Liu Chuang

If the process of modernization is to become the grass, it will turn into the flower in a more unpredictable manner.

This is a promotional video made up by the artist for the biological product BBR1, the full name of which is spelled as No.1 of Blossom Bud Restrainer (an English name designated by its manufacturer). BBR1 is a plant hormone developed by the scientists at Beijing Institute of (Scientific Studies of) Landscape Architecture in 2014. Its major effect is to restrain the growth of blossom buds of willow trees so that willow catkins can be controlled. The product has been launched on the market and can now be found on Taobao.

Poplar trees are a plant species widely cultivated by human beings and are grown in Europe, Asia and North America. They grow extremely rapidly and can survive in dry soil. Their trunks are very straight and are therefore a suitable wood. During the 1960s, the Forestry Bureau of Yi County, which is located on the outskirts of Beijing, bred a species that is able to grow very fast and was named the Yi County poplar. The species was then grown extensively in the northern part of China. Beijing, for example, adopted it as the street tree, and the number eventually reached 5 million in total, half of which are female. The flower-ing of poplar trees happens every year in late April and early May. The female trees blossom and bear fruits. After the fruits crack open, poplar seeds, or poplar catkins, drift with the wind, resembling a massive snowstorm due to their astronomical amount. This brings a considerable environmental hazard. Not only does the city see an increase in respiratory diseases, but also the risk of fire rises, as poplar catkins are a highly flammable substance. Strangely enough though, in ancient China, poplar catkins flying in the air were often used as a metaphor for the unpredictable individual fate. Catkins are also used as a Chinese medicine for hemostatic purposes, but have now become a modern disease. The government has tried many ways to solve the problem, but has had little success. Finally, the scientists at Beijing Institute of (Scientific Studies of) Landscape Archi-tecture managed to produce the biological product. Every year, in late April and early May, which is the flowering season for poplar trees, BBR1 is injected so that the amount of catkins will be reduced in the coming year. Because the process of budding and blossoming cannot be reversed for poplar trees, BBR1 can only inhibit the buds, and needs to be injected during the flowering season every year. Sadly, howev-er, after the injection, poplar trees will invest all of the energy that was originally used for budding and flowering in growing trunks and leaves. Trees will grow faster and bigger than before, and the amount of poplar catkins will experience a corresponding rise.

All images used for the video are taken from the Internet, depicting the inseparable relationship between human beings’ interventions with the species of poplar trees and their natural growth. We all know that plants are effectively manipulated to participate in the process of modernization, which makes them evolve at a rate much more rapid than others. New species are constantly being bred. They are tougher, slier, but are at the same time nearing the moment where they become out of control. This is an error in mathematical terms, an explosion between a single poplar and a snow-storm. But the nature does not intend to be human beings’ enemy. It just loves to hide itself.

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July 07, 2015–August 21, 2015

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