This virtual garden project will connect green spaces from five cities around the globe through an App available to download online. Users will be immersed in 360 videos of the parks and gardens with layers of text, sound and botanical prints guiding their exploration and providing a narrative experience. Users will pass from one garden to another connected by common plants. So, a Fatsia Japonica in Liverpool may lead users to a Fatsia Japonica in Shanghai. The layers of the gardens will peel back to reveal shared plant cultures and history. Stories of migration, empire, food and celebration, folklore and healing. Narratives will be added by botanists, gardeners, and visitors to the gardens, to form a compendium of plants that will be accessed by plant labels in the garden triggering text, sound files and illustrations. Garden visitors will be encouraged to collect cuttings that they can download and share on social media through virtual Wardian cases, and these devices will also be used for visitors to connect their own stories to specimens in the gardens as text or audio files thereby sharing their experience, knowledge, stories of plants with others in different parts of the world.
Botanical prints will add another layer to this experience. In contrast to the digital technology of the 360 video, the prints add an organic element that speaks of plant chemistry, particularly around colour, and echoes the natural processes of the garden.
The influence of plants on technology will also be explored in the structure of this virtual garden. Organic ideas abound in computing technology from branching structures to root files. Themes of navigation and orientation will be examined. Key in the emerging field of immersive media is how to orient users within the context of the digital representation and what better than natural methods of navigation that we might all subconsciously use in a garden, following a bird song, meandering along a border, drawn to the sound of water.
This project will connect together threads of global plant culture and consider our shared physical environment as well as our interconnectedness through digital space.