The Florence Experiment: Science and Art at Palazzo Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi, Florence

Palazzo Strozzi, Florence

The Florence Experiment

The Florence Experiment unites art and science by studying the interaction between plants and humans through two monumental slides. Palazzo Strozzi is hosting The Florence Experiment from April 19 until August 26, 2018. It’s a new site-specific project by the artist Carsten Höller and the scientist Stefano Mancuso, and curated by Arturo Galansino. They give visitors the chance to slide 20 meters down from the palace’s second floor loggia to the courtyard. There is also a lab for analyzing data in the “Strozzina” [basement of Palazzo Strozzi].

Höller and Mancuso

Carsten Höller is famous for his deliberation of the relationship between art, science and technology. Stefano Mancuso, founder of plant neurobiology, studies plant intelligence. He analyzes them as complex beings endowed with extraordinary sensitivity. The plants might be able to communicate with the outside through chemical composites and perceive and emit. The Florence Experiment proposes a consideration of the relationship between humans and plants. Palazzo Strozzi thus becomes a scientific and artistic space for the communicative and emotional abilities of all living beings.

Two big slides in the Palazzo Strozzi courtyard

The first part of the project is made up of the two big slides in the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi (The Florence Experiment). Every week a random number of visitors go down the slide carrying a bean plant. Afterwards, the plant is delivered to a team of scientists who analyze its photosynthetic parameters and the molecules it emitted in reaction to the slide. Results are compared with plants that slid down alone, and others that did not go down the slide.

The air of fear and fun

The second part of the experiment is called “Plant Decision-Making Based on Human Smell of Fear and Joy”.  Two cinema theaters are used. A horror film plays in one and comedy film shorts in the other. The visitor’s fear or joy releases different chemical compounds into the air. Through two vacuum ducts, these compounds are transported onto the facade of the palace. Here they can influence the growth of the wisteria plants positioned on the palace in a Y shape. The “air of fear” is released from one arm of the Y, while “the air of joy” is released from the other.

The Florence Experiment: how and where

The Florence Experiment is open every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday to 11 p.m. until August 26 at Palazzo Strozzi. To participate to the project it is necessary to read and accept the warnings in the ticket office and available online at this link. The minimum age is 6, minimum height between 130 and 195 cm, and weight below 120 kg. Signed approval from an adult is necessary for children under 14.