Christchurch Botanic Gardens, NZ
Consisting of a sound installation and an interactive multisensory game, Garden of Sensory Exchange draws our attention to the elements of life that often escape our visual sensors. Based in the Fragrant Garden in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, the site specific work captures and amplifies some of the unseen networks of sensory communication within and between species, present and past: from sonic messages shared by organisms in the soil to the chemosensory signals sent by flowers and humans that generate life.
The sound installation, played from speakers set within the pergola, comprises recordings of human and more-than-human nonverbal sensory communication. This starts literally from the ground up, with recordings made using a geophone of the minute vibrations of organisms in the soil. The installation amplifies sounds present at the site such as the worms under the soil, as well as those – such as the song of the tūī and taonga pūoro – that have been largely lost to the area through colonising activities.
Garden of Sensory Exchange also features an interactive multisensory game, which requires visitors to engage in their own crossmodal sensory communication. Crossmodal correspondences are the sometimes-surprising associations people experience between stimuli encountered through different senses, for example the smell of citrus is widely matched with high pitches. The artist also worked with a number of schools in an education programme, where students made a range of scented objects to initiate their own games of sensory exchange.
Images commissioned by SCAPE Public Art. Further documentation about the installation and the SCAPE Public Art Season 2022 can be found here.