Symphonic Forest

Generative Sound Installation
2021

Description

Symphonic Forest is a sculptural-sound installation that creates a data-driven soundscape that depicts the interconnected nature of different species of trees. This project proposes a 7-stage cycle of the mood of a forest, including states of waking, anxiety, fun, relaxation and sleep with different sets of modulated recordings that play chimes, hellos, musical instruments and more as the live data warbles and glitches the playback and triggering of small sound samples in response to the data spikes from the trees’ health. Each tree has its own set of sensors, a small electronic “brain” and a speaker that are physically attached to it with decorative knotted-rope.

Inspired recent discoveries of underground mycelium networks, which transport nutrients between trees — including different species of trees — Symphonic Forest displays emergent behavior: when one tree, for example, goes into a state of anxiety, it transmits this message (via wifi) to all the other trees and they will slowly turn towards that same state, playing similar sounds. The viewer will experience the entire mood cycle over a period of about 10-15 minutes, encouraging them to listen to what the trees have to say.

Working with about five different species of trees, each one has both a Tree Sensor and a Leaf Sensor attached to it, which capture the dynamic water flow in the trees vascular system and the electro-chemical activity of its leaves. The data drives the sounds themselves and the change of moods for the forest, making this a non-predictive and ever-changing artwork.

Thanks
To the Bloedel Reserve for the support at their artist-in-residency program