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Ludwig Berger - photosynthetic beats - utricularia vulgaris, mara [Forms of Minutiae - 2023]

Society tends to separate art and science into two different camps, which is unfortunate because the two are inextricably linked. The works of Leonardo DaVinci are paramount in displaying this bond, and while larger works take most of the spotlight, many scientists/artists bring forth smaller projects showcasing the hidden, natural world as art. Ludwig Berger is one such artist, whose work with plants, animals, and geological entities help to bring this linked activity to eager listeners. His latest, photosynthetic beats - utricularia vulgaris, marais des pontins, sees Berger recording the sound of the bladderwort (a carnivorous aquatic plant) in two different ponds - both unaltered and some with their light source being affected, each with its own side. How does this melding of science and art hold up?

On the surface, this under the surface recording (see that? heh) is closer to a scientific recording than an art piece, and after listening to the 20+ minutes, one would most certainly agree. Tracks I-VI (side A), are the actual recordings of these bladderworts releasing oxygen into the pond during photosynthesis. The result is clicking beats in shifting, unpredictable rhythmic patterns. Simple, very minimal, but intriguing, these pulses are a way for humans to interact with these plants on a normally unachievable level. Berger's recordings bring this "breathing" to light and allow the listener to have a much more intimate view of how these aquatic plants work. Following this, for tracks VII-XII, Berger began to change the amount of light the plant was receiving and effectively changed the frequency of the pulses, "playing the bladderwort," so to speak. This leads to a little bit more of an alien sounding tone, but in the end, it's not too far removed from the first six pieces. The idea of photosynthetic beats - utricularia vulgaris, marais des pontins is extremely interesting and works well as a botanical document, but as far as listenability, it is pretty lacking.
 
The cross section of science and art is intriguing and ever expanding, and Ludwig Berger's photosynthetic beats - utricularia vulgaris, marais des pontins is a really interesting entry into this genre. However, while it is interesting as a scientific document, it doesn't really hold its own as a listenable work. That's not to say it lacks merit, quite the opposite, just that after one spin through the 20+ minute run time, one will most likely not be going back for more. To find out more

Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5Rating: 2 out of 5

Paul Casey
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