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The project deals with a specific phenomenon linked to climate change, namely the growing number of invasive alien species (IAS).
IAS have the ability to rapidly expand to higher latitudes and to different altitudes as the climate warms and this process changes the biodiversity of affected areas, threatening local species.

These plants speak for themselves through an interactive sound-based artistic installation.

The first step is to collect the plants, this means walking the territory, sighting the different species and putting them in vases. At this stage we need a botanist or other scientist who can recognize the species. In my case, I asked Dr. Michela Sesso to join the project.
We have been in two different Nature Reserves near the city of Trieste, Italy.

The second part consists in soldering several specific circuits led by Arduino chips and connect them to the plants. In this way a very small electric current passes through the plant. The amount of water, wind and human touch can affect that electric current, producing data that can be associated with different musical notes played by electronic instruments or computer softwares.

Each alien species has been assigned to a particular musical instrument typical of the plant's country of origin. So, for example, Reynoiutra Japonica was playing Koto, while to Robinia Pseudoacacia, a native of the Appalachian Mountains, was assigned Native American songs.

Third step: all the collected species are exhibited in an interactive installation. The public is invited to play the plants by touching them, producing a beautiful sound environment and creating the perfect opportunity for an informal debate on climate change.

The goal of "Phonosynthesis: music from alien species" is to communicate a specific aspect of climate change.
The interactive art installation becomes a way to grab the attention of different people of all ages.

The project can also be set up as a workshop program to be proposed within schools or other communities, acting locally but talking about a global problem.


Scienza e Virgola Festival 2021 - Trieste
Selected for CMCC Climate Change Communication Award "Rebecca Ballestra" 2021
Trieste Film Festival 2022
Far East Film Festival - Udine 2022


a project by Francesco Scarel

music Andrea Gulli

botanist Michela Sex

coding advice Alessandro Fontana

handmade book Annamaria Sgubin

developed for

SISSA - International Higher School of Advanced Studies

in collaboration with

MCS Master in Science Communication