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Data Garden: Plants You Can Hear.

November 12, 2011
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Text by Lauren Gordon. Images by Sarah Hull.

Imagine purchasing a discreet piece of paper, unsuspecting in every way except for its slightly grainy texture, with a digital album code printed on it. Now imagine after using that code to download new and exciting music, you plant that card in the ground and watch as it grows into a real live plant. Sound too Magic School Bus for you?

Believe it or not, it works. And it’s the premise behind a new eco-friendly music label, Data Garden, which specializes in merging electronic music with, well, biology. The company officially launched their line of plantable music in October with a celebration concert at Bartram Gardens in Southwest Philadelphia.

The concept has been brewing since the spring of 2010, when Joe Patitucci, who performs under the name Tadoma, sold out his run of CDs. Printing more copies seemed illogical to him.

“I just started thinking about how we don’t really need to be printing plastic to distribute music anymore,” Patitucci recalls. “So my buddy Alex Tyson and I thought to start up Data Garden.”

Data Garden merges the digital download with a physical object that lives and grows. The download card is basically a biodegradable eco-paper embedded with real seeds. Once planted, the paper composts away and out grows what Patitucci calls “plants you can hear.”

“We thought about bringing potted plants to shows but then I had horrible visions of what touring would be like,” he laughs.

Patitucci’s interest in electronic music and his work as Tadoma began almost as organically as his new business endeavor.

“I was really bored of writing lyrics,” he says. “It felt a little self-indulgent. So I started taking in the sounds around me – the wind in the trees, the sound of the buses, anything you could hear – and tried to work it into my music.”

Data Garden is meant to be a full-on community. Their website is an online magazine for electronic music and sustainable art. They operate the music label, where they support electronic artists and bands like Cheap Dinosaurs, and Ray & the Prisms, as well as Tadoma. The label releases all of their music on the biodegradable cards.

“The traditional model for the record label is broken,” says Patitucci, who runs the operation with Tyson and Ian Cross. “We are looking to redefine what it means to be a record label. We are looking to be a destination for people who are interested in electronic music, bio-art, video art. We are not just bringing in music nerds but all different kinds of nerds.”

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