April Unblurred: signal to nose

signal to nose

April 5-26

Opening Night: Friday, April 5 from 6-10pm

Take a deep breath.

The air is full of signals. Take another breath. Can you feel it?

As a form of communication, plants release volatile compounds into the air – small broadcasts of airborne information. In moments of stress, compounds known as “green leaf volatiles” waft as warnings to nearby plants and insects. To the human nose, these notes go unnoticed, or register as a pleasant whiff of freshly cut grass. What if we were receptive to these notes of warning, these unseen signals all around us in the air?

In the exhibition space, these same green leaf volatiles released as warnings by plants are broadcast into the air as an olfactory transmission. Alongside this scent transmission is a simultaneous low power FM radio transmission, broadcasting another kind of airborne signal – the voices of youth climate activists. This radio transmission can be heard in or near the gallery by turning on a radio tuned into a designated FM frequency.

Throughout the exhibition, this radio playlist will evolve with the inclusion of audio collected from the public. What might we broadcast alongside the warnings of plants?

If you are interested in contributing to this ongoing playlist, please email signaltonose@gmail.com with your audio suggestions.

During the opening night, visitors will be invited to contribute to future broadcasts. A simple recording device will be set up, along with prompts for what someone might want to say. Suggestions for pre-recorded audio will also be made available.

The exhibition itself will also have an interactive component, as visitors will be encouraged to listen to the short broadcast using an FM radio with headphones. To get a good signals, visitors may have to move closer or further, adjusting their position to pick up the signal. Visitors will also participate by smelling the scents!

This is an interactive exhibition created by Lindsey French. An event on April 16, Nonnonsense Radio, will be presented by students from the University of Pittsburgh in conjunction with the exhibition. 
Lindsey is an artist and educator whose work engages in gestures of communication with landscapes and the nonhuman. Motivated by respectful collaboration with the natural world, she makes texts written in collaboration with trees, scent transmissions, and videos made for plant perception.  She has shared her work in places such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the International Museum of Surgical Science (Chicago), Pratt Manhattan Gallery (New York), and in conjunction with the International Symposium of Electronics Arts (Albuquerque and Vancouver). Her work has been featured in Leonardo, discussed on podcasts for Creative Disturbance and Bad at Sports, and in publications including Why Look at Plants (Brill, 2018) and Botanical Speculations (Cambridge Scholars, 2018). Lindsey currently teaches as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Studio Arts at the University Pittsburgh. She has had the pleasure of working with students in her Non-Visual Arts topics course to develop a one-night show in conjunction with the exhibition.

Read more about the other artists here.

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