Imperceptibly and Slowly Opening
Imperceptibly and Slowly Opening
Vegetal life forms are banal in their ubiquity. Undeniably alive, yet silent, they creep upwards, their roots submerged and out of human sight. Like anarchists protesting order, weeds break through concrete. Plants challenge theoretical logic as well; they can be both one and many: Aspen trees growing on a hillside share a single root system. Plants have occupations and desires: engaged in constant growth, they spread out with a will to consume and occupy space. Studies confirm that plants communicate and activate built-in chemical defense mechanisms to ward off predators. Some even move visibly: Mimosa plants close in on themselves when touched by a human finger. This would suggest some kind of sentience, but what would the character of that sentience be? How do we quantify it? Imperceptibly and Slowly Opening highlights the inaccessible subjectivity that plants possess. Featured artists and writers reflect upon plant life as it troubles both physical and ideological human spaces.
Featuring artists Sebastian Alvarez, Katherine Behar, Srijon Chowdhury, Katy Cowan, Zoe Crosher, Lindsey French, Essi Kausalainen, Joshua Kent, Deanna Ledezma, A. Laurie Palmer, Wilfredo Prieto, Steve Ruiz, John Steck Jr., Linda Tegg, & Andrew Yang.
“The absolute pillar of modern philosophy is the notion that human thought is something ontologically different in kind from everything else. The gap between chunks of iron on one side and chimps and dolphins on the other is supposedly nothing compared to the perilous leap from ‘sentient’ chimps and dolphins to ‘sapient’ humans. The present anthology reminds us of just how much may be going on with intelligence outside of humans. This makes it another important contribution to the non-modern philosophy of the future.” — Graham Harman
“Imperceptibly and Slowly Opening cues us, from its title onward, to the necessary shift of temporality and expectation that we must make to savour this vibrant, provocative and engagingly hybrid ensemble of essays, poems, artworks, performances, conversations and floating images. At the heart of this catalogue, as of the exhibition it serves as an afterlife, is a theme that has exercised a perennial fascination over thinkers and researchers: the mysterious subjectivity of plants.
In its rhizomatic structure and germinative tenor, this volume closely reflects the growth patterns that characterize plants. It invites us to renounce, however temporarily, the accelerated pace, fragmented attention and intermittent foci of engagement that define contemporary life. The contributors – who include artists, poets, philosophers, theorists, art historians, classicists and translators – draw us into a zone of renewed attentiveness as they address questions that have preoccupied us since classical antiquity. How might we dismantle the boundary between culture and nature, artificially drawn and enforced in the epoch of industrial expansion, when nature was reduced from an animate context of living to an inanimate domain of exploitation? How might we overcome the legacy of the Romantic moment, when nature’s otherness was variously framed through the optics of the pastoral, the picturesque, and the wilderness? Might we ever engage in dialogue with the many species that share their planet with us?
The contributors to Imperceptibly and Slowly Opening approach these questions in memorable ways, drawing on a spectrum of reference points including Platonic, Aristotelian and Neoplatonist thought, as well as the world-views of Homer, Pindar and Virgil. This volume reminds us that the vegetal kingdom, far from remaining rooted in the associations of stasis and locality that we ascribe to it, exhibits many of the features of life we normally associate with the animal kingdom: the rhythms of adaptation, mutation, migration and resistance to challenges, as well as a range of predatory and defensive behaviors.
Once we have recognized that plants demonstrate intelligence through a range of perceptive, cognitive, affective and volitional capacities, we must begin to cede our cherished notion of the unique and sovereign human subject. This is not an anthropomorphic projection but an empathetic acknowledgement, based on empirical experience, of our vegetal Others as fellow sentient beings. It ought, potentially, to prompt a new neighborliness and solidarity with plant life, with correspondingly profound implications for the manner in which we interpret our tenancy of the earth. Imperceptibly and Slowly Opening revolutionizes our normalized, indeed ‘naturalized’ concept of the environment as a choreography of pitched skirmishes and uneasy periods of truce, presided over by the human animal as predator-in-chief. If physics premises its narrative on entropy, portraying the universe as declining inexorably towards heat death, botany may well embrace the opposite principle of vitality, an exuberant, resilient force that expresses itself through diversity. Imperceptibly and Slowly Opening gestures toward possibilities of thought and action that might help us redeem ourselves, as members of a species whose rapacity has driven its home planet to the edge of catastrophe.” – Ranjit Hoskote
“As with most Green Lantern Press publications, Imperceptibly and Slowly Opening unfolds in intricate evolutions, which in the context of biology and human thought (two ever-adaptable branching systems) is no less discerning on the delicate nature between the nearly imperceptible progressions that constitute viewing, seeing, and experiencing the anthropocene.” —Stephanie Cristello
“Reading this collection of works about plants is akin to venturing out on a hike through unfamiliar woods. The environment feels familiar and inviting and yet, things are different, unexpected, and sometimes thrilling. The works appear with their own organic logic and cadence. Most importantly, what you receive from them depends to a great deal on what you brought with you to the woods and on how closely and patiently you are willing to look, how open you are to escaping your own expectations or preoccupations. And you’ll certainly find spots that you’d hope to return to again some day to seek that fleeting inspiration it offered the first time around.” — Chuck Cannon
- TITLE: Imperceptibly and Slowly Opening
- AUTHOR/S: Giovanni Aloi, Kristina Chew, Every house has a door, Brooke Holmes, Joela Jacobs, Devin King, Eben Kirksey, Deanna Ledezma, Renan Laru-an, Michael Marder, Chantal Neveu, Nathanaël, Mark Payne, Caroline Picard, Catriona Sandilands, Steven Shaviro, Eleni Sikelianos, Monica Westin, & Leila Wilson
- EDITOR/S: Caroline Picard
- GENRE: Art & Theory
- PUBLISHER: The Green Lantern Press
- PAGES: 292
- YEAR: Nov 2016
- EDITION SIZE: 750
- ISBN: 978-0-9974165-0-3