Neo Nature

"Neo Nature" (1993), by Horst Rickels (NL/DE) and Victor Wentinck (NL), is a sound garden, populated with electronic plants and animals.

Neo Nature

Neo Nature (installation detail); photo: Jan Sprij

May 1993
May 1993
location: V2_, Muntelstraat 23, Den Bosch

A music/theater project by Horst Rickels (NL/DE) and Victor Wentinck (NL) for which a sound garden was designed, populated with electronic plants and animals: "neo nature". For this presentation a 400 square meter garden was installed. The sound garden consisted of an organ forest, an 'environment' consisting of electronic sounds, generated by a computer, and numerous other robotlike creatures, all generating sounds. 

For V2, in a special interpretation on May 14 and 15, the audience is seated in a room (a small constructed livingroom) that can drives through the "neo nature." During the trip, short performances and action take place in the "neo nature." While the audience slowly drives through the neo nature landscape in a car and sees the garden move past through a window in the car. The amplified sounds from the garden can be heard in the car. Driving through the garden the plants and animals can be seen to 'live' and produce sounds. The window of the car functions like a television screen and creates a distance with regard to the sound garden: the audience acts as observer.

After the trip in the car, the audience gets out and walks through the garden becoming part of it and its sounds which are now experienced acoustically. The audience changes from observer (in the car) to participant (in the garden). Walking through the garden, one can see the car with a new audience driving through it.

Neo Nature wants to provoke an interdisciplinary philosophical discussion. Classic esthetics seem to force upon the arts laws stemming from the ideas of Kant, Hegel and Heidegger, laws connected to a Newtonian and Cartesian view of the world. The current insights seem to refute these ideas.

From the beginning of the century, this has led to violent discussions in physics (quantum physics), based on the conception that the observer is part of the process he observes and that his position influences the observation and thus the results. In current discussions the point is forwarded that, would it be possible to create a truly objective position, we would observe a totally different reality. With this idea in mind, the Austrian physicist Otto Rössler has become interested in virtual reality systems with which such a position might be simulated.

A philosophical exposé followed in which the difference between observer and participant was elaborated upon. The discussion about classic esthetics in the arts was based upon these concepts.

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