SF Artists Explore What 'Green' Sounds Like


Musician Christopher Willits performs in "The Illuminated Forest." Photo by Michael Smith via Soundwave.

What does "green" sound like? Artists and musicians in San Francisco are attempting to answer that tricky question with a series of avant-sound performances and shows, including a month-long installation that allows visitors to explore an illuminated "forest" that changes with their presence, reflecting the impact people have on real ecosystems.Open through Aug. 7, "The Illuminated Forest" exhibit at the experimental art space The Lab, in San Francisco's Mission District, creates "an imaginary world inside the gallery walls," organizers say. The immersive, interactive multimedia installation uses sensors to response to visitors' movements with lights, sounds, and visual projections:

Visitors become its inhabitants and part of its ecosystem: Their presence activates both visual and auditory sensations, and leaves an imprint on the environment long after they are gone... Our presence in the environment affects this space and is forever changed (for better and for worse) with our temporal presence. This experiential exhibit actively reminds people what we do has impact: on our own lives, on others, and the world around us, both in the present and the future.

While musicians drop by to perform works on special themes such as "water stories" - in which a chamber ensemble played music inspired by the flow of the Colorado River through mountains and suburbs alike -- other "inhabitants" carve out their own ecological/artistic niches for the duration of the show.


Scenes from "The Illuminated Forest." Photos by Michael Smith via Soundwave.

Visitors who poke around the illuminated forest will discover textile trees and soft rocks by environmental artist Suzanne Husky, animals-eye views of the world by "video naturalist" Sam Easterson (the man behind the Museum of Animal Perspectives), the audible recycled textiles of Sonic Fabric creator Alyce Santoro, and the field recordings of Jorge Bachman in collaboration with Jessica Resmond, who curated the show along with Alan So.

"The Illuminated Forest" is just one of the events going on in San Francisco as part of "Green Sound," the fourth season of the biannual Soundwave sound/art/music festival put on by the local arts organization ME'DI.ATE. The festival, which runs through Aug. 13, has brought vanished soundscapes back to the urban environment, hosted concerts on a pedal-powered stage, and adorned trees in a downtown plaza with solar-powered "flowers" that collect sunlight during the day and then use the stored energy to generate lights and sounds. Now that's music to a tree-hugger's ears.

More about environmental music and sounds:
Amazing 'Augmented Ecologies' Blend Plants, Light, and Sound (Slideshow)
MIT Researchers Create Fibers That Can Hear and Produce Sound
Elemental Music Creates Sound from Glass, Stone, Metal, and Doesn't Miss a Beat
Handmade Clay Speakers Belt Out the 'Sound of the Earth'
Ceramic Speakers by Joey Roth: Look Good, Sound Great
Orba Squara's Junk-Shop Sound: New Tunes from Salvaged Instruments
Sound Machines Could Help Monitor Health of Coral Reefs

Tags: Artists | Arts | Exhibits | Music | San Francisco

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