in Klankenbos

view from my bedroom window
I am out in a sound forest on the border between Belgium and Holland, in a rural area with a forest mixed of pines, beech and oak.  In the main part of the forest you can clearly see that once this area was coastal, the earth is in fact sandy and the pines are similar to those you see on the Mediterranean coast. Here a cultural centre (including a theatre and music organisation) sits amongst the trees.

I have been invited out to Klankenbos as part of a group led by the artist Caroline Locke, who is an old friend and collaborator and is making one of the latest commissioned works here in the forest.  Alongside myself and Caroline are 9 students from Derby University Fine Art degree (where Caroline is also a lecturer), sadly Noel Murphy a musician who was meant to also come along has come down with a nasty bug and couldn’t make it. We are here to investigate the forest and think about ideas framed around sound and the forest.  I have been invited to take part as an artist who works with sound as an inherent element of my interdisciplinary practice.  In relation to our work with forests.  I will be presenting AI’s work and the Relate project tomorrow evening as part of this residency.

Klankenbos  is a programme of inspiring artworks in the forest, each piece focuses on sound but in a way more interdisciplinary in nature than I had expected. Through sound the works represent energy and climate using sculpture, kinetics and technology.
The works here in the forest are stunning and surprising. A huge metal flute that you can walk into and be immersed in, as your physical presence inside the flute triggers air flow, creating a strange vibration and low level sound through the tunnel and your body, as the flute plays.  A structure reminiscent of a mine shaft, or trench takes you down under ground and then up again into a transparent cube where suddenly the forest is watching you as you watch it, separated from the sounds and sensations of the forest around you, the cube’s walls create a see through barrier.  A large kinetic sculpture of wooden boxes on springs are triggered by a light sensor, running motors that make the boxes jump about, clanking and banging, each box with a different sound texture created by different things inside them.  5 robotic cuckoos make loud robotic cuckoo noises high up in the trees every 15 minutes and a large bird house acts as a recording studio for canary birds, blasting their recordings back into the forest and at the  other bird inhabitants of the forest outside the house.  This work reminds me of when me and Silvia’s were skyping Mario in Rio whilst setting up the sensors in Fineshade Woods and in his garden in Rio.  The birds of Fineshade Woods created such a rucus in Mario’s garden… as all the Mata Atlantica birds reacted to these new non-tropical bird sounds, coming close to where the computer was and making a lot of noise in response.  That said I have never liked seeing birds in cages, there is something shocking about watching these fat yellow canaries, restricted in flight, making music for us humans – as the resident birds of the forest fly free above them, outside of the cage.

Lots of thoughts about energy, wind, rain and light manifested as kinetic movement, vibration and sound… I am interested in the way these permanent sculptures that need so much maintenance (many of them being run by electricity, motors and electronics) decay out here in the forest, they sometimes work and sometimes don’t, they react and weather, with the weather.  I’m intrigued how the different interactions that are inherent in each work create different experiences of play, reflection and dialogue.  Like with ACBT there is a trajectory or journey through each one, they all have a dialogue with each other that is enabled by the successful curation of the forest, rather than possibly the intentions of the artists who made them.

I will be doing some experiments hopefully with the students and the sensor kit in the forest over the next couple of days which will be uploaded to the old database but hopefully will provide some ideas and activities that we can look at, poke about and play with when I get back… both for the schools workshops coming up in May and also for future interventions, making.

I will keep blogging and uploading photos here.


Posted: April 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: News | ↑ Back to top