Prague - December 6, 2012
Monika Bakke chaired a panel Vegetal Sensoria within International conference MutaMorphosis in Prague, Czech Republic.
Accepting the position that ‘to view plants as entirely disposable objects is to do them an injustice’ is becoming one of the new challenges facing us in the twentieth first century. We are now rediscovering plants as a result of the emergence of plant neurobiology generating discussions on ‘plant intelligence’, ‘root brains’, ‘plant memory’ and other phenomena related to plant signaling and communication. Scientific knowledge of plants, however, has also enabled and accelerated their technological use, although plants have been the subjects of biotech since the very beginning of agriculture. At the same time proposals concerning the ‘rights of plants’ and ‘plant dignity’ are being put forth in response to new contexts created by biotechnology that is re-shaping human-plant relations. A growing interest in our ethical approach to plants – their being considered as life forms with an inherent worth, and therefore deserving protection for their own sake – is now gaining visibility in both the humanities and in art practices. Methodology: The goal of this stream is to gather researchers, artists, designers, architects and others whose work involve plants both on a material and on a discursive level opening up a territory where the complexity of plant lives can be put forward and communicated to a wider public. Projects/proposals of interest to this stream should pose theoretical and practical questions concerning the use of plants as well as indicate and promote change in attitudes towards them. Research with the potential to challenge the mainstream anthropocentric approach to plants, usually based on instrumentalization, colonization, separation, and control, is particularly welcomed. Presentations may also directly or indirectly deal with plant related biotechnologies – implemented either in professional laboratories or in a do-it-yourself mode – and open up the possibilities of a more inclusive postnatural history of human-plant relations.