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O Magazine

image, video and soundtrack of a plant.


Henry J. Darger

Hi there, I’m your plant. I’ve managed, with great effort and patience, for my leaves to emerge from that yellowish 220V-AC multi-socket adaptor and for my stalk to connect with the remnants of your abandoned Xbox. I wonder, while I sacrifice my annihilated-by-radiation fruits, whether my branches protect the screen of your MacBook Pro efficiently enough, whether I’ve achieved all the <3 you project on your Instagram pics and whether I’m for you something more than a mere #aesthetics tag in Tumblr. I sense by the carelessness of your cares that you’re going to change me for a fern or a cactus now the Chinese shop in your neighbourhood sells them at five euros.

All this free time over a fucking Ikea 9,99 euro shelf has made me sullen and short-tempered. I don’t give a shit that the sexy yucca that appeared about a month ago in the corner of the living room is about to die; you just can’t give your back to reality as she did, behaving like a naturans naturans diva in this century. LOL. Idiot.

Me anguished about all of you, neurotic, paranoid, worried about the imminent disappearance of the species and you smiling on camera. If all present things are transitory and fluid, #liquid as they all love to say, it’s obvious that we could have anticipated their disappearance. I’m more or less resigned to it; I don’t feel uneasy about disappearing myself. Art, at the end of the day, didn’t do so badly. It’s our contemporary musical representation what bugs me. All those music videos, record covers, installations, photographs and Photoshop collages with plants as decoration of the social ruin that human life is.

Ecofuturism: image, video and soundtrack of a plant – O Production Company
Ecofuturism: image, video and soundtrack of a plant – O Production Company

I wonder whether this humanity, always sneaky, might now be canalising a romantic nostalgia for nature; the type of nature present in those tedious artworks that now show up in low-res images. Equalling the feeling of being surrounded by nature and the feeling of being surrounded by images of nature. They didn’t have enough absurdity with the obsolescence of the first modern era, those ridiculously aged infrastructures, useless monorail or train stations in parks and gardens… now they try to impose vegetable design aesthetics on their communication technologies and mediocre music.

Computers and TV sets as plant pots, creepers and palm trees everywhere. What hypocrisy! The need to represent a technological production linked to ruthless capitalism as nature performance + soundtrack. If every aesthetic event imitates death and the disappearance of a contemporary life order, it’s now, my dearest plants, my sisters, when we should start trembling with this ecofuturistic music style.

It’s paradoxical, and even anachronistic, for this virtual imitation of a denaturalised future to be based on a vegetable image. If you remember nineties’ activist and artistic ecological drifts, obsessed with the re-conceptualisation of the limits of representation through those travelling exhibitions based in small greenhouses hanging from the ceiling as frozen pigs, you will know that you haven’t evolved at all, or only a little, since Boltanski’s subliminal-art and the notion of natural threat caused by the expense or waste of human disposal. What are you trying to do now with these images? Nature trapped by the symbolic capital flow? Are your #devices the sad imaginary siege to nature?

It’s obvious that garbage is full of historical information but we don’t need a musical genre tagged as #musicforplants surrounded by propaganda based on the exploitation of our image to be remembered in a post-technological animal life. I don’t know what differences you might find between Mort Garson’s 1976 album Plantasia and the references of the label Eco Futurism Corporation.

That thing you call Vaporwave, pretentious term originated in a Marxist showy terminology, is no more than the appropriation of samples with some new age hues. You think it’s the first musical genre born from a globalised 2010 or completely delocalised, impossible to track thanks to anonymous producers, and nevertheless, Brian Eno, Lopatin or James Ferraro already got the honours.

The labels applied to the genre itself go from Japanese pop ballads turned funk and neo-soul to lift or mall ambient music with jazzy influences. And you have also decided to call it #musicforplants and make it viral in a constant recreation going from drum&bass to grime or to trap. But without changing a single aesthetic reference, fuck it! To put it another way: each video, album, cover or paratextual image with which its producers identify themselves comes from a closed grammar and anonymous references. That’s why we are the victims, because belonging to the genre is not produced by musical fitness, but on the contrary: for the “vegetable and shabby” aesthetics becoming so popular on the net.

An in this tiresome aesthetics (now already extended to furniture and textile articles) you dare show time and time again the image of a repeated landscape, codified and surprisingly utopian. We will have to stand becoming part of the digital age, which will obviously be future history, as something tacky combined with Gothic lettering, a ruinous 3D and the taste for the first net art works. We will be landscapes and plants ransacked by communication tools in a taste for archaeology, kitsch, logomania and glitter.

When topography, views and even painting have stopped being romantic, this barricade of electronic music and net art goes back to romanticism in a decadent phase that has nothing to do with the subject, but with the web itself or communication possibility, url for url’s sake.

The harmonic and the Gothic, the desert, gardens, Palladian temples, oceans or misty mountains appear in this imaginary through the allegory of the sublime landscape in a mythical relationship with canonical representations. In your images I see Paul Delvaux and Arnold Bloklin, Magritte’s surrealism and the work of Otto Runge, all of them with a firm respect for nature. However, you only see #aesthetics and #newecology. Already in Land Art, as in your vaporwave imaginary, visual quotes were elements of simple appropriation linked to a primitive antiquity that allowed connecting with the main bases of culture form the other end of history. Those deleted references that reinterpret archaeological ruins are the same that you try to politically activate in the gestures of this new bio aesthetics. Do you manage to?

Now, all young guys want to have a calabash at home, take pics in the best-lighted corners of their minimal apartments with their kentia. They exploit us because a certain viral image conceives us again as a cool ornament. I don’t want to go on talking about this, I will try to reconcile our end with the idea that plants, at least today, are an important element of viral image and culture. AT LEAST we’re part of YouTube, and we have found a place for all calabashes and spider plants in the territory of symbols. Forever and ever.