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


Photo: Gerard Coenen

Future Forest Space (2017) is a site-specific, generative sound installation and musical composition, created for the Radio Forest pavilion in the Klankenbos public park / sound art forest in Neerpelt, Belgium. It is made of sounds recorded in the Klankenbos forest and transformed into an abstract environmental music, or musical environment. The sounds have been treated electronically to contemplate both the existing soundscape of Klankenbos and the architecture of Radio Forest, as well as the idea of the forests of the future. The composition is played through audio transducers installed inside the walls of the pavilion which turn the building into a large “invisible” speaker, as well as on a big metal sculpture outside which softly emits 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 – a behaviour inspired by that of the surrounding natural sounds and the cyclical yet evolving quality of nature in general. It has also silent passages of variable lengths, allowing sounds from the environment to come into focus again and appear like part of the composition.

The idea has been to create a public art work that corresponds to and elevates its architectural and environmental setting, to develop new musical aesthetic through the use of environmental sounds and generative processes, and to contemplate the idea of future forests and our evolving relationship with the nature.

The piece has been inspired by curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist’s comment about how art and architecture should focus on creating ‘spaces of the future’ – spaces that don’t necessarily make sense in the current economic and political climate but which nevertheless provide us experiences to imagine a possible, better world. It has also been informed by philosopher Timothy Morton’s idea of ‘dark ecology’, about our paradoxical relationship to nature and our future coexistence within it.

The installation runs from 21st July until 24th September 2017. After this a recording of it will be accessible at Radio Forest as part of their soundscape archive.

Future Forest Space on YouTube (this is a 6-minute version for the archival and other playback purposes – what’s different here is the lack of the real-time sounds of the surrounding nature, the architecture of the space, and the indeterminate, self-organizing character of the original piece with longer silences between the elements).

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