How Carsten Höller Explores the Impact of the Human Touch
The German artist is using plants, people, and steel slides in a new experiment
Do plants have emotions? German artist Carsten Höller and Italian plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso intend to find out. The duo are exploring the question in The Florence Experiment, an exhibition staged in the Italian city’s famed 15th-century Palazzo Strozzi. In the most dramatic part of the installation, visitors are given bean plants and asked to scoot down a pair of Höller’s monumental, intertwined steel slides. Scientists then compare the specimens’ responses—in photosynthetic parameters and volatile molecules— to the feelings of their human carriers. The experiment continues in the basement, where visitors’ reactions to comedy and horror clips are collected and passed on to the vines of wisteria plants outside. Local art-and-science hero Leonardo da Vinci would be proud.
The Florence Experiment, Palazzo Strozzi, 50123 Firenze, through August 26.
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2018 Summer Issue in the section called The Artful Life. Subscribe to the magazine.