When we think about the reason behind recycling, the first thing that will probably pop into our minds is the everyday tree. (Put very basically, we need to recycle so that we use less trees.) This makes sense, because when it comes to both raw and manufactured materials, the process behind metals and plastics can seem a bit complicated, whereas wood and paper come from a very straightforward and familiar source. Be it a British woodland or a huge chunk of the Amazon rainforest, paper is made from trees and we need trees to breathe, end of.

If we were to go a little more in-depth, we may start discussing ways that we can combat the damage to the planet. This may include how paper usage can be decreased and deforestation prevented, covering everything from not printing emails and always recycling at home and in the office, to reading newspapers online and buying a Kindle instead of paperbacks. However, it’s very rare that you’ll talk about how a natural habitat can be used to make something without so much as damaging a single lead. We’re not talking about hanging ribbons from branches or adding something physical to the surroundings, we’re talking about using the surroundings themselves as a creative machine.

Living Symphonies is a musical composition that grows in the same way as a forest ecosystem. Portraying the thriving activity of the forest’s wildlife, plants and atmospheric conditions, it creates an ever-changing symphony heard amongst the forest itself. In other words, from the movement of leaves in a light breeze to the path that a woodlouse traces across a piece of dead bark, these patterns are then fed into a simulator that turns them into a very listenable symphony. This is played right there in the forest itself through a network of speakers, allowing the audience to appreciate both visible and unseen motions around them even if they were to close their eyes. The piece responds to the weather, time of day, even that fly that just landed on your arm. Whilst there, you’ll most likely hear the auditory representation of dozens of species eating, working, mating, or even entering the world whilst others take their last breath; it really is rather clever.

James Bulley and Daniel Jones are the harmonious brainiacs behind it and a trip to their website is highly recommended. Click below to watch the video on YouTube, it’s both fascinating and beautiful.

Living Symphonies

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