“The Ark” transforms a Mexican cactus garden into Avatar’s ‘Pandora’
Last April, a projection mapping artist decided to give cactus a voice. As part of Proyecta Oaxaca 2013 — a digital art and design festival held at the Ethnobotanical Garden in Oaxaca, Mexico — artist Romain Tardy used carefully projected, animated patterns of light to bring the garden’s famous organ pipe cactus to life. “Adopting a poetic approach, The Ark gives voice to the garden’s plants, participants in the work, the beating heart of the space and an unpredictable choir,” writes Tardy.
The project is one of many from the group AntiVJ, a “visual label” of European artists who work primarily in the medium of projected light. Like his previous work, O (OMICRON), the light show re-imagines what was arguably already an intriguing physical and cultural space as something new: in this case, a sentient garden that evokes the one in Avatar, the James Cameron film.
Whether or not that was the intention, it’s worth watching the result. Just know that you’re not getting nearly the full idea in the video and photos below. Last April, visitors could walk through three different parts of the art installation, immersed in the experience from head to toe: “It unfolds like a movie set in space, in which the wandering spectator plays the role of the camera.”