The Tree of Life project (produced by the Space Song Foundation) sonifies 200-year data sets collected from live trees to create songs about the trees’ experience here on Earth. In this visualization/sonification, you can see the moments when our sensors detected fluctuations in the tree’s soil moisture (blue), temperature, (red), and light (yellow) during a 10-month prototype in Julia Christensen’s gallery exhibition, Upgrade Available, at ArtCenter (Pasadena, CA). Each fluctuation that you see here can also be heard by a microtonal shift in the square wave drone produced by our software. Speed of the song/visualization and parameters about the tone can be set by the user in a forthcoming interface. (Special thanks to the Space Song Foundation’s audio consultant, Tom Hall, and Cycling ’74/ Max MSP!)

Eventually, this tree song will be sent via radio wave to a spacecraft in which design mirrors the longevity and sustainability of our terrestrial trees. The trees will be harnessed to operate as large, living antenna systems, so the spacecraft can send a song back to Earth about its own operational conditions in LEO.

The “duet” tells a long-term story about conditions of life here on Earth and of our technology in space. The Tree of Life provides research and imagination about sustainability and the future at the intersection of art, science, and design.

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