Latitude: +41.8781° N°
The Radius soundcamp inside a Greenhouse at the University of Illinois at Chicago in collaboration with Lindsey French
Think of a plant. Is it a tree? Or is it a houseplant?
The ground is the basis of the terrestrial environment, where the normative plant is rooted. Without the ground there would be no sky, or without the sky we would know no ground. The ground is our grounds of habitation and habit. We habitually water our houseplants. Plants turn the air into ground. Plants disappear into the background. Plants are the background, but they transmit promiscuous signals and receive them, too. When the glaciers melted they deposited seeds.
The midwest is a flattened ground, a hosting substrate of swampy soil, a flatness between the coasts. Chicago sits atop this plane, a plain that was the bottom of the ancient glacial Lake Chicago. Imagine tall trees in a swamp. Chicago’s early skyscrapers floated on clay, the floors now tilting, artifacts of settling into the uneven and shifting layers of muddy glacial deposit. Midway through the century an attachment to the bedrock anchored new buildings taller and upright, this attachment affording their heroic reach upward. The tallest building in Chicago is tallest at its antenna.
An epiphyte is a type of plant that has no attachment to the ground. Growing on trees or other raised surfaces, the relationship is neither symbiotic nor parasitic. The roots of an epiphyte seek darkness, extending downward along the surfaces of its grounded hosts toward the shade of the forest floor. Epiphytes are over-represented in the houseplant world, as they can withstand the darker interiors of buildings. The houseplants in Chicago recede into the interiors of buildings attached to the bedrock beneath the city’s flat glacial lake or floating precariously on slabs of swampy clay.
Lindsey french’s non attachment to the ground reaches down in non-attachment to the ground, a promiscuous transmission in an extended moment of transition and cautious optimism to the bedrock beneath Chicago.
Lindsey french is an artist and educator whose work engages in gestures of communication with landscapes and the nonhuman. Her practice is an open series of projects and research aimed toward decentering a human-centric experience to practice and propose alternatives to human-centered ecosystems. She finds her role as a human in a global ecosystem contingent, uncertain. From this profound vulnerability, French practices new myths of identity, asserts quiet opposition, hovers in the slippages between self and environment, and engages in practices of active and sensual listening.
She situates herself sensually in different roles among plants, landscapes, and other materials as media, message, and facilitator of communication. Embracing a number of mediation strategies, her projects materialize as texts written in collaboration with trees, material exchanges across skin, video performances of attempted dialogues with the landscape, and sound installations of distant and displaced forests.
french currently teaches courses that explore new media practices and site specific research at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Art and Technology Studies, Sculpture, and Contemporary Practices Departments.
Radius Episode 73 will be performed, broadcast, and recorded live at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Greenhouse and Plant Research Laboratory on Sunday May 1, 2016 at 5:30am CST in partnership with SoundCamp / REVEIL, a 24-hour radio broadcast that tracks the sunrise around the globe, and Uptool, a programming series that highlights the work of cultural producers who find themselves engaging the edges of anthropology, ecology, and the arts.
*Proceeding the event, a live audio recording will be released online at theradius.us/episode73.
Episode 73 is the first episode of GROUND. GROUND is a three-part, site-specific commissioned radio series that focuses on radio’s direct physical connection to the Earth.