Geolocational sound walk

Under Beech Trees is a geolocation sound walk. It revolves around short sound stories that blend elements of reality, mysticism, and speculative fiction. The sound walk guides the listeners from one location to another, immersing them in an imaginary future where humans coexist strangely with other entities. It encourages empathy for the sentient beings and invites the walkers to listen to all beings, including those nonvocal or inorganic. It offers an experimental journey, immersing participants in a sonic world distinct from the human experience.

Exploring sound through field recording, the composer captured vocalisations of various creatures, including insects, bacteria, bats, frogs, birds, and lizards. Drawing from these sounds, she translated them into the human audible spectrum based on the critical flicker frequency, or resolution, at which individual creatures perceive the world. For instance, humans perceive the world with a 60Hz pulse rate, meaning that to hear a bird as it perceives itself, a human would need to listen at a rate 2.25 times slower than its actual singing speed. Such translations of auditory spectra produce psychoacoustic effects and may induce emotional responses.

At the dawn of discoveries of meaning in non-human languages, with the geometric mapping of machine-learned artificial intelligence, Under Beech Trees invites a perspective that transcends mere technicism, emphasising the culturalisation of technology. Technology, in this context, serves as a facilitator for connecting with diverse cultures, and in parallel, the listener’s level of sensitivity determines whether this contact takes on a mystical, everyday, zoomusicological, hierarchical, or aesthetic quality.

The piece is oriented towards a speculative future, drawing inspiration from ancient methods of communication with the earth and non-human animals vividly described by Pavel Medvešček, PhD, in his book From the Invisible Side of the Sky, particularly around Cerkno and the forests above.

Instructions for individual walking
For the sound walk, you need a phone connected to a set of headphones. Walk slowly so you can listen more attentively. The map indicates the locations of each chapter. At a slow pace, you should reach the bench and the ‘Pulsation’ pin at the 20th minute. From the bench, continue walking at the 22nd minute of the recording. The ‘Denunciation’ pin is located at the 36th minute, just before the first set of houses when you step outside the forest near a small gorge and a stream. On your left, you will see an exposed cliff. I recommend listening to the first three stanzas of a poem while observing the rock.

Sound walk composition and installations: Ida Hiršenfelder (beepblip)
Introduction: Translating Critters / Under Beech Trees, quadrophonic double video installation, 8 minutes
Start point: Cerkno Museum
Route: 2.4 kilometers / 2 miles. The route partly follows a forest path, partly a gravel road, and partly a paved traffic road.
Average walking time: 30 minutes with an elevation gain of 100 meters.
Slowed-down walking time for the sound walk: 45–50 minutes.
Languages: Slovenian, English
Guided walks: 17 May 2024, at 14:00 & 18 May 2024, at 16:00. Scan the QR code for individual sound walks.
Installation opening hours: 16–18 May 2024,10:00 to 18:00. An insert of the video is published on Vimeo.
Opening hours sound walk: 24/7, until further notice. Link to the recording for the individual sound walk or scan the QR code.
Commissioned by Jazz Cerkno (curated by Simon Kenda)
Dramaturgy: Tea Hvala
Co-produced by Cerkno Museum
Special thanks: Cona Institute (Brane Zorman), Projekt Atol Institute, Zavod ŠŠŠŠŠŠ

Under Beech Trees is a part of the Translating Critters series, wherein the artist delves into establishing empathetic connections with non-human animals and inorganic geophonic beings.