Mar 6, 2013 / 12:33 pm
There is a new idea blooming on UBC Okanagan's campus.
Writers from the Department of Creative Studies are blending plant metaphors with plant science to discover their emerging literary voice.
The concept uses live plants, text , art objects, experiments that explore art and science, and integrating references of n’syilxcen, the Okanagan native language, and non-humanities research in a live presentation called the Plant Intelligence Project.
Sonnet L'Abbé, Creative writing lecturer, says the project is inspired by the growing reputation of UBC and the Okanagan's status as among the best places in Canada for eco art, combined with scientific evidence that plants behave in oddly intelligent ways.
"Having been exposed to evidence for arguing plant intelligence, the project assignment is to create a work of environmental art that engages that question," says L'Abbé.
As a doctoral student, whose thesis explores plants and literature L'Abbé is certain those involved will take this project in several different directions.
“It’s important for creative writing students to understand that an artistic way of questioning the world has the same value that science has in questioning the world.”
According to L’Abbé art and science can inform each other and it’s not a question that one is better than the other.
“But if there is that mutual respect where art can say, ‘we look to science,’ for new ways of doing things and science can look to art for different ways of understanding what it does, then we are bridging the knowledge gap between the disciplines.”
L'Abbé's students attended a guest lecture with Prof. Susan Murch to better understand plant science and apply it to literary endeavour.
Murch, Canada Research Chair in Natural Products Chemistry, is fascinated by the research and teaching approach of the Plant Intelligence Project.
"As scientists, we frequently think that we know what we are talking about and that there is one ‘right’ answer to be found,” she says.
Student group presentations of The Plant Intelligence Project take place in the foyer of the Charles E. Fipke Centre for Innovative Research, Thursday March 7, from 11 a.m. to noon. The event is part of UBC’s Celebrate Research Week activities. Admission is free and open to everyone.
Watch UBCO TV’s video of the Plant Intelligence Project:
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