A Symbiotic Symphonic Movement
A series of research led discussions and collaborative experimental performances focusing on the intersection of plant and human migration. Initiated and curated by Laura Skehan.  First of the series at National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, Ireland featuring Clíona Ní Laoi, Masaya Ozaki and Banu Cicek Tulu.

‘A Symbiotic Symphonic Movement began, ironically, during a time when there was restricted movement. A time of loss and loneliness. Countries were in lockdown, borders were shut and we were left to experience a huge amount of grief in isolation. Collectively we turned to the technological world and the organic world. We tended to our gardens and flowerbeds, we walked in parks, we listened to the birds. We worked remotely, socialised over Zoom and ordered our grocery shopping online. I observed the solace we gained from the organic, those videos of balcony concerts and collective musical improvisations on social media. It was both a show of collective grief and the power of comradery.

Fast forward to 2023, we are seeing the largest movement of humans since the mid-20th century. Migration is common as are refugees looking for safety due to climate change and war. Most people are searching for a chance of a better quality of life. The organic world is also affected. Most notably, plants are moving north as the world heats up, migrating to safer climates. Alpine plants in Ireland are endangered for this reason among others.

Following lockdown, I began exploring the different plants that are native to Ireland and their occurrence in other places. I began studying plant migration. As an island, physically how did these plants arrive here, or how they move to their new place?  Where was their 'origin'? What was their story? How have we bonded with them? What space do they hold in our folklore and mythologies?

I began the fieldwork for this project through reading D.A Webb’s 1984 paper ‘The Flora of Ireland in its European Context.’ I worked with researchers at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin, in Reykjavik and Berlin to collect the biodata of the plants mentioned in this text, through a small electrode and audio production technology. From the data, I created small one-minute sound works to represent each of these plants. 

While I was on research residency in Berlin and Reykjavik, I was lucky enough to meet the three composers Clíona Ní Laoi, Masaya Ozaki and Banu  Çiçek Tülü who have been generous in sharing their time and their experiences in their new cities. I sent them each five sound pieces from the plant data that I collected in their city of residence. I invited each composer to respond with their own sonic responses, considering their experience of migration, adapting and place-making. They and the plants have contributed so wonderfully to this project, and I’m so proud of what we have all created together, as individuals and as a collaborative project.

A Symbiotic Symphonic Movement unites these collective experiences between the organic and the human using sound and music technology. It’s a story of connection, of loss and of place-making. It’s a project that asks plants and people how we feel in a world where our origin is merely a memory, intangible and ever-changing.’

Pre-show note by Laura Skehan.