Invisible garden

Question: does a near-reality or a near-fantasy world arise through the mental processing of the impressions and perceptions of your senses?

Der unsichtbare Garten_Johannes Deutsch_Stift Admont (2)Go blindfold through an invisible garden and find out! Our “view of the world” is the result of complex and often by no means obvious processes of perception and of processing the resulting sensory impressions and knowledge. This is true of both our real world and the virtual one. In cooperation with the Monastery gardener Karl Amon the media artist Johannes Deutsch has created an unusual “Made for Admont” work of art: a museum-garden object that is intended as an invasion of the senses of feeling, smelling and hearing.

This is, however, not a garden for blind people but rather one in which blind people can bring new sensory perceptions to the sighted and where blind and sighted people can exchange experiences. To enable this to happen every visitor must put on a blindfold before entering the garden and then being led through it under the expert guidance of a blind person.

The garden has been conceived on the model of interaction with and immersion in a virtual world and so only is apparent after specific navigation. This special garden borders on the herb garden. It is visually and hermetically sealed from the outside by a thicket-like hedge of pines. Within it the non-visual senses (feeling, smelling etc.) are exposed – on a predetermined path – to various young trees from the region which have been chosen and planted on haptic, olfactory and acoustic criteria. Our hands (as also our hearing and sense of smell) become “data gloves” and navigators through this immersion in the natural and yet unusual world of perception.

Our blind museum and art guides are more experienced in navigating this difficult thicket. By exchanging experiences they help us to come to grips with this world. They also arouse our attention in an extension of our normal consciousness for the specific plastic, tactile and olfactory qualities of the museum garden.

The garden was opened on 1 May 2007 and will remain in existence for several years. Since this is living material, it is impossible to predict how the plants will react to their initial transplantation and how they will alter in the course of time. Please take the experimental character of this project into consideration.

Scientific advice and responsibility for the garden and guided tours: the Odilien Institute, Graz, the Styrian Association for the Blind and Visually Disadvantaged, and Björn Einecke from the Institute for Adult Knowledge, Frankfurt University.

Here you can watch a short Podcast about the invisible garden: