February 12, 2013 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
In 2010, for an installation in a forested area at the Jardin de la Connaissance in Quebec, artist Rodney LaTourelle and landscape architect Thilo Folkerts of 100 Landschaftsarchitektur collaborated to create Garden of Cognition, a temporary garden space using approximately 40,000 discarded books stacked to form walls, benches,and carpets.
As part of the festival’s paradise theme, Garden of Cognition spun off from the mythical relationship in paradise between knowledge and nature. The garden explored how in our world of overwhelming information, one “tree of knowledge” explodes into a forest.
The books at once framed a number of outdoor rooms which would in time decompose, dissolving into the earth stimulated by a variety of mushrooms cultivated within their pages.
LaTourelle and Folkerts wanted to “expose these supposedly timeless cultural artefacts to the process of decomposition” in the process creating an ephemeral reading room and library for the senses.
Arising from the festival theme and illustrating the post-paradise life cycle, the designers cultivated, and the books nourished, eight varieties of edible mushroom such as Winecap or Oyster, which they pre-cultivated from spawn sets, prepared for insertion into the book walls in bundles, then regularly watered and humidified them.
Bright artificially colored wood plates marked and structurally supported the books, binding them and the stacks together. The garden’s colors and textures complemented the the surrounding forest, inviting visitors into the garden, and offering seating for contemplating the temporal nature of the garden within the framework of a temporary garden festival.