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A Living Memorial to Tasmanian Ecology

Waterside Pavilion Hobart Tasmania 17-27 June 2021


11am -5pm, 17-27 June: Huon Pines, electronic biodata sonification arranged by Sam Nester (New York)


5pm Friday, 18 June; 5pm Saturday 19 June: Julius Schwing, guitar (Tasmania) accompanied by Huon Pines, electronic metadata arranged by Sam Nester (New York)

5pm Monday, 21 June, Saturday, 26 June: Fergus Oates, guitar (Tasmania) improv with Huon Pines, electronic biodata sonification arranged by Sam Nester (New York)

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 17-27 June 2021 with live music performances, and ongoing music generated and streamed electronically by Huon Pines in situ, open daily. All events are free. 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, with construction by Xanderware. Caroline is assisted by glass technician Merinda Young, Tudor Rose Glass. Sam is assisted by Mathew Fagan, Social Justice Communications, with sound technology and performance management. Fergus Oates, talented emerging musician, helps facilitate daily sessions. 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 made of laminated glass with a photo interlayer. This is a living memorial to the resilience of plants and a celebration of Tasmanian ecology.


Glass House Arcadia, design and artwork by Caroline Rannersberger

13 panels laminated glass with digital film interlayer of artwork based on original paintings

Huon Pines (20 years old)

Arcadia sound installation by Sam Nester created and recorded at Mavista on Bruny Island 2019 (recreated for Glass House Arcadia with Huon Pines). This project was created as part of Sam Nester's residency on Bruny Island, courtesy Bruny Island Foundation for the Arts.

All images courtesy Caroline Rannersberger

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It is important to consider challenges impacting the Tasmanian environment, particularly 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 represents 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 approximately a 4x3m structure with a 3.5m high roof pitch, illuminated with LED lights. Constructed in a steel frame, it holds 13 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. 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. Plants and further advice are obtained from Plants of Tasmania Nursery. 'Glass House Arcadia' celebrates important ecologies of  endemic Tasmanian species, focussing in the main on the iconic huon pine. In this Hobart based installation, two twenty year old huon pines generate sound as they continue to grow and respond to their temporary environment in the Waterside Pavilion. Lagarostrobos franklinii (Huon Pine) is a rainforest tree that grows in western and southern Tasmania. It is very fire sensitive and only grows in fire-free areas. It is slow growing and may live for over 2000 years. It mostly grows at low-moderate altitudes, but occasionally extends into the alpine zone. It is most commonly seen along rivers (Plants of Tasmania Nursery). 

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