Arboreal Opera

Not really a beginning but ‘in medias res’

Arboreal Opera started in the middle of the pandemic. When the typical and the expected was interrupted, and for the first time in a while, we could glimpse under the veil of the well-oiled, productivity-oriented capitalist society and discover the other, less perfect, but none the less equally real sides of existence.

Left alone with our daily grind and our machines, many of us started asking questions “Is this really all there is for us?”. With social functions on pause, we suddenly had free time to dream, reflect and future-gaze. 

We started paying more attention to our environments and ‘our people’. And this largely reflected on the quality and quantity of attention we gave to things that we considered important.

During the pandemic, activism rose to unexpected levels. In the flickering haze of progress-obsessed fever dream, we spoke our minds on what we found essential: connectedness with each other, space, rest, quiet, connectedness with nature. And numbers showed where our priorities lie: we started leaving urban centers, shoebox apartments, and depressing concrete jungles in favor of greener, bigger spaces. The kind of spaces that soothe, comfort, strengthen us, and remind us who we are and what we want for ourselves. 

Finally… we had the time. Slashing degrading commute hours from our schedules gave us time to think and wonder. Some of us learned new skills. I started a new degree in Science and Technology. The classes were held online, which I loved – otherwise it would be much harder for me to focus on studying and learning. 

It is at York University, while taking a course on biotechnologies, subjectivity and sustainability, I learned about the bio-ethnographic work of Anna Tsing. The Mushroom at the end of the World really touched me in the way no other academic work truly could. For me, all the pieces finally clicked together.

I grew up deeply fascinated by the natural sciences and enmeshed into environmental work. My mother, now battling cancer, used to be an engineer hydrologist, conducting environmental research for urban city planning. But I was built different. Musically / creatively inclined since very early age, I wondered if my skills could ever contribute to environmental protection.

Between the activist youth of my mother and my own coming of age, the world has changed. The public interest slowly drifted further away from natural sciences and into the golden rush of Big Tech, the news of environmental destruction stopped making headlines. Yet, every day, we continuously bleed biodiversity. 

In the capitalist productivity fever-dream, environments become an inanimate backdrop, a resource, and a unit of urban zoning. But green environments like parks, forests, and gardens are alive; they are chaotic living ecosystems full of stories. Stories we no longer have the capacity to pay attention to. 

With audio technology, Arboreal Opera aims to render these stories audible and bring them to light. Using non-typical composition techniques that combine Biodata translation, Field Recordings, and Impulse Responses, Arboreal Opera captures the green life on tape, serving as a proof of its existence in time.  Because one day we might wakeup in a concrete desert with nothing but a memory of what a forest is. 

Arboreal Opera Project

An ethno-biographic composition project combining improvisation and cross-specie co-creation between human and arboreal life.

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