Joe Patitucci, who’s spent the last decade connecting us to nature by converting the biorhythms of plants into real-time music.
Modern life can be isolating. We’re wrapped up in our social media feeds, rushing to log into the next Zoom meeting, hurtling down the road in our metal capsules, or holed up in our houses. Being cut off from the natural world often leaves us feeling disconnected from ourselves and others. Enter this week’s guest on Before IT Happened, Joe Patitucci, who’s spent the last decade developing devices that connect us to nature by converting the biorhythms of plants into real-time music, or what he calls, “a sonic window into the secret life of plants.” Tune in now to hear how it all came together for Joe, from growing up in a family of piano teachers and electrical engineers to starting a music label and ultimately creating plant music for audiences all over the world.
Before any world-changing innovation, there was a moment, an event, a realization that sparked the idea before it happened. This is a podcast about that moment — about that idea. Before IT Happened takes you on a journey with the innovators who imagined — and are still imagining — our future. Join host Donna Loughlin as her guests tell their stories of how they brought their visions to life.
JUMP STRAIGHT INTO:
(01:57) - Joe on growing up outside of NYC - “I had this really cool interaction between living in nature and then being kind of in the cultural mecca of New York and the East Village and music and jazz and all these things.”
(11:14) - TEDx Philly - “I was invited to be music director for TEDx Philly. That actually was a huge watershed moment for me because that was the first time I worked with a really big team on something that was a passion project.”
(13:21) - Data Garden and Joe’s next set of milestones - “Records were starting to become cool again and everybody would always ask me like, ‘You should release a record.’ And I would just think, ‘I don't feel like producing a piece of material plastic that could outlive me on this planet.’”
(19:34) - From Data Garden to PlantWave - “What if we took the sensory input of a plant and used the wave form of a plant and actually translated that into pitch and then had that play instruments.”
(27:53) - Turning plant biorhythms into music - “We’re measuring how much connection there is between two points in the plant. That connection between those two points is varying over time based on the plant moving water around through its system as it is photosynthesizing.”
(32:56) - The benefits of plant music - “What PlantWave does is it really helps to connect people more to a moment and helps people be more present. And that's associated in a lot of studies with things like stress reduction, just like better relating with people.”
Learn more about PlantWave and follow on Instagram
Listen to a live stream of plant music at Plants.fm
Learn more about Joe Patitucci and follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Spotify
Watch tutorials and more on how PlantWave works on their YouTube channel
Listen to plant music from Data Garden’s 2012 exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Watch a related Ted Talk by Greg Gage: Electrical experiments with plants that count and communicate
Listen to Before IT Happened’s: Solving the Cheese Problem with Change Foods' David Bucca
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Before IT Happened is produced by Donna Loughlin and StudioPod Media with additional editing and sound design by nodalab. All episodes are written and developed by Susanna Camp. The Show Coordinator is Nicole Genova and the Executive Producer is Katie Sunku Wood.