A Living Memorial to Tasmanian Ecology

Waterside Pavilion Hobart Tasmania 17-28 June 2021

Glass House Arcadia is a visual art/ music collaboration between Tasmanian artist Caroline Rannersberger, and New York based Australian musician Sam Nester, in the Waterside Pavilion, Hobart from 16-29 June 2021 with weekly music performances and daily audience participation. Endemic plants housed in a bright green art glass house generate music in real time with their own bio data sonification that makes music. Sam and Caroline are joined by Christopher Clinton as the collaborating architect. This project is generously supported by Australia Council of the Arts and the City of Hobart.

The project, developed and managed by Caroline Rannersberger with the help of a team of creatives, comprises an installation of plants endemic to Tasmania that generate 'music' in real time with specialised sound technology, housed inside an illuminated glass house (4x3x3m) made of laminated glass with a photo interlayer. This is a living memorial to the resilience of plants and a call for climate change action.


It is important to consider the effects of climate change, particularly on endemic plant life, and how this can be brought to light through an interactive public art installation based on a glass house with plants that generate music and create a soundscape. Glass House Arcadia is a site of conservation, of raising and nurturing plants. It invites the audience to consider the significance of a finely 'tuned' eco system and its balance between human interaction and nature. The images in the glass broadly references those plant forms in abstract compositions. The soundscape gives voice to the plants; a kind of ecological anthropomorphism. The music is created by the plants and the environment. Changes within the plants affect the pitch, the rhythm. Various environmental conditions impact on the sound which changes whether the plants are healthy or whether they are sick. The audience has the opportunity to experience and interact with the real time growth transformed into sound, as if the plants are speaking and expressing their level of well being. 


The Glass house concept, project management and the laminated glass artwork is by Caroline Rannersberger: The glass house is a 4x3m structure with a 3m high roof pitch, illuminated with LED lights. Constructed using a steel scaffolding frame, it holds 11 individual glass panels (1x2m), each with a photo interlayer based on abstract images of plant life. Caroline is assisted by Tasmanian glass technician Merinda Young, Tudor Rose Glass Works. The architectural work and detailing for the glass house structure is by Tasmanian architect Christopher Clinton.



The interactive sound installation using plant bio data is by Sam Nester. There will be live on site performances with local musicians. It will also be streamed live via a direct link with Sam Nester from New York, who will facilitate the sound and interactive performances over a continuous period during the event. A key element is 'Arcadia', Sam's interactive sound installation concept that uses the natural biorhythms of plants to create music. It works by converting the fluctuations in galvanic conductance of plants to MIDI data to control MIDI instruments in realtime. In addition, contact microphones are connected to various parts of the installed environment and convert incoming audio signals to MIDI messages, allowing participants coming through the installation to interact with the plants, turning the environment into one big musical instrument. Each device is programmable to 16 separate MIDI channels, meaning that 16 different plants can be making music at any one time per program. Each plant makes music with the least amount of human interaction.



Botanical expertise is provided by multi disciplinary scientist/ecologist Daniel Sprod. 'Glass House Arcadia' celebrates important ecologies of  endemic Tasmanian species, including the nothofagus, huon pine and some species of pandani. Referring to the pandani forests in nearby Mt Field National Park, according to Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, 'The remarkable pandani is just one of many subalpine plants that are found in Tasmania and nowhere else on Earth.”


Glass House Arcadia structure, designed by Caroline Rannersberger

Sensation of Beginning, Glass design for Glass House panels

Tiny Glass House models

All images courtesy Caroline Rannersberger

Glass House Arcadia Model
(4m x3m, 3m high)
11 laminated glass panels with photo interlayer (2x1m each)
Glass design for Glass House Arcadia
Commissioned by Arts Tasmania for Kingston Community Health Centre 2018/9
laminated glass with photo interlayer
50cm x 300cm
Glass House Prototype 2019
laminated glass with photo interlayer in aluminium frame on lightbox
42cmx22cm 30cm high
Glass House Prototype 2019
laminated glass with photo interlayer in aluminium frame on lightbox
42cmx22cm 30cm high
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© 2016 Caroline Rannersberger

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