Mais Matze: Speaking From the Grid Together 2020

Mais Matze creates a labyrinth of communication for humans and corn to interact with one another, using speech, sight, environmental sensing, sound and visual methods. This multimedia installation exists on site, online and as a radio broadcast, allowing greater empathy for humans, and agency for corn, through creating an evolving interactive conversation.

Made in response to the Stadtwerkstatt 48×6 Festival theme of MORE OR LESS and also in response to the isolation so many of us endured during the first year of the global Covid19 pandemic. This work saw a first time collaboration with Dutch based, Argentinian sound artist Eerie Ear or Sebastian Pappalardo. As the whole venue was to be enveloped in a crop of corn, I began to wonder, after living in a kind of mental isolation on a farm for most of the spring and summer, wouldn’t it be great if we could speak to our crops of vegetables? But what would they speak to us about and would they display emotions? Or just respond to their environment? The question then arose in regards to building a data to text to speech interface: how much human interference in fact takes place when it comes to environmental and particularly agricultural data, considering most e-agriculture technologies are built by the very large corporations that have the worst practices and often endeavour to push out individuals and small scale farms from existence?

Within a sea of big data, this project offers a voice beacon for plants with the aim of developing a linear relationship between crops and people. Using live streaming, radio broadcasting and onsite remediation of environmental sensor data, an audiovisual voice is developed for a crop of corn, located on site at STWST, that allows visitors to communicate with the crop by either speaking directly to it on site, listening to or broadcasting it on the radio, or watching and sharing it online. This combination of environmental sensing and human interaction will generate a range of emotional responses from the corn, in the form of audiovisual feelings and spoken responses. This communication strategy creates a single voice within a cloud-based data ecosystem, in order to enhance both the agency of the corn and the empathy of the human, enabling a better understanding of one another through direct participation in the augmentation of ecological aesthetics.