Future Forest Space (2017) – site-specific generative sound installation / music composition for Klankenbos, Neerpelt, Belgium

Photo: Gerard Coenen

Future Forest Space (2017) is an interdisciplinary public artwork created for the Radio Forest pavilion in the Klankenbos forest in Neerpelt, Belgium. Its objective has been to develop a new musical aesthetic and function by transforming sounds from the forest into an abstract musical environment that would correspond to and elevate its architectural, environmental and social surroundings; the idea has been to create a “space of the future” – a conceptual as well as an actual space between architecture, music and environment that would invite visitors to engage in the idea of long-term thinking while providing a contemplative environment for everyday activities.

The installation was made for the Pfeifen im Wald summer exhibition in July 2017, and it ran from 21 July to 23 September 2017. A recording of the music continues to be available at Radio Forest as part of its permanent soundscape archive, accessible to the visitors from a digital information stand inside the pavilion.

The generative composition is made of sounds recorded in the Klankenbos forest and transformed into abstract natural and musical sounds. The music is diffused into the space through the walls of the pavilion and the body of a large metal sculpture outside – with the help of audio transducers installed inside which turn the structures into large “invisible” speakers – which softly emit the sounds into the environment. The piece is self-organizing in nature and basically infinite, with the sonic events occurring and combining in random and probabilistic manner. It also has silent passages of variable lengths, allowing sounds from the environment to come into focus again and appear as part of the composition.

The music blends sonically and behaviourally with the existing sounds and rhythms of the forest, and appears almost as a natural part of the soundscape while introducing layers of novelty, unfamiliarity and artificiality to it. The sounds and musical phrases have also been selected and transformed with the architecture and spatial perception of the pavilion in mind, the aim having been to enhance visitors’ experience of the building. Another consideration has been the everyday function of the space (an information and meeting point, a refreshment area, and a workshop and educational facility): the music should be non-intrusive enough to accommodate and create a new aural space for all these activities.

The piece has been inspired by the potential of the arts and architecture to provide “spaces of the future” – physical and immaterial spaces that allow us to experience and imagine different, possible worlds. It has also been informed by the notions of the Anthropocene and long-term thinking, and by philosopher Timothy Morton’s concept of dark ecology – about our complex relationship to nature and future coexistence as a technologically and artificially, yet biologically interwoven part of it.

Future Forest Space (2017)

Concept and realisation: Ilpo Jauhiainen

Creative consultant: Andreas Oldörp

Technical advisors: Stefan Zintel (HBKsaar) and Yvan Vander Sanden

Supported by Musica and HBKsaar

A 4-minute excerpt of the installation music

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