the birds the bees the flowers and the seeds

the birds the bees the flowers and the seeds is a narrative exploration of the relationship between desire, violence, and the uncanny, set in an installation space that is presented as a future garden. In this piece, a series of spoken fictional “scores” pipe through speakers that double as flower pots. Each of the scores begins with some version of the statement, “It is the future, you live in a future garden. You live in a beautiful garden of the future.” These scores narrate a scenario where, although the garden is very beautiful and you have everything you need, you also miss certain people who are not in the garden, people you love and desire. Or you might need to select new mates to further your species.

Visitors are told that the future garden they find themselves in is a communication technology, or memory device. The audio scores instruct visitors to engage various objects — such as seeds: to place them in the soil, poppy pods: to pull of their tops and toss them, snips: to run over the flowers — as a way to contact a lost love, or select new mates. The RFID-embedded objects and their engagement catalyze a dissociative, and uncanny effect, for the garden’s seeds are actually bullets, the poppy pods, so used, seem like grenades, and the flower snips are actually military wire cutters (indeed, the installation as a whole displays both garden and state military aesthetics). When this piece was shown in the Spring of 2008, the engagement of the various objects that were both garden-like and violent, triggered brief news clips from the current war in Iraq, which temporarily interrupted the narrative scenarios. The initial narrative scenarios introduce plots that revolve around longing, love and memory in an ambiguous, sci-fi future; hence, the triggered war news clips extend and trouble the initial narratives, which are born of deceptive beauty. Desires narrated in the future garden, then, collide with true stories of death and destruction outside the garden, creating deeply uncomfortable associations within the narratives, alluding to the positions and movements of bodies in wired spaces of security and those in violent, unpredictable spaces. It challenges the limits of love. At its most disturbing, the piece asks to what degree the garden — perhaps not metaphorical but very literal — is nourished by this violence.

Detail from The Birds the Bees the Flowers and the Seeds. Cultivating Strategy, White Gallery, Eldorado, Kansas.
Detail from The Birds the Bees the Flowers and the Seeds. Analogous, National Juried Exhibition, Curated by Lucy Lippard.
Dangerous Fiction: The Body, Desire, and Narrative. ISEA Singapore.
The Birds the Bees the Flowers and the Seeds. Superlight, 01SJ Biennial Exhibition of Art on the Edge at The San Jose Museum of Art.
The Birds the Bees the Flowers and the Seeds. Bureau of Disruptions, Digital Arts and New Media MFA Program.