Harmony of Trees

Harmony of Trees

Harmony of Trees was commissioned by HGOco (Houston Grand Opera) for the art installation Hello, Trees! A Walking Serenade by Daily tous les jours at Discovery Green. The art installation was inspired by the long walkway in the Discovery Green park shaded by several live oak trees. In a nutshell, the installation records patrons’ voices and transmits them along grand arches as colored light. As each beam of light reaches a speaker, the recording becomes more distorted until the original recording has been transformed into something entirely different.

Upon meeting with HGOco director Carleen Graham and Discovery Green Programming Director Susanne Theis, I mentioned that my piece should utilize the installation as it was originally intended. After further discussion, we all agreed that we wanted the piece to enhance the experience of the installation while minimizing any disruption to the natural flow of the park. Susanne also shared with me some research she had collected about trees and how they “communicate” including Suzanne Simard’s TED talk, How Trees Talk to Each Other. I quickly decided that Harmony of Trees could become a metaphor for the diversity of Houston and how our diversity strengthens our community. As such, I chose to illustrate this metaphor by selecting the proverb “Strength in unity” and its equivalent in the ten most spoken languages in Houston. Aside from Arabic, I was able to find proverbs in all ten languages that highlighted the importance and strength of cooperation. (The meaning of the Arabic proverb roughly translates to “A tree begins with a seed.” which I thought was a suitable substitute considering the theme of the installation.) As an added bonus, we discovered that the languages quickly disappeared as the phrases traveled from one side of the installation to the other leaving only the melody, almost as if our linguistic differences are superficial and that underneath it all, we are all human.