International Garden Festival
Reford Gardens/Jardins de Métis
Grand-Métis, Québec, Canada
THE COMPETITION. The International Garden Festival at Reford Gardens/Jardins de Métis holds an annual competition to design temporary gardens that create memorable experiences by bringing together the visual arts, architecture, design, landscape, and the environment. “The Festival encourages participating designers to explore all facets of the garden, from the physical setting (site and context) to creating a range of sensory, emotional and intellectual experiences for the visitor. The Festival sees the garden as a space for creative interaction, while not negating its botanical and horticultural dimensions. The Festival imagines the garden as a multi-sensorial space and encourages designers to consider the visitor’s experience in the design of the garden, provoking interaction, participation, exchange and reflection.”
THE DESIGN. There is a strong legacy of integrating modern technology into the design of gardens. Contemporary design has shifted away from this paradigm, eschewing technology for a “traditional” aesthetic. Recently, there has been a movement to explore the use of mobile and digital technology in art, design, and the landscape, as exemplified by experimental artists like Natalie Jeremijenko, Janet Echelman, and Aaron Koblin. Text Me seeks to elevate the art of the garden by continuing this design trajectory.
In Text Me, visitors explore how the digital world has changed the ways in which they interact with the physical world around them. The garden is composed of a grassy field in a wooded clearing, broken apart by a grid of inset LED light strips. Anyone can change how the garden is experienced by using their mobile device to text instructions to the grid, thus imposing a physical change upon the landscape through a technology that they use everyday. This mechanism, explained through text walls placed around the garden, gives visitors direct control over how the garden is perceived, by themselves and by others. The changing colors and behaviors of the light grid provide an opportunity for visitors to observe and reflect upon how their actions taken in the digital world affect the landscape and people around them.