Photographic Plants

Video by Angelina Lee © 2022

This project correlates the photosensitivity of plants with that of photography. In both processes, a photosensitive substance reacts in a transformational way to sunlight. Digital means have since replaced light-sensitive films strips inside manual cameras, but sensors in electronic cameras still capture and display light patterns. Similarly, the sun’s photons are captured alongside water and carbon dioxide into life-sustaining glucose and oxygen byproducts during photosynthesis in plant chloroplasts. 

In this animated installation at Occidental College’s Food, Energy and Sustainability Team (FEAST) Garden, visions of spiky California cacti and other flora are literally and figuratively made of light. Animator Angelina Lee creates negatives of various plants and animates them into a mirage pulsing with sentience. The first plants to appear on the window panes beckon others to follow as steadily larger plants swell beside them. Projected onto a nursery greenhouse, this animation pays homage to the role of nurseries in fostering infant life and to this college’s organic garden as a precious origin site for ever more plant growth.