The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Calif., will open the world’s first photosynthetic restaurant this spring. Conceptual artist Jonathon Keats has developed a gourmet cuisine for flora by filtering and mixing different wavelengths of sunlight. Keats’ installation will be on view in the floral plantings in front of the historic Crocker from April 16 through July 17, 2011.
An experimental philosopher, Keats has a long history of encompassing other species in his installations. He has choreographed a ballet for honeybees by selectively planting flowers around their hives. He has also produced travel documentaries for houseplants by projecting videos of foreign skies onto their foliage in a darkened theater.
“What motivates me is curiosity. In the case of my photosynthetic restaurant, I wondered what it’s like to be human and to do peculiarly human things like savoring a good meal,” Keats explains. “Adapting a common human activity to the plant kingdom, without anthropomorphizing the plants, is a way to explore an aspect of human behavior that we otherwise take for granted.”
Keats’ efforts to share aspects of human culture with other species encourages us to scrutinize our own cultural values. He adds, “If this project succeeds, the plants at the Crocker will eat well, and the people who encounter them, myself included, will have a provocative conversation.”