Root Note

Root Note
A collaboration between Nick Bratton and Rebecca Lieberman
Materials: Plants, soil, photoresistors, soil moisture sensors, capacitive sensors, Arduino microcontroller, wood
Languages: Arduino, Max / MSP
2014 - Ongoing

Root Note is a botanical audio interface that brings to life the dynamic relationship between plants and their surroundings.

A small garden of living plants reacts to the touch and proximity of a spectator to create an immersive and generative soundscape. Three different kinds of sensors embedded in the soil register changes in the plants’ environment such as the presence of human touch, fluctuations in light, and soil moisture level. Using an Arduino microcontroller, this data from the plants is routed into the audio synthesis environment Max / MSP where it is used to control aspects of the sound. Through their observation and interaction, the audience takes part in sculpting a real-time aural representation of the plants’ environment.

Root Note is currently on view at Red Bull Studios New York as part of Powrplnt ( In addition to its curatorial mission, Powrplnt a NYC-based arts ‘collaboratory’ that brings digital tools and creative technologies to high school students from City As School. Root Note will be teaching a two-part class on plant sensing and sonification. My course on plant sensing will cover topics such as introduction to electronics and sensors, programming microcontrollers using Arduino and introduction to interactive experience design. The culmination of the course will be a giant interactive sonic garden that we’ll create with the students at Red Bull Studios New York.

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