WAMUNancy Daly2016

"How To Cultivate Plants Using Just Water, Nutrients And A Steady Diet Of D.C. Punk" by Ally Schweitzer

WAMUNancy Daly2016
"How To Cultivate Plants Using Just Water, Nutrients And A Steady Diet Of D.C. Punk" by Ally Schweitzer

an excerpt from the article...

Many have heard the conventional wisdom that talking to plants helps them grow. But what about playing music for them? A new exhibit in D.C. is testing that idea — and like many experiments throughout history, it begins in a garage. 

On a recent morning, that garage is being built from the ground up at Hamiltonian Gallery on U Street NW. Clad in spiky accessories and plenty of black, Kohei Urakami is cracking open a can of gray paint, preparing to coat pieces of lumber. He's working for artist Naoko Wowsugi, the brains behind a new art show-slash-science project called "Permacounterculture." 

The slabs of wood will be fashioned into a ceiling for the garage, and the garage will be fashioned into a couple of things: a music venue, to start, but also a laboratory.

"Permacounterculture" combines locally grown food with locally grown music. Wowsugi plans to line the garage's walls with wheatgrass, a bright green plant packed with vitamins and minerals. The wheatgrass will be put on a strict diet of water, nutrients and the fiery energy of D.C. punk music. 

"We cultivate the wheatgrass," Wowsugi explains, "while D.C. local punk bands play punk music.” 

Saturday, four bands will play inside the garage space. Their music — along with carbon dioxide exhaled by people — helps grow the nutritious plant, at least in theory. Wowsugi says she got the idea from an episode of TV show Mythbusters, which tested the relationship between loud music and plant growth. It involved blasting pea plants with heavy metal for hours at a time.

"I watched it on YouTube," Wowsugi says.

Mythbusters isn’t exactly peer-reviewed science, of course, but some studies have shown that sound can help plants grow. 

So once the wheatgrass is ready to harvest, Wowsugi will chop it down and juice it into a beverage for people to drink. She expects to yield about 1,500 wheatgrass shots in all. But the point isn't just to hand out free wheatgrass shots, which can be pricey at local juiceries. Wowsugi wants "Permacounterculture" to get attendees thinking about the permacultures in their own lives.

D.C. punk is a permaculture, Wowsugi says. Networks of people exchange resources and ideas, ultimately sustaining a community. When she stumbled upon the annual D.C. punk festival Damaged City this year, she says, she witnessed a living permaculture. 

"It kind of revived my soul," Wowsugi says. She became struck by the idea of creating a permaculture within art. 

The artist wants visitors to "Permacounterculture" to come away energized — and, ideally, inspired. "The priority is people just get excited," she says, then "start thinking about how they can support [others]." 

With that circle-of-life concept in mind, Wowsugi is making sure that materials from the show take on new lives, too. After “Permacounterculture” closes Sept. 10, she plans to donate some of the lumber to American University, where she teaches. The wheatgrass and soil will be passed onto City Orchard, which grows fresh fruit for people in need. (Wowsugi volunteers there.) And the project itself will live on at the D.C. Public Library, documented in its ongoing chronicle of local counterculture, the D.C. Punk Archive.

Read the original review.