Famous oaktree Highway 58 to be cut down


This week, from October 17 to 25 at the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven

with the theme: What if….

There is an exhibition by a group of designers that have been commissioned by the National Department of Waterways and Public Works organised by Atelier Tussenruimte.

Their work focusses on a specific Oaktree (the Anneville Oak), one of the very few natural vegetative landmarks within Dutch road landscape. Saving this tree has been a small step of a few individuals in the 1980’s and caused a major success in thinking about trees and road design.

However, the tree is currently threatened due to construction work. It is interesting to note that the local inhabitants would rather not spend a lot a money to save the tree and have fantasized about cutting it down or transplanting it.

The work of us, artists, is to reflect on this response and the possible future(s) of the tree.

My contribution, together with Arno Peeters (Sound Designer) is to first do research on the undoubtedly incredible root structure of this tree, surviving for already 20 years. Here is an impression of our work:

Anneville Oak – the root system examined using sound

The Anneville Plan for Tree 1056 (female)

Mighty trees have impressive roots. 30 years ago, this tree was left standing because she was the best developed tree of her cluster. Her roots had not grown transverse, but parallel to the new road. She had foreseen that she would have to adapt to humankind. Proud and pampered, she has been able she has been able to affect people emotionally for decades and, after a somewhat difficult start, she has been able to put down new roots: this time up into the foundation of the road, into the pores of the open asphalt; she is drinking from the road surface and flourishing. What her motives were is unclear; only her root system can shed light on this.

This is a project of a landscape architect and a sound technician trying their luck at listening and experiencing, by following sap flows and hearing how the labyrinth of underground branches has developed and continues to develop. Sap flows run into the core of the tree’s memory; a recorder of the unseen process of growth, decaying and adapting. We sent sound into the tree and, with it, explored her hidden architecture. But what did we hear exactly? Traffic passing by above ground? Rooms from which the capillaries branch out? Infarctions caused by the rigorous interference 30 years ago? Worms and bacteria that take part in life underground?

An unintentional effect of making history audible is that we can filter out our own present day.

Below is the sound recording, on your left ear, the INPUT sound that we use to trace and track, on your right ear, the OUTPUT sounds of the rootsystem, sapstream, car-passing and unnameable soundbits.

voorkant kaartje A5
give away card frontside

achterkant kaartje A5
give away card backside (Dutch version)

me, working on the wall painting (with chalk marker)

nearly finished after 4 hours of work (thanks to the help by Marco Bakermans)

first audio test in front of the installation

final presentation