a PhD in physical chemistry who works with betanin to develop sustainable solar energy systems. Betanin is the component that gives them their unique colour. McHale aims to replace the toxic photovoltaic cells which make current systems unsustainable. The research of McHale eventually could alleviate the energy crisis that is a leading cause of the current climate crisis. 

Betanin stimulates the blood flow to the brain improving cognitive functions, as is suggested by chemistry researchers Li-June Ming and DM Jonathan Burdette. Ming studies the composition of betanin to slow down the speed at which Alzheimer attacks the brain. This disease occurs when the energy reserve accumulated in the brain decreases, and the brain can no longer counteract the detrimental effects of entropy. Considering the ongoing Alzheimer epidemic, the research of Ming could benefit millions and save thousands of lives, considering the most recent public health statistics reveal.

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