Garden of Persistence, installation view: Hypothesis: Everything is Leaf, Foto Wien, Atelier Augarten, Vienna, Austria, 2022, image by Zalán Péter Salát and Csaba Villányi
Kinetic table, wood, steel wire, magnets, antique metronomes, 19th century herbarium specimens (unique)
40 x 78 x 47 in.
Vegetal and human temporality are not identical. The essence of human ontology does not originate from our life itself, but its finiteness. Plants are not aware of their own finiteness; therefore they entirely subordinate their existence to life itself. The rhythm of human time consciousness is confused and heterogeneous. In addition, human beings are actually never identical with themselves – our temporality is nothing other than continuous planning, a constant projection of our future self. In contrast, the lack of self-awareness obliges a plant to adjust exclusively to the temporality of its medium, i.e. that it should unceasingly obey the laws of its environment. The succession of night and day, the changing seasons, the constant repetition that accompany growth, the continual self-hiatus and resumption, and the rhythm of cyclic character all represent vegetal chronology, the image of Nietzsche’s eternal return (Ewige Wiederkunft). So a vegetal body exists according to a different time compared with a human body, yet its existence is still fragile and finite. Thus, we can also feel its significance. In The Metamorphosis of Plants Goethe emphasises the rhythm of growth and metamorphosis. The continual reaction to the rhythm of the environment and the flow of nutrients resemble a tune. The mechanical synchronisation of processes are like music.
The Garden of Persistence is a kinetic installation. Fifteen antique metronomes are standing on the surface of a table which is floating and moving on steel wires. Plants from 19th-century herbaria are closely attached to each pendulum of the metronomes. The metronome-plants, i.e. the mechanical-organic units, begin to communicate with each other “chaotically” after they start to move having been wound up. Thus a connection is established among them due to the transmission of their kinetic energy and they slowly become synchronized with one another. Yet they nearly immediately lose the synchronous movement, although they find it again, and so on as the pattern repeats itself. There are several examples of synchronization in vegetal communication and in the mode of vegetal existence in general. It is also the cause of the periodical flashing of light produced by fireflies, the simultaneous chirping of crickets, the synchronized distress signals of frogs and the interlinking lightning activity in distant storm centres. The principle of synchronization also explains why the parts, moreover the cells of a healthy human and a non-human heart beat synchronously.