EVOLUTION: A WALK [WITH HERBIVORES]

“scented, sexy, queer and dark” Helen Paris, curious.com

First presented at Performance Studies 19, Stanford USA 27 – 30 June 2013.

Evolution: A Walk [with Herbivores] is a site responsive audio tour for small groups of two or more.

This work was presented as part of a triptych of short live art works along with  In the Waiting Room: Needling Clitorides Histories and Fieldwork: Empathic Limb Clinic. All these works are flexible, site responsive, suitcase ready and available to tour.

This audio tour leads participants on a walk through evolution from cyanobacteria to Homo sapiens and onward to highlight recent discoveries in plant signalling and adaptive behaviour and reassess the hierarchies of the Eukaryotic Kingdom of Life. The walk includes an act of assisted procreation between humans and plants and a reclining  meditation from the Voice of Plant Consciousness. Participants wear a Herbivore Suit made of a disposable protective layer covered with the delimbed leaves of a local colonising plant – in this case, fennel.  The suit emits volatile chemical signals (scents) to surrounding phyto lifeforms and warns of the approach of an herbivore as an act of clear communication from the wearer.  The suit, in turn, protects the wearer from the active potentials of received volatile chemical responses from surrounding phyto lifeforms. The experience mixes humour, new information and a deeply relaxing moment with nature.  Audiences have been delighted, surprised and curious for more scientific information. Conceived, written and performed by Cat Jones with sound by Melissa Hunt.

WIRED LAB OPEN DAY 2014 A bespoke commissioned audio tour of Wired Lab grassy woodlands country. Herbivores wore a suit augmented with Grey Box Gum leaves and their resulting olfactory signals, engaged in inter-species sex with native grasses, devoured their own DNA in a local salad from the Kurrajong and entered an unplanned group parenting scenario with a painful embryo as well as other contemplative experiences endemic to the site. Accompanied by Country Mushrooms sound composition by Melissa Hunt.

Research for this project has been supported through Australia Council for the Arts through a Creative Australia Fellowship 2012, and residencies at fo.am, Belgium and Bundanon Trust NSW. Special thanks to the generosity of The Wellcome Trust Library for access to rare materials, the artists involved in Transcontinental Garden Exchange for feedback and prototype testing and to Cate Hull for original production and sound mixing support.