Tree Talk (2018)
BPSW/UM 2018 Emerging Artist
Tree Talk, a temporary and performative work of art, highlights living plant forms within BPSW, particularly Ponderosa pine trees. I propose a sound installation which will make both the internal physiology of individual trees, and the intricacy of networks between trees, audible. Tree Talk will consist of three components— first, on-site research and educational workshops. Then, I will collect sound from 5-30 trees via solar-powered microphones, encased in clear acrylic weatherproofed boxes and lifted approximately five feet from the ground by steel rod. I will sonify this data with synthesizers and amplify it via solar-powered speakers which will be suspended so sound descends from the tree canopy. Depending on viewer location, sounds of different trees will become more apparent or fade into the background. The research will culminate in a live performance and recording. The piece will be responsive, organic, and in dialogue with the site. I hope the work will encourage exploration of patterns within plants: how they transport water and nutrients; how processes sustaining them are similar to processes sustaining humans; and how even when a tree is no longer alive, the remains of these processes are still vital—a nod to Lincoln’s industrial timber heritage.
For the educational component, I will collaborate with Gerard Sapés, a University of Montana PhD candidate studying Ponderosa. Gerard will facilitate 3-5 workshops for community members and/or students, highlighting invisible processes within trees—tension needed to move water against the force of gravity, cell changes during drought, the dynamic relationship between Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, and mycorrhizal networks connecting trees underground. Students can use a device called MIDIsprout, translating changes in electrical impulses within a plant into signals that can be turned into sound. We know MIDIsprout picks up on internal circuitry of living things— plants and humans, but not rocks or tables. We don’t yet know how to correlate these sounds to specific changes inside organisms. Perhaps audible patterns change when the plant experiences changes in light, temperature, or precipitation? Perhaps humans impact the patterns.
BPSW/UM Emerging Artist 2018