The Cymbal tree or Sonic Mushrooms
Inspired by the shapes of the mushrooms commonly found on trees, this installation is composed of a myriad of cymbals tightly clustered around the tree trunk.
One fine day in June 1997, I came up with the idea of a park full of trees where the trees themselves were musical instruments, providing passers-by with a musical pathway.
I imagined a forest of musical trees powered, for example, by the wind, and others, perhaps, that the public could interact with to produce sounds.
The concept entails building artistic structures which are simultaneously beautiful, musical and entertaining, inspired by the silhouette of each tree, the shape and height of its branches, the associations evoked by its name, and the layout of its roots and leaves..
A pull cord connected to an audio track would be installed in the willow.
On pulling the cord, you would hear the sounds of a babbling brook, cascading laughter, whimpering, crying, melancholy songs, rain... (similar to certain cuddly toys that play music when you pull a string).
In addition, the "Whining Willow" would cry real tears thanks to a sprinkling system hidden among its foliage.
When you are under the Charming Castanet tree, you are able to play the castanets with your feet! By pressing the pedals rhythmically, you activate rods to which are attached hundreds of castanets, producing a sound effect like a host of wooden butterflies beating their wings.
Along the main branches of the Rustic Xylophone are arranged structures composed of alternate, patterned metal and wood plates of varying lengths.
Suspended at different heights on either side of these xylophones are some giant balls. The music is generated by throwing the balls at the wooden and metal slats.
Just as in a botanical garden, a label will indicate the name of the species as well as its imaginary scholarly name as a “musical tree.”
In this way, you learn that the "Maracacia" is an acacia which bears maracas, while the "Klaxon Pear" produces a new variety of horns.
Nestled inside a hollow tree is a glowing shell in which you can listen to the sounds of the sea to the rhythm of the heartbeat of the tree.
When night comes, if the park is usually illuminated, the musical trees, themselves, light up. The interplay of tiny lights and shadows, the rustling of leaves and the melodies of the evening contribute to the festive spirit of this magical walk.
Daphné, W. Jamnitzer, 16th century
The Music Trees project benefited from the support of Brussels 2000, European City of Culture. My initial proposal was very socially oriented (the participation of retirement homes, schools, associations, and the involvement of other artists), but it could not be realized due to administrative issues associated with Brussels 2000, which subsequently had to cancel many projects.
To date, only The Bell Tree has seen the light of day during the "Arbres et Lumière" festival in Geneva.
For a long time, I was faced with the problem that my multi-disciplinary projects did not fit neatly into the “boxes” of organisations or potential sponsors. I have been thrilled to see more openness and a growing interest in projects with a link to nature. Which is why I am taking this project out of the bottom drawer and dusting it off - telling myself that the time is right. The ideas are there and there are many others in the drawers, not to mention those I can conjure up on the spot. I know exactly which craftspeople to call upon for the implementation; the only thing that is missing is a sponsor.