Adina Ionescu-Muscel

April-May 2023

Residency in collaboration with S.P.A.C.E. (LaborBerlin) and the project SPECTRAL

Info on the Residency Programmes

Ephemera Happenings


The rotting logs, filed mushrooms, crumbling leaves, ancient sands and greening grass are not discreet things; they are happenings taking shape through deep time and the ephemera of now and now and now. Natasha Myers

They breathe us into being.

Mattering matter matters.


Experiments with leaves as filters

The phytogram technique

The phytogram is an innovative artistic technique developed by Dutch artist Karel Doing. It involves placing plant materials such as flowers, leaves and roots, treated with vitamin C, onto a photosensitive emulsion and exposing it to light. When the film used contains existing images, the phenols present in the plants interacting with the silver salts in the photosensitive emulsion trigger chemical reactions that alter the pre-existing images. This creative process gives rise to unique visual compositions, offering new perspectives and interpretations of the original narrative.

The Berlin intervention

Ephemera Happenings | Multi-projectors installation

Adina Ionescu-Muscel,
Nephrolepis exaltata,
Urtica dioica,
Daucus carota,
and many others

«Ephemera Happenings, the new project I developed during the S.P.A.C.E. residency in Berlin, continues my initial work on phytogram technique as a form of disruptive intervention to well-established narratives. Tackling the tension between Leni Riefenstahl’s images and phytograms, my work aims to explore speculative storytelling by giving agency to plant matter and sharing control over the narrative with plants.

Images of the idealized human body, pictured by one of the most famous cinematic propaganda machines and used to promote human exceptionalism are re-presented to the public after the action of plants and flowers on film.

Within the realm of phytograms, the human body struggles to emerge from the depths of the film emulsion, entwined in a symbiotic dance with flora through the alchemy of chemical intermediaries. In this union, a notion of altered temporality takes root, where plants, not us, behold the cosmic expanse. We are but fleeting imprints in the chronicles of botanical time.»

[…] He told me that his conviction that humans grossly underestimate plants has its origins in a science-fiction story he remembers reading as a teen-ager. A race of aliens living in a radically sped-up dimension of time arrives on Earth and, unable to detect any movement in humans, come to the logical conclusion that we are “inert material” with which they may do as they please. The aliens proceed ruthlessly to exploit us. (Stefano Mancuso subsequently wrote to say that the story he recounted was actually a mangled recollection of an early “Star Trek” episode called “Wink of an Eye”). Michael Pollan, The Intelligent Plant, The New Yorker Magazine, 23/12/2023

Optical Sound and Plants' Interferences

«Another aspect of my research during the residency concerns optical sound and interferences created between the human voice and plants acting on film emulsion.

Open source resources, experiential knowledge sharing, and do-it-yourself tools form integral components of the analog practice and experimental filmmaking, resonating profoundly with artists worldwide through the artist-run labs website

In my particular scenario, the resources provided on the website empowered me to initially transcribe digital voice recordings onto plastic strips, and subsequently imprint them onto 16mm film strips using flat printing techniques.

This newfound practice prompted me to embark on a novel investigation into the distinctive role of plants in the generation of optical sound and their interaction with the human voice.»

Formol, a new discovery in Berlin

«Working with specific companions, such as Nephrolepis exaltata, opened the door to a journey of discovery, where new narratives gradually unfolded, beckoning other elements to join the exploration. One of these elements is formaldehyde, more commonly known as formol, which shares a rich history of preservation and conservation, intertwined with humanity's fascination for specimens and anomalies.»

More info HERE

A Bibliography

Adina's Biography

Adina Ionescu-Muscel is a Belgian-Romanian visual artist currently based in Brussels. She holds a background in Psychology from Bucharest, as well as Anthropology from Brussels. With a diverse artistic practice, she explores various mediums including installation, textile, photography, and film. Alongside her artistic pursuits, she shares her expertise and research through lectures and workshops, both in Belgium and internationally.