360 photos and immersive soundscapes, 2021
Branching Songs is a multimedia project that bears witness, using art methods, to the trees and environs supporting the well-being of humans and nonhuman life in our immediate urban ecology. To date, Branching Songs has featured the ‘1308 Trees’ sites where trees are being cleared for the Transmountain Pipeline expansion, as well as an old-growth Douglas Fir living in “Lighthouse Park” on Musqueam Nation lands.
This project combines new technologies, such as 360 photography, ambisonic field recording, geophonic recording, and contact mic recording with methods from acoustic ecology and multispecies art-making (read about the production processes here). Listen to the soundscapes below and hear the mix of biophony and anthrophony of the surrounding environment, and the presence of the trees recorded using contact mics and touch interaction.
360 image of an old red cedar at the 1308 Trees site by Stoney Creek, on the lands being cleared for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.
360 image of alder trees at the 1308 Trees site by Stoney Creek, on the lands being cleared for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.
360 image of a red cedar tree on Trans Mountain Trail next to the Trans Mountain Pipeline site on the lands being cleared for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.
Read the review of Branching Songs by Dorothy Woodend in The Tyee “The Art of Empathy: Many of us feel the destruction of the natural world acutely. ‘Branching Songs’ captures that, aiming to restore beauty and galvanize.”
360 image of an old growth Douglas Fir living in “Lighthouse Park” on Musqueam Nation lands
Alongside immersive ambisonic, geophonic, and electromagnetic recordings of the environment, Douglas Fir at Lighthouse Park also features Wild Empathy’s first use of MIDI Biodata— performance data created from the tree itself. This involved the use of a MIDI Biodata Sonification device which measures changes to the tree’s internal state via noninvasive electrodes placed on the bark— in this case on a charismatic burl of the fir. This data is recorded alongside the soundscape, then processed into the composition via vocoding to create a ghostly sonic afterimage; the tree’s performance resonating back into the soundscape.
A 360 video of an ancient Douglas Fir and cedars in Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver