Sunday, 29 September 2013

Environmental Art Biennale I-Park 2013

I know you have been waiting with baited breath for my instalments from I-Park re the Biennale,but due to a few technical difficulties I just couldn't get the darn thing going so here is a potted history of the event.
For three weeks commencing the 4th of september 2013 I have enjoyed some of the best weeks of my life with some really talented and lovely people, the creative enegy from this collective group has been immense and I am so pleased to have been part of it.  I shall name those people in no particular order:  Rainy Lehrman, Roger Rigorth, Carmina Escobar, Chad Cunha, Tatiana Ferahian, Linda Molenaar, Margrit Neuendorf, Olivier Huet, Scott Cazan, Tim Norris. These 10 were for the last three day days joined by Jayoung Chung, Adam Frelin and Sarah Hirschman as they had come earlier to create their pieces.

I have recently been making hand held ear trumpets as can be seen from previous posts and I liked the idea of pursuing this theme, but with live trees, would this be possible? will the live tree sap content interfere with the transmission of sound?  I needed to find this out before embarking on the project, so off into the wood I go to try it out.

Success, it sounded fantastic and I was really pleased and knew I had a project,  the art for this project though had to be part of a trail for the public and this one most definately wasn't on the trail, Ralph Crispino (Mr I-Park) gave me some options and I walked around looking for the type of trees I could work with on the trail, soon I had discovered enough trees by the pond that had a good collection of different shapes to create an interesting trail of both sound and vision.  I set about my first piece in a trunk with a hollow section at its base, this I thought might act as a sound chamber and bring some of the sound out.

The ear trumpet is placed for personal listening, although the sound chamber works to a degree, the best sound is heard through the trumpet.

For this one and the rest I had to make a number of tuning pegs from some oak, this was two and half days whittlings worth.
I then moved back to what was to be the first tree harp on the trail, this is more subtle and very easy to miss as it hides in the darker shade of the woods.

From here I went to what was to be the last piece on the trail, a lovely shaped branch formation that cried out for stringing, this one I wanted to use two sizes of nylon string, next to each other, replicating the stringing of a twelve string guitar.

 In the light of a Full Moon

This one proved to have the most amazing sound, the longer bass strings produced a wonderful full sound, the ear piece resonated to the strings and the thicker and thinner strings produced a great range of sound.

From here back to the beginning and the second tree harp on the trail, this tree provided me with the greatest range of strings, this enable me to make a harp that could be played with two hands and therefore most resembled a true harp, the sound again was full and it had a terrific range of sound.
It also enjoyed the best shadow of the five.

Ah the final one, and in some way the one I was waiting to do.  Very early on I had decided that I wanted to use stainless steel strings for one or more of the pieces, I read whilst still in England of the use of stainless steel leader fishing wire as a string for aeolian harps, so I went to 'Rivers End' a fishing shop in Old Saybrook with Tom from I-Park and Linda, there was a plethora of goodies set before us and of course they had a great selection of stainless steel leaders, I bought four different sets of packs and knew I would use them, well this was the tree for them and a very different design.
These I spiralled around the trunk of the tree vertically, with sliding bridges for tuning and clearing obstructions.  Oh my what a sound this one had, those metal strings resonating with such glory in the tree, the sound was truly phenomenal and the joy on my face was there for all.  The tree too sang and the branches rubbed together at the top and the tree creaked and groaned, I could hear all this through the ear piece.  This was natures own sound tree.

So those where my 5 pieces for the trail, we had two open days, one for the Friends of I-Park and one for the public, people came and were enthralled by all the work which was of a tremendous quality, truly outstanding.

Our whole project has been filmed and a DVD is being produced, there is talk of a catalogue in the spring and two further public openings, the biennale has been a great success for the both the artists and for I-Park a truly amazing organisation and place I recommend anyone interested in the arts should apply for.  See their website here with details of applications for next years projects:

I also created a number of hand held ear harps, some for auction others for the joy of making and gifts.

Now of course those of you who looked at my blog last year will remember the creation of the Fibonacci Tree, an instrument I created.  I was asked to give another performance to welcome guests, there happened to be amongst us two truly talented sound artists, Scott Cazan and Carmina Escobar who created a wondrous sound installation here.  I drew on their abilities to help me for the performances and what a good move that was, they made the instrument sing, Carmina is also an opera singer and sang the most wonderful vocals to compliment the sound Scott and I created.  This was a tremendous bonus and I truly hope we can all work together in the future, there was a very good chemistry.

So that is nearly it, just to say a huge thank you to all the staff at I-Park, to all the artist for being brilliant and some great evenings around the fire, singing and drinking and talking and ........
I didn't get Lymes desease this time so even happier.
I will be putting up sounds on soundcloud and a video on you tube at a later date.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Harp in Tree Part Two

A few weeks back I promised I would make a little film with the sound of the tree harp and so today I post this.  The sound is magical and well worth a trip up to heydonhill wood, details from their blog here: