🌳 Ways of Listening to Forests

How can we sense and make sense of forests with devices, techniques and our bodies? How might we cultivate an interdisciplinary “arts of noticing” (Tsing) for attending to forests and their role in critical zones?

Engaging with themes in the Critical Zones exhibition and catalogue curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, this project explores different ways of listening to forests, drawing on different traditions, techniques, methods, media and approaches – from “Shinrin Yoku” (forest bathing) to sensing devices, data sonification to sound walks and storytelling.

The project includes a public workshop with ZKM as part of the Critical Zones exhibition to explore and compare different approaches and the possibilities and limits of forest experiences under current sensing conditions between immediacy and mediation.

For more on the use of digital data and devices to cultivate sensibilities towards trees and forests, see the Critical Zones field book and catalogue, including this chapter on “The Datafication of Forests”.

Sound Sketch - Forest Rain - Liz K. Miller

🎧 Four Modes of Forest Listening

⚠️ The following audio sequences are part of a prototype for testing and feedback that will be further refined, developed and produced after the workshop with ZKM.

We have curated a series of audio sequences exploring four different modes:

Each sequence contains a brief introduction followed by several exercises, practices or projects for you to explore.

These are intended to be listened to in a forest, park or garden, and can be done individually or in a group. Our aim was to produce an audio piece which could be either undertaken in one listening session (of around 90-120 minutes) or in a series of separate listening sessions.

These four sequences are intended as an entry-point to begin exploring forest listening. They are intended to be illustrative, not comprehensive. We're keen to include other kinds of projects and practices in future phases of the project beyond these approaches (and if you have suggestions they'd be very welcome).

📦 What are the four sequences?

❓ How can I provide thoughts, feedback or suggestions?

We're very interested in hearing about your experiences of forest listening, these sequences and how we might further develop and improve the project.

On thinking along with these modes of forest listening you may consider:

On the project, we’re interested in feedback on things like:

You can share your thoughts with this form or send us an email (and suggest new projects to add here).

📲 How can I get them onto my device?

For outdoor listening excursions you may wish to load the audio sequences onto your phone or other device (e.g. MP3 player).

🗂 Forest Listening Index

Further projects, practices, readings and resources on forest listening. If you have a suggestion for a project to add, you can fill in this form.

🏊🏼‍♀️ Forest Bathing

🎙 Field Recording

🔊 Sonification

📖 Storytelling

🌱 Credits

This project was initiated by Jonathan Gray and Birgit Schneider with the Public Data Lab to coincide with a workshop at the Critical Zones exhibition at ZKM, Karlsruhe. The audio sequences are narrated by Renee-Marie Pizzardi and produced by Andrés Saenz de Sicilia. The forest listening sequences and the index were developed with input and contributions from Anagram, Andrés Saenz de Sicilia, Brian Harnetty, Brian House, Carlo De Gaetano, Ginevra Terenghi, Kate Donovan, Lauren Oakes, Liliana Bounegru, Liz K. Miller, Marcus Maeder, Martin Howse, Maya Livio, Natalia Sánchez-Querubín, Nik Sawe, Rina Tsubaki, Sabine Niederer, Sara Lenzi and the Visual Methodologies Collective. The sonification examples in the index draw on Sara Lenzi's research for the Data Sonification Archive.