PiP's Plant Parlour to swing by Lower Marsh Market

Critically acclaimed British artist Mileece brings her new mobile installation, which celebrates the history and character of the area to the south of Blackfriars bridge, to our Saturday market

PiP’s Plant Parlour is an interactive, travelling plant-lounge designed for the urban environment, where visitors can restore their sense of wellbeing by interacting and relaxing in an immersive bio-responsive sound and lightscape, surrounded by delicate flowers and lush plants. The installation is supported by Southwark Council and Missen Acoustic and produced by not-for-profit arts organisation Illuminate Productions.

Housed within a converted vintage caravan, the Parlour will be open for drop-ins, or available for visitors to book exclusive 15-minute sessions. There they will be invited to interact with the plants to create unique natural and electronic soundscapes and to relax in the multi-sensory cocoon. Plants fitted with small electrodes are connected to Mileece’s electro-botani-graph (EBG), which amplifies the bio-electrical micro-voltages in much the same way that an EEG amplifies brain waves. This device, affectionately known as PiP (Peoples’ interface for Plants), sends the information as binary data to animate audio and light generators, creating a unique musical and luminal soundscape that changes with every interaction.

As part of Blackfriars Stories, Pip’s Plant Parlour relates to a number of Southwark histories, including the plantations and fetes of Surrey Zoological Gardens and the green spaces designed by Fanny Wilkinson. The area was also home to William Blake, who famously lamented the rise of industrialisation and its implications on the natural world and believed that only through nature can man become aware of his place in the universe.

Caroline Jones, creative director of Illuminate Productions, said: “Our long-term aim is to help build a good quality of life for local communities, supporting positive mental health through creative practice and participation. Through the magic of interactive projects, we aim to provide culturally engaging activities that educate, challenge perceptions and leave a positive imprint on the community”.

Mileece added, “At some point, the world forgot how to care for plants, and indeed that we need them to survive! Beyond this reliance – and perhaps because of it – I became fascinated by our living relationship with plant life.   In 2005 I developed and launched PiP – I unwittingly named with a nifty little word that, in addition to its plant connotation, means “an excellent thing”. It’s a custom hardware and software system designed to help elucidate and inspire this sometimes hidden, but always incredible relationship by using bio-data to drive real-time sound synthesis modules. As it’s a bit of a complex process, I present PiP within biophilic public art projects I design, which aim to promote ecology through technology and art. Of course, it all uses electricity, which is invariably dirty and contrary to that goal, so I aim to integrate these environments with clean energy created by ‘MoonCells’. That way we can collectively experience how it’s possible to author technology and environments that positively support our nature, our sense of connection to each other in our ‘Biophilosphere’, and enhance our collective planetary wellbeing”

The caravan will be in situ on the market Saturday 26 October, be sure to stop by and immerse yourself in Mother nature!