A “Plant-Based” Silent Disco Helps You Learn The Secret Language of Plants

published Aug 23, 2022
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Credit: Viv Yapp

Though we may not be able to hear or see it, plants use a secret language to transmit information to each other over great distances and an exhibit in Milan, Italy aims to bring visualization to that unheard language. Greenhouse Silent Disco reveals the mysterious form of communication between plants using LED lights and sounds.

Unlike standard silent discos that bring quiet to the dance floor, this silent disco allows the unheard to finally sing.

As part of the 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition, Greenhouse Silent Disco was set up by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the Museum of Architecture in Wrocław as a way for humans to better understand the needs of plants as our relationship with them becomes more strained due to climate crises. 

Digital sensors installed around the greenhouse capture data about how plants respond to stimuli like the sound of human movements and weather patterns. These datasets are then translated into LED light flashes and sounds so that viewers of the exhibition can see and hear the plants’ reactions.

The exhibit, curated by Małgorzata Devosges-Cuber and Michał Duda and designed by Barbara Nawrocka and Dominika Wilczyńska, is based on the research of plant physiologist Professor Hazem Kalaji of the Agriculture and Biology Department at Warsaw University of Life Sciences. Prof. Kalaji used similar light and sound tactics to monitor the condition of plants and their ecosystems.

The Greenhouse Silent Disco is also outfitted with reflective walls that make the wooden structural plant stands of the exhibit look like it goes on infinitely.

Greenhouse Silent Disco will be on display through December 11, 2022 at the Triennale Milano.