I began working with a houseplant from my studio in 2015. In the beginning, we sat together, often for hours at a time. I wanted to collaborate with the plant. With our meetings as a point of departure, I created a series of sculptures based on the impressions the plant gave me.
It felt natural to converse with the plant, but what should we converse about? I felt it would be easier with a form of bodily conversation. I tried to imagine the plant breathing. I focused on my breath, air streaming down my windpipe and out of my nostrils. I imagined the plant breathing the same air through its pores.
During this time, I began experimenting with an EEG-machine. I observed my brainwaves and listened to them. I felt inclined to listen to the plant’s electrical signals. The EEG-machine became an additional mode of conversation – I could listen to the plant’s signals and it could feel the vibrations from my brainwaves due to the machine translating them to sound.
Listening to each other’s electrical signals was helpful for the collaboration, but I had a feeling that it would be easier to relate to the plant if it could move. I decided to build robotic legs, that the plant could control with its electrical signals. This «plant prosthesis» is a project in continuous development, with the assistance of professionals within the fields of electronics and electrophysiology.
The plant, like my cat, like my wife, are all individuals that I try and connect with. What do they want? What are they attempting to communicate? We can’t understand each other completely. We can’t share everything, but we can share the relation we have with each other. We constantly communicate with discreet signals. And in the contact we share signals can begin to resonate.
Daniel Slåttnes lives and works between Oslo and Västra Ämtervik, Sweden. He completed his MFA at the Art Academy of Oslo in 2014. Recent exhibitions include Conversations Between Bodies (with Sara Rönnbäck), BOA in Oslo in 2017: Seances with Materials, Podium in Oslo and Hotel Pro Forma in Copenhagen 2015, Platform 1-12 Slovakia in 2017.
Slåttnes works with «performative sculptures» to explore boundaries between the artistic input and the materials he works with. Slåttnes is currently working on a series of sculptures in collaboration with a houseplant. Since 2014, he has been going to a psychotherapist in Oslo with the goal to see my sculptures as subjects. I am now in a period with research for an exhibition next year that will include technological solutions to connect with the sculptures. Upcoming exhibitions in 2017 @ Oslo Project Space, Gallery BOA, Platform 1-12 and Gallery Ask.