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Tread Lightly/Digital Forest
curated by Ute Ritschel
Shader Galerie
Darmstadt, Germany 2022

Tread Lightly/Digital Forest
an immersive sound and video event translating the language of roots to light and movement. The installation for Digital Forest is presented in collaboration with Jens Meyer’s tensile structure.

Tread Lightly unfolded as the underworld spoke to us through digital probes, translating data gathered from moss, maple, and black walnut roots into music audible to the human ear. The projected imagery is an animated montage of tangled root tendrils. The poem, Language of Tendrils / Dialect of Dust written and recorded by the Suzy Sureck, weaves through Jenna DeBlasio’s sonic composition. The image’s color and movement, animated by Sophia Holland, responds to the sound.

Within the forest and embedded in its roots is a sophisticated system of communication, where plants and rhizomes alert each other of dangers or water sources for the betterment of the forest. Small fluctuations happen constantly as trees disperse nutrients throughout their roots and branches. Using digital probes, multiple readings were taken from the same source, then layered to simulate this complex network of roots, giving a sense of the inner workings and language of trees and moss. The sound was created using an Arduino measuring the conductivity data of root systems which were then translated into MIDI data via Max8 and Ableton.

Audiences were invited to experience Tread Lightly from dusk to dark above and within imagery projected onto a 4-meter parachute, during a night of shooting stars in New York in August 2022. This performance was presented as video documentation at the Shader Galerie and discussed, along with the project’s process, during the artist’s talk September 2022.

See the full spoken word text

View the animated root montage


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