PHYTOPIA sets up its work station to engage in concept of phytocracy, plant governance, prescribed by artist Špela Petrič in her work, Deep Phytocrazy:
Feral Songs (2018) and her subsequently published manifesto,
Feral Phytocracy: Vegetal Apparitions for the 21st Century. Špela maps the structure of phytopolitics using
recombinant, ethico-onto-epistemological, tools and offers “a critical pause to the seamlessly integrated assumptions about knowledge, relations and history we act within.”
Working towards further investigation of cross-species phytopolitics that include designing tools for field studies and devising participatory field work and performance in and out of the fields, PHYTOPIA work station plans two trajectories of walking, sensing the forest, respectively led by Ke-Ting Chen of 採集人共作室 (collectors) at Pinglin and Dondon Houmwm from Tomong tribe in Hualien.
Led by Keting Chen, “Soul returning, bring back the trees” takes a bizarre incident from the town of Pinglin, where a row of thirteen over thirty years old Alexandra palms was cut down due to lack of explicit information and communication. Fresh tree debris and pieces of logs were left on the scene. Keting questions, "If trees that died in bizarre accidents could come back to life, how would they narrate the endless words they want to express before they died?" “Soul returning, bring back the trees” invites creators who engage in issues of environmental ecology, interspecies communicators, and professionals from technology and chemistry fields to join Keting Chen’s team. Departing from the human-centric concept and return to spiritual communication, allowing direct body contact with plants, the team seeks alternative perspectives with perceptions and feelings towards phytocracy. Through experimental methods and tools, the team aim to bring back the soul of the trees and further interact, actively acknowledge and empower the plants’ self governance.
Dondon Houmwm’s “Forest wandering, Hagay dreaming” derives from Dondon’s retelling of a speculative legend in which a hunter lost in the forest dreams an encounter with a group of naked people who claim themselves as Hagay. Identifying themselves as both man and woman, Hagay transmit to the hunter their knowledge of rituals, hunting, and weaving. As an artist and a practicing wizard, Dondon Houmwm leads us to wander in the forest at the Tomong tribe. Calling for the land that connects earth and the spiritual worlds to guide the journey, the encounter with the mythical world of Hagay on the path to the ancient time is desired. By applying different tools, media, and languages (cultural and physical) to present the legend of Hagay, Dondon Houmwm’s team works collectively towards a first draft script for a public engaged performance.