In Neerpelt, a small town in the very north of Belgium on the border with the Netherlands, there’s the very unique Klankenbos (or Sound Forest). A public forest filled with sound art installations hidden between the trees, accessible to anyone for free any moment of the day. Something so unique, it’s strange we’ve never written an article about it here on Everyday Listening. Time to make up for that.
Made back in 2005 as a temporary sound art collection commissioned by Musica, the Belgian “impulse centre for music”, Klankenbos has since then become permanent and has been there for ten years already.
Pierre Berthet’s Houses of Sound: Two wires connect two huts on the banks of the Dommel. These are connected to exciters and tin can resonators in a network of wires among the trees around the installation. Inputs (mainly sine waves) transmitted through the exciters make the wires tremble, causing vibrations that create a buzzing resonance in the huts and cans.
With a few additions to the collection over the years, as well as the development of mobile installations, the Klankenbos is everything but a static collection. Just this year sound artist Laura Maes added an interactive sound-bench running on solar energy.
Staalplaat Soundsystem & LOLA landscape architect’s Composed Nature: Composed storms in the trees by washing machine motors, making the trees and it’s leaves shake.
Klankenbos does not only exist of installations in the physical realm: just recently artist Rozalie Hirs created Curvices, a musical grid that works with GPS tracking and can only be heard via a smartphone. Because the organization of Klankenbos is very aware that the forest is very important as well: it shouldn’t end up being a place of technology under some trees, and these technologies allow artists to put their own virtual sonic world over the actual one.
Erwin Stache’s Konversation: 12 mechanical plants conversating through signs and sounds.
On sunday the 18th of October Musica invites everyone to celebrate 10 years of Klankenbos with an afternoon with sound art, music, poetry and silence in the Klankenbos. Artists who will be present are Stijn Demeulenaere who will present his field-recordings of the past few years in a way fitting to the Klankenbos, Hans van Koolwijk in a performance with amateur musicians playing 65 helium-filled balloons, the robot orchestra of the Flemish organisation Logos who designed instruments for Aphex Twin, et cetera. They’ll be there presenting new work by young composers. Enough to see and hear!