When talking about life, many people will agree that nature is the greatest artist of all with all the lifeforms, shapes, sounds and scents it created. However, when nature’s beauty meets the genius and imagination of the human kind with the beautiful and well thought through interventions that respect its surroundings and add to it, the results can really be really fascinating. One such place you can find is in Neerpelt in Belgium – the Klankenbos Sound Forest.
Tucked away in a beautiful forest, almost twenty sound installations are distributed among the trees, creating a wonderful open-air museum with artworks that are both pleasing to the eye and also interesting aurally, challenging the visitor to investigate and further explore booth sound and silence and their place within nature and the forest.
The unique sonic experience is guaranteed and people are invited to either explore themselves through and app and audioguide, or by a live tour with a guide which can also be booked. The whole experience lasts about two hours with a lot of active exploring and many of the installations being interactive, providing the visitors with a true artistic treat. If interested deeper in the subject, Klankenbos also often has artists in residence and holds workshops and events, enriching the magical Sound Forest even more with a genuine synergy of nature and art.
The installations that await you are from renowned artists such as Erwin Stache, Hans Van Koolwijk and Pierre Berthetand, here are just a few to give you a taste of what awaits you.
1. Noah’s Ear
At the river bank, pianist and visual artist Robert Lambermont created Noah’s Ear to emphasize the sounds of the Dommel in Pelt. The numerous sounds of the water splashing, pebbles rolling and other events create a symphony which the installation explores.
The wooden floating barge is connected to a bent arm which ends in a trumpet form with the needle following and recording the stream, giving the aural identity of the area.
Red chests look like some extraordinary plants of the area conmunicating among themselves, exchanging sounds and signs which vary in timbre and pitch depending on the visitor’s distance. A true sonic conversation as imagined by Erwin Stache. A group of seven and a row of five red chests pop up like plants in nature. They chat and interchange signs or sounds.
Inspired by John Cage’s work 4’33’’, the work ‘Tacet’ (Latin for ‘It is silent’) thematises the silence and absence of sound. The installation, a glass cube that suppresses sound, created by Hekkernberg architects & Paul Beuk, is only accessible through a small subway, affecting the sound impression of the forest while the visual impression remains the same.
4. Chaise Résonnante (Resonant chair)
Inviting the visitors to sit down and take a break, Tony di Napoli’s Chaise Résonnante is an instrument that is both acoustic and physical in the treatment of sound. Made of six limestone bars, the chair is anchored in a case of lithopone buried under the ground. The limestone bars are tuned to different pitches and, when a visitor approaches a chair, a mechanism is triggered that starts the vibration of the bars, thus not only producing the sound, drawing it up from the ground but also producing vibrations of the chair itself. In this way, the sound is not only heard but also felt by the visitor.
5. Composed nature
Created by Staalplaat Soundsystem & Lola Landscape architects, the sound installation ‘Composed nature’ gives the visitors an extraordinary experience. The 24 birches are equipped with vibrating motors that make the leaves shuffle and can be activated from a distance, creating the orchestrated sound immersion in nature.
6. Scaffolded Sound Beehive
The latest addition to Klankenbos is the installation by AnneMarie Maes whose works are between art and science. The installation consists of a 2.5 m high Warreé beehive inhabited by a 15 minute long 2-channel sound piece based on the field recordings made in a beehive of Brussels Urban Bee Lab. The piece depicts the swarming of the bees over the course of the day and to experience it – you need to stick your head in the beehive. Luckily it is safe to do so in this one!