Gardens have consistently been regarded as a reflection of society, serving as a miniature representation of the ever-evolving dynamic between nature and culture. From the 18th, the garden was built more for pleasure and contemplation than for survival or production. People couldn’t get enough of these botanical status symbols as they tried to outdo one another by filling their gardens and glasshouses with unique plants. The garden became a symbol of secular power and politics. Therefore, plant collectors are sent around the world to discover new specimens, which would then be brought back, hybridised and taken to other parts of the world to be planted in the plantation system. A plant that was brought to an institution such as Kew Gardens would be given a Latin name, and in the process, the local knowledge that existed about that plant would be extracted and the source of the knowledge erased. By supplanting the local name, the world in which that plant existed also disappeared.For plants, naming is not just about their specificity, but also about what it tells us about the culture and history of the plants.Plants are inseparable from their original places and people, as sources of food and nutrition, medicines, and technological materials - and central to ceremonial traditions, spiritual beliefs, narratives, and language.
After research in the RHSl Library, Yujie decided to through the Yunnan Camellia as an entry point, and collect the local names and traditions of camellia by collaborating with local people. Yujie combined the collected stories and distributed the content in three spaces through Unreal 5 to create a 3D immersive game. At the beginning of the game the audience is placed in a garden of camellias and objects from the European botanical gardens. When the audience approaches the camellias they will hear a voice of the Yunnan indigenous people calling the local name of the camellia. The audience will need to follow this sound to find their way out of the botanical garden. This project aim to to reconnect the camellia with its place of origin and encourage the audience to consider and explore the deep connection between plants, places and people.