Human Flower Project

Taipei’s Expo: Blooms for Gearheads


An international flower show opened this month in Taipei. Real flowers will come and go, but these mechanized blooms should (with spare parts) endure for the full five-month run.


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“Burst,” a mechanical flower installation by You Wen-fu

on view at Taipei’s International Flora Expo

Photo: Reuters

For members of the press, anyway, the big hit at Taipei’s International Flora Exhibition appears to be mechanized: artist You Wen-fu’s “Burst,” 3.5 tons of faux blossom. In this video, in hangs like a chandelier and then fluffs apart to a girlie-voiced soundtrack and description (?) over a loudspeaker. (We can’t tell if the flashing lights on ‘Burst’ come from cellphone cameras or a strobe, but this is NOT your garden variety anything.)

Other mechanized attractions of the five-month expo include “leaf shaped speakers” inside the Pavillion of Dreams, a setting which “transforms visitors into beetles.” That does sound like fun! We’ve always wanted a carapace of our very own.

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Slinky xylem and phloem in the Pavillion of Dreams

Photo: China Daily

As for native plants, they’re featured on “3D interactive screens that do not require special glasses for viewing,” and visitors can “create their own ‘dream flowers’ virtually” with “radio-frequency ID bracelets.” How’s a collection of bromeliads to compete with that?

imageReal flowers are so hard to keep on schedule. These beds bloomed before the expo opened, Nov. 6

Photo: CNTV

The expo covers about 225 acres, so if you’re not fond of plants with gears, there are alternatives, lots – like lamps made of taro and a clock “crafted from bean curd with a dozen different seeds to represent the hours.”

We’re struck by how liberally the Taiwan planners mixed up fantasy and utility, vegetation and machine, the historical and the futuristic – something we can’t imagine happening at a U.S. or European floral show. But it all makes monstrous sense when you consider how uncooperative actual plants can be. The demonstration gardens (“trial operations”) of real flowers planted for the expo budded and bloomed before Taipei’s International opened, November 6.

The expo runs through April 25, 2011.


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