Rehearsal for a Forest

by Branching Songs Ensemble

April 29, 2023 | 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Registration: LINK

We are delighted to announce the thirteenth in an ongoing series of experimental, performative exhibition responses that take place in the gallery. Every season, selected artists, musicians, dancers, poets or writers are invited to respond to our exhibitions in creative ways.

“The breath of plants gives life to animals and the breath of animals gives life to plants.
My breath is your breath, your breath is mine. It’s the great poem of give and take, of reciprocity that animates the world.”
—Robin Wall Kimmerer, from Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

"Our world is a complex matrix of vibrating energy, matter and air, just as we are made of vibrations.
Vibration connects us with all beings and connects us to all things interdependently.”
—Pauline Oliveros, from Quantum Listening

Rehearsal for a Forest explores the relationship between abiotic and biotic entities by inviting audiences to consider our relations with water, waves, trees, the land. The earliest life was sparked from oceans and light energizing emergent self-organizing forms. This ancient photosynthesis knowledge was handed down to our local plant life, trees and forests who provide the air we breathe and the climate we depend on. For Rehearsal for a Forest, the Ensemble uses instruments created from remnants and cast-offs of local trees and plants, combined with electroacoustic techniques, and improvisational approaches, to ask that we listen to trees for the sake of the forests.

Rehearsal for a Forest is a precursor to an upcoming performance with living ancient trees in a forest located near Tuwanek on the Sunshine Coast. The forest is home to old growth cedar and fir, and wildlife, has a natural spring and is part of the Gray Creek watershed. The forest, listed as “AG014” in the Angus Cutblock, is scheduled to be clear cut. Branching Songs is advocating for the preservation of this forest by holding an interventionist performance in May 2023 supported by the Sunshine Coast Arts Council, Vancouver New Music, and Elphinstone Logging Focus.

Rehearsal for a Forest grows out of the larger Branching Songs project, a collection of sound art and land-based projects in collaboration with trees and forests around Vancouver and coastal regions ( Branching Songs aims to engage and mobilize people in the movement to protect and care for local trees and forests, including the trees being cleared for the Transmountain Pipeline Expansion project, and the ancient forests being clear cut on the Sunshine Coast. The project has generated new methods and techniques for working creatively with forests, engaging communities in knowledge sharing and applied workshops.

Branching Songs Ensemble:

• Julie Andreyev, Tree-a-kin and Lightning Stick instruments
• Simon Lysander Overstall, Tree-a-kin instrument, software programming
• Keira Madsen, Tree Voice instrument
• Myles V Felenberger, Looper instrument

The tree feelers were made by Lara Felsing

Branching Songs is supported by:

• The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
• The Basically Good Media Lab
• Emily Carr University
• The Sunshine Coast Arts Council
• Vancouver New Music

Artist Biographies

Julie Andreyev
I am an artist-activist, researcher and educator in Vancouver, located on the unceded, traditional and ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, as well as the unceded traditional territories of nonhuman animals and plant life including bears, deer, raccoons, eagles, ravens, crows, hummingbirds, cedar, fir, salal and others. My multispecies studio called Animal Lover explores more-than-human creativity to develop kinships with local lifeforms and ecologies. I am currently working on creative co-productions with birds (Bird Park Survival Station), and sound art experiences within old-growth forest ecologies (Branching Songs). I have a PhD from Simon Fraser University, and I am Associate Professor in the Audain Faculty of Art, Emily Carr University of Art + Design where I teach New Media + Sound Arts, and Critical Studies. My work is supported by The Canada Council for the Arts, The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I love hiking with my canine companions Zorra and Heroe, paying attention to the liveliness of the animals, trees and plants, and Earth forces. My new book is Lessons from a Multispecies Art Studio: Uncovering Ecological Understanding & Biophilia Through Creative Reciprocity. Intellect Books, 2021.
Simon Lysander Overstall
Simon Lysander Overstall is a media artist and composer from Vancouver, Canada. He is currently a doctoral student at the School for Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. He develops works with generative, interaction, or performance elements. He is particularly interested in computational creativity in music, biologically and ecologically inspired art and music systems, and art and performance in immersive environments. He has created and collaborated on custom performance systems and interactive art installations that have been shown in Canada, the US, Europe, and China. He has also supported installation, theatre, and dance productions as a technologist, programmer, and sound, interaction, and visual designer. He has an MA in Sound in New Media from Aalto University in Helsinki, a BFA in Music from the School for Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University, and an Associate in Music (Jazz) Diploma from Vancouver Island University.
Keira Madsen
I am an electronic musician, performer, and producer currently based in so-called Vancouver (stolen land of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tseil-Waututh people). My music can be described as beat-based electronic ambient music with vocal textures. As a student in the New Media + Sound Arts program at Emily Carr University, I take an experimental approach to music-making that explores sound as an emotional language through computer-human collaboration. I am also a founding member of the venue and community hub 648kingsway. My practice also includes composing for visual media, creating sound installations, and building body-centric MIDI controllers using code and microelectronics. In all areas of my practice, I am driven by a curiosity for how music and sound can be a vehicle for emotional communication, and how computers are a collaborator in both the creation and performance of electronic music.
Myles Feltenberger
Thomas Myles Feltenberger is a Vancouver-based sound artist and producer hailing from Chicago. Working under the pseudonym "Veltenhill," they move fluidly between genres to challenge the pop music aesthetic, incorporating elements of hip-hip, electronic, and contemporary rock to create new soundscapes. Known by their listeners and collaborators for their live sound sets and detailed production, Veltenhill creates music primarily consisting of heady subject matter, autotuned vocals, and heavy percussion.
Lara Felsing
My practice takes place on the unceded land of Treaty 6 territory, a traditional gathering place for diverse Indigenous peoples, including the Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway/ Saulteaux/Anishinaabe and Inuit. This land is rich in history and holds a promise to live side by side in peace and friendship “for as long as the sun shines, grass grows and river flows,” as written in Treaty 6, signed in Fort Pitt in 1876. I create paintings and mixed media work exploring the connections between plants, animals and humans within a shared landscape. My material practice and research use a ‘two-eyed seeing’ approach: having one eye look through a lens of Indigenous Knowledge from my Métis heritage while the other looks through a Western lens. I am an MFA candidate at Emily Carr University.