THE GARDEN & THE BOTANIST
‘Botany, branch of biology that deals with the study of plants, including their structure, properties, and biochemical processes. Also included are plant classification and the study of plant diseases and of interactions with the environment.’ 1
‘An expert in or student of the scientific study of plants. ‘a botanist announced he’d bred a new and beautiful variety of orchid’’ 2
‘A piece of ground adjoining a house, in which grass, flowers, and shrubs may be grown. ‘children love playing in the garden’’ 3
FIRST CYCLE: BE ONE TO MAKE ONE
CUT TO: GARDEN, EXT. EARLY EVENING
In the frame we see a variety of greens bathed in a soft turquoise light. The frame is broken by an irregular presence of familiar sounds. We are in a rundown garden that seized to exist as a garden and ran into wilderness until a Lord cut his trees about thirty years ago and the plot was once again considered to be worthy of being a garden, or seen as something that had the right to be cultivated. The garden is partly overgrown with bushes and trees whose branches and twigs lay low and embrace each other in the spaces in between, with intuitive arms whose leaves make crisp sounds as cassette tape in the hands of a con artist. Their veins squeezes and frowns as the larvae makes its final move and cuts into the leaf with slimy, guttural sounds. It silently wishes it could eat louder, as to finally warn off the gardens ever circling predators once and for all.
CUT TO: INT. UNDERGROUND
The greens turn brown and the frame fogs up as the lens continuously make attempts to adjust to the change. Hues of greens and browns lay across the screen, flickering in unison when the image suddenly sharpens up as if clearing its goggles underground.
What are you doing? Where did you come from?
“How long do you intend to stay?’ […] ‘How much money do you carry with you?’ ‘In what currency?’ ‘Do you have a return ticket?’
I don’t know. Forgetfulness flowers here sometimes, the drug of adventurers. Make your way through the first layer, on a parallel map I am paradise, a desert or a delight, I am utopia. I am here together with you, the botanist and the camera. You moved in and I became something that needed to be comprehensible, something you could control – so you cut me of off and manipulated my form. I mean I wouldn’t be anything if you didn’t, but sometimes I wonder if you won control or if you lost it. I’m in the tropic of cancer. I am misty, damp and humid. I don’t know what cancer looks like but if its dark side means death, we have something in common.
You had to account for every move, arrival or exit. In the world there was a conspiracy against improvisation. It was only permitted in jazz.”
You already knew this but I guess the conspiracy became visible when you crossed it and images became the currency. You long to stay inside. You long for that breeze; that experience, that love. I am a voyage, I have seized to exist as a place, I exist as your desire and dream, your faith and death. I love you too but you are not my god. I think it’s honest.
SECOND CYCLE: LIVE AND LET ROT
CUT TO: INT. SKYSCRAPER, MID EVENING
Camera pans trough mud and into a raw space on the 18th floor of a skyscraper filled with deep green, large leaved plants. The sun is setting and yellow, orange, blue and violet filters through the dark stained glass onto the raw concrete floor and into the hunched, heavy leaves, calming the space in colours of sleep.
“Everything was novel. The green of the foliage was not like any other greens: it was deeper, lacquered, and moist. The leaves were heavier, fuller, the flowers bigger. They seemed surcharged with sap, and more alive, as if they never had to close against the frost, or even a colder night. As if they had no need of sleep.“
I am born to devour the dead. Slowly soaking them into the ground to fertilize the new. The speed is weather dependent. It is like you have forgotten how we work, the greens. Treasured for my beauty, I offer salvation for the eye and mind, but do you remember how it is to lie naked on the moss? Step onto the concrete floor and listen to your heart. I like to be discovered, to be rolled on and poked into.
“The lagoon on the left of the road showed a silver surface which sometimes turned to sepia. It was half filled with floating lagoon flowers. Trees and bushes seemed like new vegetation, also on stilts, dipping twisted roots into the water as the reeds dipped their straight and flexible roots. Herons stood on one leg. Iguanas slithered away, and parrots became hysterically gay.
CUT TO: INT. PLUMBING PIPES
Camera crawls through a sequence of shapeshifting pipes, from plumbing to roots.
I am green, red, purple and blue. I contain all the colours you have ever seen. We know I can protect you from the sun or mirror its radiance. I connect you to organic life. Your attempt to arrange and organize me seems to be a way of trying to understand and to free yourself from danger. It’s unclear when this happened but it became easier to see when the mowing machines were invented. Just take care to remember that I’m alive. Chilli might be the best cure.
“[…]chilli to wake them from their dreams, dreams born of scents and rhythms, and the warmth that fell from the sky like the fleeciest blanket. Even the twilight came without a change of temperature or alteration in the softness of the air. “
Cover me with your blanket. I am your vivid animated mural, bringing the stars closer. Cultivate me and connect to the ground you are going back into. The dome keeps the air soft, in a climate that is not my own. I wonder who the real ones are.
‘I can’t decide which of the drugs you need: the one for forgetting or the one for remembering’
Me neither…we are multitudes co-existing in a micro universe. I creep up on your wall while I peel out stucco and push bricks apart. You can snap me off, cut me into sections and trim me down to match your fence, your façade or your neighbour, you can make me forget but I will never stop. I grasp for any little space there is. I penetrate your boundaries and escape into light. There is no need for a fence or forgetting.
CUT TO: INT. SKYSCRAPER, LATE EVENING
The camera is parallel to the windows. A person can be seen at the very end of the space, back to the camera, touching the wall. Then he speaks loud but softly;
“They were too charged with essences, with penetrating essences like the newest drugs which altered the chemistry of the body. The softness entered the nerves, the beauty surrounded and enveloped the thoughts. […] “
Season’s change, I die, bloom and die again. Plant me, forget me, forget me not, then look up instead of down. The rain lifts the essence of dirt; I stir the air around you, I shrink and expand according to your vision, your need or neglect. I change, and time morph every year into tunnels of events, journeys and thoughts. It’s a cycle. You should worry more about the repetition of schedules, rush hours and daily feeds. But well, perhaps it is the painful repetition of tasks that need to be performed in order to keep me at bay that are the ones that will save you in the end. Whether I am a dry landscape, a botanical beast or a pot in your windowsill. Dig your hand deep into the earth, swallow it and let go.
THIRD CYCLE: THE TEMPEST
‘Seduction Of The Minotaur’ by Anaïs Nin, Penguin Books, London, 1993; The Official, p. 5 & The Botanist, p.5, 9, 10, 14, 31, 33
Annee Grøtte Viken; The Garden
Special thanks to TMBR Assembly and *Derek Jarman, Modern Nature
Postcard (upside down): Ravello, Rufolo Villa, Gardens seen from the height. ediz. Carlo Cicalese – Ravello
Image: The growing tip of a fine root – By Clematis [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons