Stress Call of the Stinging Nettle, 2010 / Watercolour and pencil on paper, 85 x 197 cm.

Stress Call of the Stinging Nettle is sprung from an idea of finding a way to bridge the language barrier between plants and humans. With the Ecological Chemistry Research Group at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, I have been able to follow the work of deciphering the highly sophisticated chemical language of plants. In experiments with stinging nettles under attack by the comma butterfly larvae feeding on the leaves, the plants are signaling stress by releasing chemical compounds. I have then analyzed the chemical data and transposed it into sound and notation for the musical score that describes the time span and the amplitude of the chemical reactions. The surrounding plants are responding to the stress call by redirecting all their energy to the root system until the alarm is over.
Photo: Jean-Baptiste Beranger.