Diversity and Controversy

One of The most interesting aspects of Mutamorphosis is both its disciplinary and thematic diversity. gathered under the same thematic umbrella, artists, scientists and theorists engage in inspiring conversations ranging from the internet of things to the networks of power (Phillips), deal with the full spectrum of living and semi-living (Duff, Dumitriu, Zaretsky, Catts and Zurr, Boland etc..), examine pain (Gromala and Fox), Death (High), plants and animals (Cinti and Bakke) and urban spaces (Meny and Cetkovic) etc…

A tight conference schedule based on multiple and concurrent panels made keeping track of all the thematic threats impossible. I only attended  part of the Vegetal Sensoria chaired by Monika Bakke and was fascinated by the Laura Cinti’s paper on the “sensorial Invisibility of Plants. Her Cactus Project speaks to the pervasiveness of anthropocentrism in dealing with almost anything that surrounds us.

I was  blown away by Kathy High’s candid (and for many morally problematic) reflection on Human death. High’s Men Becoming Plants explores the possibilities for human beings to become nourishment for plants after their passing. This is an argument that individuals rarely confront, as any mention of death is usually considered a taboo. people are afraid of dying. But the death has become a very unsustainable business, with incinerators producing a massive amount of pollutants (the burning of dentures, filling, prostheses, etc…) and crowded cemeteries filled with cement. someone in the crowd looked appalled by High’s remarks and someone asked if this project (she has already purchased a burial plot where her lifeless body will become food for plants) hadn’t saddened or depressed her. However, if we reflect further, death is one of those aspects that makes us all identical: soon or later we will have ti go through this.