Posted by Jim Findlay

Wow.  So cool.  This plant was grown from a seed that’s 32,00o years old.
















NY TIMES: “Dead for 32,000 Years, an Arctic Plant is Revived.”

NY Times review

“If you’ve ever wondered what a plant being Tasered sounds like, wonder no more. In “Botanica,” Jim Findlay’s overripe juxtaposition of scientific jargon and randy flora, the wildlife endures that and much, much more.”

So I promised more about Laure, and I’ll get there soon I hope.

But in the meantime, I couldn’t resist sharing the information that I just came across providentially this evening.

That, my friends, is the real deal.  A psilocybin truffle.  The result of spores mating in the soil.

Here’s what has to say about it.

“A truffle or a sclerotium (mv. sclerotia), is an underground hardening or thickening of the mycelium, which are formed during periods of bad climatic conditions, in order for the organism to be able to survive this period. Thus, it functions as a parking place for moisture and nutrients, in order to enable the plant to form mycelium back later for vegetative and regenerative growth.

And here’s the vice magazine story about the truffles.  Including a nice animation of how why the spores from these truffles and why they get you ass over tits high.

Vice magazine : “Hamilton and the Philsopher’s stone.” 


So for anyone who thinks that the spores story in Botanica is preposterous (that includes me by the way), then watch this and learn differently.

And here is what a whole bunch of them look like…  Me wanna…



Flavorpill says: “Sex, drugs, and… botany? Plants will never seem the same after Jim Findlay’s Botanica, an original, mesmerizing, and disturbing piece of experimental insanity… Bizarre? Definitely. Forgettable? Not a chance.”

I love that they use this picture too.   The freaks are gonna find us sooner or later!

2nd installment – how the hell did we get here…

So the surrealists and surrealist pornography.   And what the hell does any of that have to do with plants?

The totally subjectively remembered long story.  Some 11ish years or so ago, Amy Huggans from the Giraffe and my babies’ mama, started working on something she was calling the Girls Show to Rule the World.  Around this time I think she was pretty much fed up with the boys in RH and CG and wanted to do something that didn’t involve the boys getting drunk and listening to bad comedy records every rehearsal.  And she was specifically interested in the book, Irene’s Cunt, by Louis Aragon.

Here’s a picture of a young Aragon.  Probably around the time he first met Laure/Colette Peignot.  The bow-tie with leather jacket is pretty sweet.

Anyway, Amy started working on an Aragon idea, and we did a few rehearsals and then for whatever reason lost to time and the imperfect memory of quasi-alcoholics, the idea petered out.  We all moved onto something else like spending all our time watching Vienna Actionist videos in the case of CG or making kick-ass westerns in the case of RH.  (If you don’t know who CG or RH are, then this will all be a mystery which is as it should be anyway).   It was one false start among many.

But I always had in the back of my head the idea to pick up the project sort of where Amy had left it, or at least the Aragon part of it.  And when I had the dream that sort of started my mind working on Botanica, I was incidentally also re-reading Irene’s Cunt.  So the two ideas; a world of plants and the surrealists were just sort of floating on the same river in my mind from the beginning.

And then there’s the confluence of Laure in the middle of this whole thing.  If you’re reading Aragon then you sort of have to read Bataille too just to get your French surrealist kink rounded out with a little less self-loathing.  And when I started poking into Bataille’s “Blue of Noon” then I just sort of started stumbling over how Laure shows up in both Bataille’s and Aragon’s biographies (as well as Man Ray, Maurice Blanchot… you get the idea) and then eventually found my way to material suggesting that both of these books were inspired by this same woman, Laure.

















She died at 35 from basic wholesale recklessness.  When her mother tried to arrange for a priest at her funeral, Bataille refused to allow it by threatening to shoot him on the altar.

Next post, I think I’ll try to give you a better picture of who Laure was, what she thought and wrote, and how that relates to the story we’ve tried to make for Liz in Botanica.


Now that we’re open, I thought I’d put some of our research up for folks who’ve seen the show and are interested how we arrived at this point…

First up.  Jagadish Chandra Bose.  (1858-1937)











The Bengali scientist who Chet references in his opening narration.  Bose was a remarkable man I think.  He was in the mix with Tesla and Marconi in the creation of radio, he discovered microwaves, rejected the ethics of patent (after a well meaning colleague submitted a patent in America on his behalf but without his permission) and basically withdrew from radio and electronics research out of an indifference to the rapid commercialization of the field.  All to the benefit of plant research, because Bose retreated into his lab and spent the rest of his life working to understand the complexity of the plant world.  He was an iconoclast and a natural skeptic.  His work was so forward thinking that some of his counter-orthodox theories have been only been confirmed as recently as 1995.  And at the base of it all, for me at least, is his claim that plants can indeed feel pain and understand affection as proven by the electrical conductivity of their cell membranes.

Here’s a sketch of one of the machines he invented to measure plant movement.
















The institute he founded in Calcutta is still there and still functioning as a research facility.
The Bose Institute

And the coolest part of that is that they have preserved much of Bose’s equipment and you can see it all in person at the museum onsite.  I can only dream about visiting this place at the moment, but if  I ever make it to Calcutta, there’s no way I will miss the chance to see it all in person.

If you want to read some of Bose’s research, the lovely people/borg at Google have kindly made that possible and free with a single click here:   Researches on the Irritability of Plants.




Looky here.

BOTANICA set designer Peter Ksander and our arduino guru Ryan Holsopple both were nominated for Hewes Design Awards for their work on other shows in 2011.   A great big Botanica™ whiskey to both of them and to Peter’s wife, Miranda Hardy who also received a nomination.  If my math is correct that means there’s at least 3 Hewes Awards and 8 Hewes nominations working on BOTANICA right now.  I like math.

Here’s some more math: we finished the work in progress showings having worked our way up to being able to competently care for about 50 live plants.   I just left a meeting were we talked about adding approximately 210 more in the next two weeks not counting a few other surprises that may or may not make it into the space due to budget constraints (go to the Support page now!).

We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about the visual world so far but excuse me for saying that we’re really just moving past the sketch stage…

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Julie Ardery shows us some flower lover love over on the Human Flower Project blog.  It’s a pretty great place to poke around if you find anything plant related interesting like me.  In 10 minutes I read about a 17th century mystical hunger artists who lived only on the ‘scent of flowers’, how to brew hibiscus tea and the prevalence of flowers as a sign of ‘evil’ in the movies of John Sayles.  I’m hooked.

“If frowzy little houseplants cry
For French Surrealists,
Why, oh, why can’t I?…”

I’m not sure if she made this little ditty up on the spot, but if she did, I want to hire her to write the sequel.


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I’m on a panel tonight over at CUNY at the pleasure of Helen Shaw who has organized a day of events around Reza’s life, work and legacy.