Geolocational sound walk with temporary sculptures in public spaces

Sound walk composition and installations: Ida Hiršenfelder (beepblip)

Introduction: Under Chestnut Trees, video essay, 15 minutes
Geolocational application: Echos, & short-wave FM radio
Languages: Slovenian, English
Accessibility: The route is accessible by wheelchair.
Location: starting point Cerkno Museum, endpoint in deep forest
Guided walks: 16 and 17 May 2024, at 14:00.
Installation opening hours: 10:00 to 18:00
Opening hours sound walk: 24/7
Commissioned by Jazz Cerkno (curated by Simon Kenda)
Co-produced by Cerkno Museum

Under Chestnut Trees is a geolocation sound walk featuring temporary sculptures in public spaces. It revolves around short sound stories that blend elements of reality, mysticism, and speculative fiction. The sound walk guides the listeners from one sculpture to another, immersing them in an imaginary posthumanist future where humans coexist strangely with other entities.

The sound walk encourages empathy for the sentient beings among us and underscores the ability of all beings, including the unheard, to communicate. 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 theory of the critical flicker frequency. This theory determines the 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, you would need to listen at a rate 2.25 times slower than its actual singing speed. The artist incorporates scientific translations of auditory spectra into compositional structures that induce psychoacoustic effects on emotional responses. Additionally, she includes narrative introductions to the compositions, working associatively to encourage critical thinking about interspecies communication. The sound walk aims to foster empathy with the worlds and senses of other beings.

At the dawn of discoveries in the field of non-human languages, with the geometric mapping of machine-learned artificial intelligence, Under Chestnut 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 but 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 in the context of Cerkno. The sculptures pay homage to early ecologists of land art, such as the OHO Group, Marika and Marko Pogačnik, Marjetica Potrč, Andy Goldsworthy, Agnes Denes, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and Ana Mendieta, who sought to naturalise culture.

A local map in the Echos app reveals listening locations for the audience. They are invited to walk towards the centre of the circle where they will find sculptures from non-invasive biodegradable materials and compositions from field recording and electronic manipulations.

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

Header image created by AI, Nov. 2023.