In the project “See Aural Woods”, part of the BWF’s science aesthetics program “Unseen Science”, the visual artists Astrid Steiner and Florian Tanzer / Luma.Launisch and the musician and author Juergen Berlakovich / Takamovsky take an interest in these data in connection with the audiovisual aspects of the woods.

exportTakamovsky’s work has to do with transformation processes. At what point does language become sound? What forms are implemented in the semantics of sound? How does the acoustic world surrounding us enter literary and musical narratives? In Takamovsky’s project, the forest becomes a superdimensioned musical instrument. He makes field recordings, sampling the sounds of the woods, transposes forest genetics data into a sonor form and then transforms this raw material into an audiovisual narrative together with Luma.Launisch, allowing us to experience as many aspects of forest life as possible using the canals of all the senses and perception.

Mosses set the rhythm. There now exists a special new “forest genetics translator-sonificator”. This software patch transforms and sonifies base triplets, turning them into tones and rhythms by addressing synthesizers. We are on a nano level here. Base triplets are the smallest entity of the genetic code. In this manner, DNA sequences of fir, Swiss pine, common hornbeam, ash, moss, fern, ghost pine, ant, etc. were sonified and used as starting points for the compositions.


The reverberation of the woods as acoustic spaces were also used as objects of aesthetic regard. The compositions were embedded in these reverb qualities, which were virtually reconstructed in the computer using a special envelope reverb software. Small, structured sounds like the rustling of dead leaves, the snapping of wood, ants crawling, bark beetles gnawing and birdsong were collected in an extensive sample library, which is at hand when Takamovsky generates and mixes the different rhythms and acoustic textures for the forest pieces.

Luma.Launisch’s visual point of attack triggers associations by combining mimetic and abstract images in layers. The imagery of analogy and symbolicism teases the fantasy of the viewer. The narration tells a story that happens a bit differently in each mind, as it creates images without becoming overly concrete. The gaze falls on the many aspects of the woods in the course of a year. With their multifaceted, devious visual strategies, the artist duo Luma.Launisch, active since 2003, adress the human senses. What images activate the sense of smell? How can the taste of berries be translated into visual phenomena? What do animal sounds look like? Where can one see light reflections in detail that are usually part of the entire colossal backdrop of the forest?

Marianne Schreck

Translation: Ann Cotten