Alison Bennett, vegetal/digital, photogrammetry point-clouds, 2021
- Verge Gallery, University of Sydney, 13 Jan – 4 Feb 2022
Exploring vegetal thinking, digital gardening and post-human neuroqueer phenomenology through the affordances of expanded photography, artist Alison Bennett considers Australian native flowers as celestial encounters. Slowly rotating 3D point-clouds of floral forms coalesce and dissolve – the authenticity of the image as loosely aligned imprecise points of reference folded into the immersive field of extended reality mediation. Rendered as point-cloud models, foliage structures resonate as vibrant matter, testing the affordances of the digital image as a field of thinking.
Arising out of the heightened sensory perceptions of extended lock-down, this creative investigation began through contemplation of flowering street-trees. Through 262 days of lock-down, residents of Melbourne retreated to the hyper-local, often reinforced by a 5 kilometer travel bubble and a one-hour daily time-limit outdoors. The sublime ephemeral springtime flowers of street-trees were amplified by the extreme sensory and social constraints of social distancing. Drawing us into a suspended moment of slow encounter, we attuned to the contained glowing pulse of plants.
In this project, Bennett engages with ‘vegetal thinking’, a concept of critical plant studies that considers our symbiotic relationship with plants (Gibson 2018). This theoretical context is placed alongside the practice of ‘digital gardening’, of “seeds of thought cultivated in public” (Ness Labs) through slow thinking and organic speculation. Indeed, these domains of the vegetal and digital come together in post-human philosophy (Haraway 2016) and notions of compost and soil, seeking to subvert subject/object dichotomies. Mediated through an autistic queer lens (Yergeau 2018), Bennett’s work sides with the object, creating encounters that collapse the spectral, floral and machinic.