Tree Radio modifies trees to become radio transmitters of micro FM radio and broadcast the sound of their own bio acoustic ‘voices’. I aim to make people think about trees and the root of all wireless technology: radio, and how simple and green it can be to use. Wireless free and solar powered. The work addresses issues surrounding the rate that new digital technology often become outmoded as it uses 100 year old tried and tested wireless technology. I have been working at the intersection between art and technology and this project idea takes forward my current work. I am specifically interested in translating the responses of the trees to their environment into audible sounds, using trees as FM radio receivers, transmitters and antenna, as a living radio installation. Trees produce faint electrical field which fluctuates in consonance with the state of the organism. By plugging the trees into a bio activity translator we can translate their biological processes and reactions to the events surrounding them as sound and broadcast them from the trees. Visitors will be able to pick up the work on their own personal FM radios, on phones as well as hearing the tree broadcast gently emitting from the trees through solar radios. The earliest documented forms of tree radio or “Tree Receivers” as they were called in Scientific American Journal in 1919 describes how trees can act “as nature’s own wireless towers and antenna combined.” General George Owen Squire, the U.S. Army’s Chief Signal Officer, described how “[all] trees, of all kinds and all heights, growing anywhere—are nature’s own wireless towers and antenna combined.” He called this “talking through the trees.” Trees remain the perfect aerial for radio. The project aims to make people discover the simplicity of setting up a tree radio station without destroying or harming the trees in any way and the simple electronics involved to achieve this. New digital wireless communication today is often disguised as trees in the US, and its is a playful way of getting people to think about trees as transmitters and the potential and issues surrounding that. The project was selected as the first Arts for the Environment residency at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park by The University of the Arts London during summer 2015.
“Someday artists will work with capacitors, resistors and semi-conductors as they work today with brushes, violins and junk.” Nam June Paik 1965
Read all about the Tree Radio installation at YSP here: