Hortus (2012)

In “Hortus” the visitor is invited to explore a garden where a sensor network measures the dynamics of wind and light harvested by the plants during their photosynthetic process, and translates it into bird sounds.

When there is human movement in the garden a financial algorithm (similar to the ones used in a speculation economic market) interprets the variation of the received data and transforms and remaps the natural garden soundscape to which plants seem most profitable in that split second.

But when the visitors decide to stop, to read or to reflect, the original sound design for the garden returns, reflecting only the readings of natural energy.
Simultaneously, a network of micro stories circulates in a loop in electronic paper botanic displays, comparing definitions of common terms in the economic, political, or natural worlds such as growth, beauty, regeneration or time.

2084 / lecture performance
In 2084, an “orchestra” of 20 plants reacts to the dynamic of light and wind that other plants receive in the garden, and accompanies the reading of two New Year Speeches, two separate reflections about two possible futures for a civilization at the end of its days. Two guests are invited per session from different areas (such as science, politics or philosophy) to read and end the evening with a debate.

Artistic team

Concept and sound: Christoph De Boeck
Concept and text: Patrícia Portela
Electronics: Culture Crew
Algorithm: Luis M. Russo
Construction and design of display stands: Brian Rommens and João Gonçalves
Text editing: Isabel Garcez
Production Prado and deepblue: Ilse Joliet, Pedro Pires, Helena Serra

Co-producers and partnerships: Maria Matos Teatro Municipal (Lisboa) | Kaaitheater (Brussel) | Festival Van Vlaanderen (Kortrijk) | Festival Escrita na Paisagem (Évora) | CML — Gabinete do Vereador Ricardo Sá Fernandes/Departamento de Manutenção de Espaços Verdes | Direcção Municipal de Ambiente e Higiene Urbana da CML | ZDB (Lisboa) | Verbeke Foundation (Kemzeke) | House on Fire / ICA (London)

premiere (Hortus garden&performance lectures)
• 6/6 a 9/6 Burning Ice Festival, Kaaitheater, Bruxelas, Erasmus Garden & House; it toured in Europe and in the United States.


“Hortus” is simultaneously a place of fiction (…) and a place of amplification of senses and activation of natural awareness of the surrounding environment. ”
Claudia Galhós in Expresso, 23 06 12

“Hortus is an experience of sensitive sharing, where the interaction between the visitor and nature is grounded in a set of non-premeditation. (..) Hortus is both an installation and a statement on the idea of ??community. ”
Tiago Bartolomeu Costa in Ypsilon, Publico, 22 06 12

“Christoph de Boeck passé du monde à l’investigation vegetable. Puisque les plantes des Signaux echange, est-il of Possible reconstituer pour elles une infrastructure artificielle of communication, the internet Limage d’? At suivre. ‘
Victoire, De morgen, February 26, 2011

“In this philosophical garden “(…) we thought walking, (…) and question our relationship with nature, the paths through which leads the economy, and the world around us.”
Gabriela Lourenco in Vision 21 06 12

“Good News! Hortus “A suggestion for an artificial ecology (not to be missed since part of this event is by Patrícia Portela) with a sound installation that responds to various stimuli. There are stories to accompany the sound and a literary salon with several guests, from different areas, which will discuss the future of society. Probably with better results than any UN summit. ”
Afonso Cruz in Visão, Radar Flashback, 28 06 2012