It feels strange to be moved by the sound of lettuce dying. When you were a very little kid, your parents may have personified your carrot sticks, wiggling them away from your pudgy fingers, yelping in what they thought was a funny carrot voice: “Please don't eatch me, nooooo.” You laughed then, but you won't when you hear Fabrico “interaction designer” Leonardo Amico's audio recordings of romaine leaves on a slow, terminal ascension to The Big Whole Foods in the Sky.
Listening to William Basinski's haunting ambient masterwork the Disintegration Loops, you're reminded of how the sound of things falling apart can affect us. While less sonically impressive and contextually devastating, Amico's Processing Decay gives the listener a startling perspective on plant death.
Amico hooked some romaine into an electric circuit and used oscillators and a CMOS logic chip to transform the changes in the lettuce's evaporating water content and decomposing cells into tones that gradually shift as the lettuce wilts.
In the beginning, the lettuce pulses like a relentless jungle insect backed by a helicopter. Five days later, the tones are alternately squeaky and distorted and deeper. The pace has slowed down. The leaves are shriveled, probably slick, and perhaps smelling like a compost bin. Go ahead, you can weep. You'll sob torrents when someone wires up tomato wedges, cucumber slices, bell pepper strips and some fennel for a salad symphony.
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