Dezeen Magazine

Carsten Holler Slide, photograph by Martino Margheri

Carsten Höller installs slide experiment in Florentine palazzo

Twin slides loop through a Renaissance palace created as part of an installation by Carsten Höller and neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso, which explores emotional effects of people on plants.

Called the Florence Experiment, the interactive show at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy, investigates the symbiotic emotional relationship that exists between biological life and humans.

"Palazzo Strozzi has become a site of real contemporary experimentation and reflection, turning an architectural Renaissance masterpiece into a workshop of dialogue between art and science," said Arturo Galansino, curator and director general of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi.

Carsten Holler Slide, photograph by Martino Margheri

Höller has installed his art-slides in several unsual locations around the world. In Miami the artist installed a set of corkscrewing slides reached via a spiral staircase on top of a shopping mall.

In London, England, he inserted a slide in the massive Anish Kapoor-designed ArcelorMittal Orbit in the Olympic Park, and affixed another pair of duelling slides to the side of the Hayward Gallery on the Southbank.

Visitors to the installation in Florence can slide down one of the pair of intertwined slides from the second floor of the Palazzo Strozzi to the courtyard below, holding a living plant that will be given to them as part of the experiment.

Carsten Holler Slide, photograph by Martino Margheri

After the slide, participants enter a pop-up laboratory in the basement where scientists will monitor the plant's "photosynthetic parameters and volatile molecules". These are apparently produced when the plant senses the emotions of the visitor experiencing the rush of the slide ride.

Also in the basement are a set of cinemas, one playing snippets of famous comedies and the other showing clips of infamous horror films.

Pipes from the underground cinema will carry air from the basement to the facade, carrying with it "volatile chemical compounds" produced by the visitor's reactions to the different films.

Outside, trellis wires in upside-down Y-shapes will branch from each pipe. Wisteria growing on the side of the building will choose a path to grow up where the wires split – according to the experiment's hypothesises.

It is expected that the amused or fearful reactions of the experiment's participants will effect the direction the wisteria takes. By the end of the summer a "plant graph" illustrating the relationship between human emotions and plants will be writ large on the facade of the palazzo.

The Florence Experiment will be at the Palazzo Strozzi until the 26th August 2018.

Photography by Martino Margheri.