Flower Tongue

WNDR Museum, Chicago, IL, April – September, 2021

Flower Tongue is a series of robot-aided print works. The series was produced onsite at the WNDR Museum, Chicago in 2021. The project was sparked by an invitation from our frequent collaborators AppleButter Animated to utilize their robotic painting machines in an installation-based artist residency they called Away From Keyboard.


Flower Tongue took advantage of three autonomous robots, painting eight hours a day, five days a week. Produced simultaneously, side by side, the works confronted a roving audience with a slow motion conversation between two flowers playing out in real time. Evolving facial expressions painted stroke by stroke accumulated on each flower as their poetic conversation trickled across the central panel. This was not communication at the speed of sound, but at the speed of image.


This unique work was produced slowly, over the course of several days, as a steady stream of museum visitors percolated and passed by, encapsulating time in material.


For us, these works question what lies in the spaces between words and in the millimeters between facial expressions. What is the actual material of communication? What if human communication is purely chemical like in plants, simply fluid in nature. 


Some additional items of interest, Flower Tongue included a custom typeface we developed specifically for the project. The impetus for the typeface was to create single-stroke calligraphic letterforms to be executed by the robot. The conversation between the two flowers was developed virtually (in a Google Doc) between Nadine and myself after a 20 minute meditation, in which we imagined that we were flowers basking in the sun. While the poem was repeated over and over by the robot, the individual facial expressions of the flowers were cycled through in random order, followed by an obliterating spiral.


Huge thanks to Megan and Jackson from AppleButter Animated for the opportunity to stretch out conceptually and materially with this project. Their patience and inventive problem solving in development and programming was essential in making this project a success.


Available Works: Flower Tongue Series