The Temple of Flora, an Observer’s Guide to the Garden
by Boris Dumesnil Poulin
An botanical walk for the Jardin Botanique de Montréal
Duration : 30 minutes. 2016
“In the early hours of the morning the river’s face was covered with a dense white mist
...the sky began to get a first flush of rose and gold, the mists lifted like a gossamer curtain,
and the chill humidity gave way to the burning heat of day.”
Margaret Mee, Flowers of the Amazon
What I earn from meeting a fox in the woods he will gain a thousand times when chancing upon a bear (and so will the bear), when I catch a whiff from a field full of flowers I think it smells good, and that’s it. As a human, my perception of what is around me is trivial to what is really happening. I try to understand what escapes my senses and approach the arcane land with a lens made of wisdom. I would like to see as if I were a mushroom or a cat or a cactus. Maybe my artmaking is an attempt to do so.
I visit the Botanical Garden repeatedly: this temple of flora is one of silent, slow growth. There, I walk slowly, looking at every particular bloom for several minutes. I experience with the plants something strong that transports me inside and outside, in a way that is otherwordly and barely distinguishable. Something of a spell, really. In this audio walk, visitors will hear of my endeavours to become plant through the sheer learning of their biological processes and the observation of their pulchritude. A strange mix of science and magic indeed. In her ears, I speak of plants in a poetic and scientific way that soothes and transforms. I believe the appendage of earphones, and the overlaying of narration and music to what is beheld with the eyes - listening and observing - will create a melding confusion of the senses, apt to convey this impression of becoming other. Given a soundscape to follow, the visitor will free her eyes upon the greenery and let herself wonder among the other kingdom. This notion of soundwalk, a piece to be experienced on-location and for a period of time, isolated and absorbed in a complex sense apparatus - a melding of the sonic, spatial and visual experiences - is brightly compelling for me. My aim here is double : to curate a space and give narration a place. That is, to organize the way we observe, while at the same time playing with how we listen, and how both senses are superposed. I’m attentive to the voicing of writing, in adding to existing space, and in highlighting what is present. I want to pierce the veil of hidden worlds, to thread the fine line between art and science. A hallucination “to go beyond our experience in time and attain the level of daydreams, where time ceases to quicken memory and space is everything” (Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space). I believe words are beautiful : they are simple little puffs of air shaped to look like something else; when they loom over another this often calls for grandeur and vertigo.
To Experience Temple of Flora yourselves:
You will need to have it with you beforehand on your cellphone, iPod or mp3 player. Also bring a pair of headphones. The files for the walk are available here :
Download them and put them on your audio device.
If the device is one made by Apple, you can do this via iTunes. Simply download the files and import them in iTunes, using the dropdown menu File, then clicking on Add to Library. You can then select them in iTunes and slide them in your plugged-in iPod, iPhone or iPad, by click-and-dragging them to the left of the iTunes window. If you have a device that is not iTunes-compatible, please refer to your device’s manual. This usually involves plugging your device into your computer, which makes the device appear as a disk on screen, and from there you can drag the files into the disk for your own enjoyment. If you have any problems loading the files on your device, please write to me and I will assist you in the best way I can. If you have succeeded in putting the files on your audio device, make sure they work and then head to the Botanical Garden! If you're in a remote area, out of the contry or on the moon for what I know, please DO listen to the piece still, as I have discovered that it works quite well in other contexts as well!
Temple of Flora is meant to be experienced on-site, at Montreal's Botanical Garden. Here is how to get there:
The botanical garden is on the corner of Pie-IX and Sherbrooke E, just north of the Pie-IX metro station.If you’re going by metro, the Pie-IX station is on the Green line. If going on foot, by bicycle or by car, be careful, the easiest way in is through the side entrance, on Sherbrooke east of Pie-IX. The entrance hall is located across the parking lot, near the greenhouse complex. I will stay there and wait if someone is missing. Here is a map to guide you :
See you there!