The flowers I have never seen in my garden is a digital exhibition featuring works by Chris Golden, Sabrina Ratté, Mohsen Hazrati, and Lauren Moffatt. Constructed in the free-floating space of Mozilla Hubs, the works on view utilize this programmable backdrop to examine how gardens might appear in the wake of ecological and social cataclysms.
These flowers, the works on view, are not invisible, so much as hypothetical, speculative. Each work contributed, each virtual garden plot, extends into all the others, creating a network of virtual pathways that unfold sequentially, like the illustrations of an idea that is carefully trying to prove itself.
The exhibition does not claim to be an online gallery space, or even a three-dimensional archive, but acts more like a herbarium populated with anthropomorphized flora. A kind of new world is invoked where mechanism and finality mingle, not in the manner of a futuristic cyborg, but in a way where human history and natural history as we know them overgrow into a parallel reality that shares the same concerns as ours. Questions of ecological preservation, identity and its relationship to memory, and the threat of mass extinction are duly addressed. Only here, the familiar solutions offered by our world are placed in parentheses.
Chris Golden‘s Aura Garden, for example, treats of memory – only here memory is invaded by a sort of aural shimmer that translates the dynamics of floral growth into a psychedelic reflection of the calmness in nature. Through a mingling of visuality and sound, the viewer is confronted by the notion that “moments”, even at their most epiphanic, are nothing more than contingent human constructs.
Sabrina Ratté‘s Floralia offers a speculative natural history through a graduated and precise process of segmentation and reconstruction. Simulating the fusion of technology and organic matter, the work plunges the viewer into a speculative future, where samples of extinct plant species are preserved and displayed in a virtual archive room. Through editing and visual strategies, this archive room is sporadically transformed under the effect of interference caused by the memory emanating from the listed plants, revealing traces of the past that continue to haunt the present.
Mohsen Hazrati, the architect of this Hubs environment, uses the utopian space of the virtual to revisit the history of technology. Taking the ancient Iranian innovation of using wine and other stringents (lemons, vinegar) to generate small volts of electricity, Hazrati has realized a 3D recreation of this pioneering ancient technology. The fruits that spark this device to life are wholly virtual, but have a practical, effective existence within an imaginarium modeled to look like a garden.
Lauren Moffatt, for her contribution, plays off of the tension that obtains between augmented reality and virtual reality. Her Flowers for Suzanne Clair (named after a secondary character in J. G. Ballard’s disaster fiction novel The Crystal World) creates a strange type of organic digitality which pivots on a process of collecting and digitizing plant specimens through an exchange between the physical and the virtual. Fusing photographic details of flowers with aleatory textures, these fictive plant species are windows to alterity glimpsed through a prism of biological life.
Staging, ultimately, is essential to what is happening throughout The flowers I have never seen in my garden. Looking at the the digital species the show models itself around, history itself becomes heavy with an unsettling inertia; and the concept of “nature” becomes mechanized to a point where we can almost peer past it, towards a sentient nothingness that defies the logic of temporal descriptors.
The flowers I have never seen in my garden is curated and designed by George Vitale (synthesis gallery) and produced by Cosmic Rays.