KLANGWÄLDCHEN | NORDIC EMBASSIES
12-channel site-specific sound installation for the birch trees outside the Nordic Embassies, Berlin, Germany.
GIVING VOICE TO THE TREES
GIVING VOICE TO THE TREES
Since 2006 – for almost two decades, through a number of projects, I have been artistically exploring the value of trees in urban environments, and their right to life for their own sake. In the anthopocentric city, nature has a value only in relation to its usefulness to humans. It is either regarded as a weed or used as ‘living material’, a concept that is quite common in landscape architecture when talking about trees and shrubs. Vegetation is used as an architectural material in the same way as glass, steel and concrete and, like weeds, it has no intrinsic value. Through large-scale public sound installations, involving whole groups, clusters or even avenues of trees, the attentive stroller can experience ‘voices’ from the greenery drawing attention to the trees – and their existence.
KLANGWÄLDCHEN | NORDIC EMBASSIES, BERLIN (2007)
Klangwäldchen | Nordic Embassies was developed for the group of thirteen planted birch trees outside the Nordic embassies.
The birches outside the embassy complex are part of an overall architectural context, where the vision has been to create a typical “Nordic atmosphere, where for example the embassies in the Nordic cluster are represented by specific Nordic building materials. For example, blocks of lava stone have been transported from Iceland to Berlin. By giving the thirteen trees their own ‘voices’, my aim was to lift the birches out of the material architectural context they were forced into, and instead give them a value of their own.
The work could be experienced as a silent, softly synchronized sound cloud emerging from the greenery of the birches. The sounds moving between the speakers in the trees enhanced the perspective and depth of the site and its non-human inhabitants – just as sunlight streams into the greenery.
Commissioner: Swedish Embassy. Aris Fioretos, Cultural Attachée
Technical concept and implementation: Fox Engineering, Berlin
KLANGWÄLDCHEN | KURFÜRSTENSTRAßE, BERLIN (2007)
24-channel site-specific sound installation for a small forest of birch trees in KurfürstenStraße
A previous version of Klangwäldchen was developed for one of the then still existing abandoned plots in central Berlin where a population of self-planted birch trees lived an anonymous life behind the fenced site. Unlike the thirteen birch trees of the Nordic Embassies, which were part of a rigid landscape architectural context, these trees were regarded as weeds, to be cut down when the plot was to be redeveloped. Common to both situations was the trees’ non-value as non-human urban inhabitants. This version of Klangwäldchen spanned the entire site, an area of approximately 500 square meters. Divided into four smaller groups of ‘voices’, the slow carefully synchronized sound cloud moved between the trees, enhancing the perspective and depth of the site and its non-human inhabitants.
Commissioner: K&K Kulturmanagement & Kommunication in commission by Quartiersmanagements Magdeburger Platz. In cooporation with Universität der Künste Berlin (Prof. Daniel Ott, Komponist, Institut für Neue Musik der UdK Berlin and Dr. Martin Supper, UNI.K- Udk Studio für Klangkunst und Klangforschung)
Technical concept and realization: Fox Ingenieurbüro Berlin.