The Quivering of the Reed

Installation. Plant or tree, beamer, DC motor, spot light and paper screen. Variable dimensions.

The Quivering of the Reed is an installation that merges together experimental scientific practices with early moving image devices. A pot of cat-grass — a fast-growing assemblage of grass, soil nutrients and water, designed as a scaled down and domestic form of pasture — is placed on top of a rotating platform in between a source of light and a projection screen made of millimetric paper. The shadows produced by the rotating plants on the screen create an endless stream of ever-changing images.

Camera-less. This material form of vegetal filmmaking is complemented by a sequence of subtitles. These take a sentence by Andrei Tarkovsky as a starting point: "Just as from the quivering of a reed you can tell what sort of current, what pressure there is in a river, in the same way we know the movement of time from the flow of the life-process reproduced in the shot". The projected text inverts, however, the filmmaker's statement: the movement of time in media shapes and transforms the living by measuring and creating new conditions of manipulation.

Film-less. Devised as the encounter of three surfaces — the leaves of the plant, the millimetric paper and the projected subtitles — the installation exposes a very particular form of synchronisation: the plant occupies the position of the film reel, it registers light as well as it produces images. In rotation, it becomes a planetary diagram. An imaging planet, from the deep time of the moving images, facing the temporality of mechanical extractivity.