Social media

Botanicalls project at Data Gaga exhibition helps plants to speak

Plants can now speak via Twitter and say when they want water, thanks to Botanicalls project

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 October, 2012, 3:45am

Gardening enthusiasts have long been proclaiming the benefits of talking to their plants - but now the plants are actually talking back.

Our potted friends are making their thoughts known via Twitter, with their own account called Plant Talks.

"May I have a cup of water, please?" one thirsty plant tweeted yesterday.

Another appealed desperately to its owner: "Is water that expensive nowadays? Give me some more please!"

The bizarre experiment is called Botanicalls and is one of several off-the-wall concepts being aired at the Cultural Centre this week.

It is part of the Data Gaga exhibition, which explores how humans can interact creatively with information. Curator Ellen Pau Oi-lun, chairwoman of Videotage, a collective based at the Cattle Depot artists' village in To Kwa Wan, said she first heard of tweeting blooms from a team of New York University students who had found a way of drawing messages from plants.

Pau worked with artist Miu-ling Lam, 33, assistant professor at City University's school of creative media, last month to hook up 14 plants to a device that allowed them to tweet.

They inserted two conductive rods into the soil and drew data from the plants into a computer chip. The device distils the information about the moisture content of the soil into pre-programmed sentences and sends a message to a Twitter account.

Lam, who holds a PhD in robotics, said she hoped to add other elements, such as a photo sensor or thermometer, which would "enrich the vocabulary" of the plants.

The show runs until October 29 and is sponsored by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.