Inside trees / Dentro gli alberi

How does a tree sound?


Inside trees” is a series of short videos made during the Imagonirmia Residency 2016 in Chiaravalle, Milano (Italy).

This recording was made with contact microphones, placed on the trunk of the tree. To listen through these microphones means to change our perception of space: the act of listening moves from an open environment to a space which is internal to the object. The wind is the motor which bends the trunk of the tree, but it’s not audible anymore; instead, only its effects are audible. The act of listening has become intimate, but translated on an element which is other-than-ourself.

This young black alder is found in the Vettabbia Park; the recording was made on May 3rd, 2016.


The sound of a white willow: while in the black alder the sounds were produced inside the continuously swinging trunk, here a great deal of the sounds are created from the friction between the supporting poles and the bark of the tree. Both are wooden elements, but one is alive, the other is dead; both are secured to the ground, but their function is different; both were deployed by man, but only one of them is an artifact.


Chiaravalle is constellated by banana plants. You can find them where you least expect them: interventions with the purpose of deploying a clearly extraneous element within a familiar context.

By listening with contact microphones to what happens inside the wind-swept banana plant’s dried leaves, we cross the boundaries of this extraneousness. An intimate listening, as an activity now transferred inside the leaves, almost lets us see the world from the point of view of this displaced plant; the sensation of displacement and precariousness is also enhanced by the fragile — almost glassy or papery — character of the leaves and of the sounds they produce.


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