Chris Watson’s Whispering in the Leaves is an extraordinary sound installation, using recordings and natural history broadcast to transport us to the far-flung, dense rainforests of South and Central America. Throughout the summer festival, Kew Garden’s Palm House will be diffused with the dawn and dusk choruses of the myriad of creatures native to these lush tropical landscapes. A highly sensory experience, Whispering in the Leaves is a remarkable demonstration of the power of sound to evoke inaccessible and captivating locations.
Whispering in the Leaves is a powerful sound work derived from Watson’s extensive archive of wildlife and on location recordings in Central and South America – habitats that host over half of the planet’s wildlife. Diffused through the tropical foliage of Kew Gardens’ iconic building the Palm House, the surround soundtrack of wildlife dawn and dusk choruses will be transmitted at hourly intervals throughout the day for 15-20 minute durations – the approximate time taken in the rainforest for the transitions from darkness into light, and from daylight to dark. The sound pieces feature the calls and voices of thousands of species, including the howls and shrieks of black howler and spider monkeys, the musicality of diverse birdsong and the shimmering and hissing of tree frogs and cicadas.
A highly sensory and captivating experience, Whispering in the Leaves is a remarkable demonstration of the power of sound recordings and natural history broadcast to transport us to far flung, inaccessible and often extraordinary locations.
Chris Watson will perform a live sound mix in which audio recording of a three or four-hour period across late afternoon, sunset and into the night will be compressed into around twenty minutes. Featuring recordings of a tropical thunderstorm and ending with the deep, lush sounds of the nocturnal insect chorus, the performance will create an intense auditory narrative for the audience.
Whispering in the Leaves is co-produced by Sound and Music & Forma. Originally commissioned by AV Festival 08.