Louvre Abu Dhabi installation makes "palm trees sing together"

Published: 25 February 2020 - 11:18 a.m.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi and France’s Théâtre du Châtelet will launch the world premiere of Singing Trees – an interactive installation that activates the outdoor landscape surrounding the Louvre Abu Dhabi – created by UK digital artists Umbrellium in collaboration with Paris’ Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM) and independent producer, Katherine Jewkes.

Aimed at raising awareness for the environment, non-invasive electronic belts have been attached to the palm trees around The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s entrance, which will “give the trees a voice”, enabling them to “sing together as choir”.

As visitors move closer to the trees, the “song of the choir” grows louder and more synchronised, with the maximum volume reached when visitors hug the trees.

The installation, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will be on view at the Louvre Abu Dhabi between 25 February and 7 March, and is free to experience.

Following its Abu Dhabi premiere, the installation will be presented in cities around the world including in the garden of Paris’ Palais Royal on 10-20 September, 2020, and in London, New York, and Paris, before being showcased in the Olympics in 2024.

The trees will sing a combination of songs in English, Arabic, and French. In each country that exhibits the installation, new songs will be commissioned for the trees to sing.

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The installation will be on view at the Louvre Abu Dhabi between 25 February and 7 March

The featured musical pieces for Singing Trees at Louvre Abu Dhabi include Ayyala, a traditional Arabic song that reflects the artistic heritage of the UAE; Greensleeves, a traditional English folk song from the late 16th century; and the French medieval choir song L’Amour de Moy.

Commenting on the activation of the outdoor landscape, the artistic director of Théâtre du Châtelet, Ruth Mackenzie, said: “With climate change now a part of our everyday lives, this installation physically manifests, with pioneering technology, the urgent need to listen to what nature is telling us and respond with care. Umbrellium have used non-invasive digital technology to give trees a voice and invite the public to listen and interact with them.”

The director of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manuel Rabate, added: “Coinciding with UAE Innovation Month, this piece explores how technological advances can bring us closer to nature and heighten our understanding of the environment. We are grateful to our partners Théâtre du Châtelet and Bloomberg Philanthropies who made this project possible and we look forward to seeing Singing Trees travel the world.”

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