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The Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival (Wisconsin, USA) has been created and curated by two time Grammy award-winner Justin Vernon, best known as Bon Iver. For 2016 we were commissioned the installation of FOREST OF FRIENDS, aiming to bridge the festival grounds with the surrounding river.
Prominently placed behind the iconic Eaux Claires sign overlooking the Chippewa, FOREST OF FRIENDS comprised 40 synthetic trees with 2 cloud-like structures mounted on each, totaling 450 sound-reactive light-emitting points all acting as a graphic equalizer to the massive sound pressure levels produced by the festival's speaker arrays. In the backdrop of musical performances, the installation visually transduced renowned artists such as Erykah Badu, James Blake and of course, Bon Iver, who was at last presenting his long-awaited third studio album.
When music was stopped, each tree reacted individually to the sounds and touch of folk nearby, with all kinds of light textures being weaved by people singing, screaming and running in the forest. The processes developed during the setup (e.g. the daily activation around 8pm of all 450 devices one by one) also took on an unexpected performative character, with the audience spontaneously gathering to witness the strange foresters at work. At one point, a couple was down on one knee contemplating future love. Moving and unrepeatable, the forest of friends became real.