SONIC ESPLANADE (2009) & SONIC PROMENADE (2008)
Giving Voice to the Trees
A 12-channel sound installation for the trees in Västra Esplanaden, Växjö, Sweden.
Sonic Esplanade explores the same theme as several other works under the project title “Giving voice to the trees”. Commissioned by ISCM Sweden as part of the World New Music Days 2009 festival, Sonic Esplanade uses the potential of sound to make trees in urban environments visible and give them a value of their own. Västra Esplanaden is one of Växjö’s central parade streets. The site is designed with a double avenue of lime trees, as a typical architectural strategy to create a monumental entrance to the city. To draw attention to the trees, a multi-channel sound field was created that stretched between twelve of the esplanade’s trees, based on sounds that evoked associations with insects in different frequency ranges. Embedded in the greenery of the esplanade, a spatiality was thus created to make strollers lift their eyes and contemplate the trees that are taken for granted in everyday life.
International Society for Contemporary Music, Sweden as part of World Music Days 2009.
Rolf Giegold, technical assistance
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.
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A 10-channel sound installation for the trees in Byparken, Stavanger
Sonic Promenade, like Sonic Esplanade, addresses the city’s wide boulevards and avenues, once planted for landscaping purposes.
The work uses – in the same way as Sonic Esplanade – the potential of sound to make trees in urban environments visible and give them a value of their own. Byparken is one of Stavanger’s central places decorated with a long avenue of lime trees. As in Sonic Esplanade, a multi-channel sound field was created that stretched between ten of the avenue’s trees, based on sounds that evoked associations with insects. Through this, the intention was to make the trees visible and establish a relationship with the city’s non-human inhabitants.
Article – Biennale for Electronic and Unstable Art, Stavanger Norway
Technical concept and implementation: Manfred Fox, Fox engineering, Berlin.