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Giving Voice

by 

Yuval Margalit

Design and Technology track

Mentor — 

Sarit Youdelevich

Is it possible to create a shared language between plants and humans that will increase empathy?

Can we make humans listen to flowers? Will adding a layer of sound to communication with plants increase people’s empathy for them?

Many studies suggest that plants have a variety of positive impacts on humans and their environment: they reduce the temperature, clean the air, prevent floods, and stabilize the ground against earthquakes. They beautify and enliven our surroundings, and improve our mood. 

We know that people often tend to plants – they fertilize, water, trim and talk to them. At the same time, we inscribe our names on tree trunks, hang hammocks on them, or even cut them down as we see fit. How can we understand the plant’s needs? A stalk drooping out of thirst, a wounded trunk that secretes resin – these are only few of the words in the plant vocabulary used to communicate with humans. We can touch the plant or the soil around it, grope them and look carefully to see whether it needs water, shade or sunlight. But what about emotions we cannot perceive, such as fear, anger, or joy?

In this project, I examine what happens if I add a layer of sound to the human-plant communication. The idea is to give the plant a voice, assuming that when people listen to it long enough they will manage to understand it, to sense the changes it is going through, and ultimately become more sensitive to it. 

The project’s basic assumption is that listening to the sound and understanding its regularity will, over time, increase empathy and reduce the harm to plants. 

In this project, you are invited to take a peek, to look at a certain moment in the plant’s life, and listen to it. The sound changes every day according to the plant’s condition. If we only listen attentively, regularly, and keep visiting it, we will be able to understand some of its experiences, to the point that we may even learn to care.

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