By Lory Diaz
Torontonicity was recently invited to the Adirondacks to visit iForest at The Wild Center, a facility that takes an art-and-museum-focused approach to natural history. The center is nestled on almost 33 hectares (81 acres) of lush woodland in Tupper Lake, New York. My love of outdoor activities, green spaces, and the arts had me highly anticipating one of The Wild Center’s most recent installations: a site-specific sound piece created by the British composer Pete M. Wyer, titled iForest.
iForest is a collaboration piece between The Wild Center, the Philadelphia-based chamber choir, The Crossing, spearheaded by Wyer. It consists of a 40 minute sound loop created using 72 voices, dispersed amongst 24 strategically-placed speakers, that follow a 305 meter (1,000 foot) long wooded trail. iForest is far greater than the sum of its parts though.
I entered the trail during the orchestral section of the piece, on a bright and sunny day. This facilitated a slow and beautifully immersive experience. As I progressed along the trail, I was captured by the harmonious environment created between man and nature. The intricate layering of voices from The Crossing is accompanied perfectly by the activity of the birds, wind, and rustling leaves. This means that depending on weather, season, and wildlife activity, every walk through iForest is personal and unique.
It’s important to note that the sound component of iForest doesn’t build to a crescendo of explosive sound, but instead allows the viewer to explore the winding path via the subtle peaks and valleys of the music. Both the Wild Center and Wyer were very conscious of the effect the piece could have on the site, so an ornithologist was brought in. They determined that the area was already impacted, as iForest is located just a minute walk from the main Wild Center building, close to the parking lots, and The Wild Walk platforms.
Have a listen to the music at iForest:
Wyer had been working on the concept for iForest since 2005, and made a deep connection with the Adirondacks after visiting. He made it a point to honour the Mohawk culture, as the original inhabitants of the land, and worked carefully with a translator to include the Mohawk language in the musical piece for iForest. The piece is formally titled I Walk Towards Myself, and includes messages of respect to the natural world and surrounding bodies of water.
The Wild Centre is an accessible facility, but please take note that the iForest trail is accessible by motorized wheelchairs. There are a couple of benches located throughout, and I would encourage everyone who visits to take a moment to sit and let the experience wash over them. iForest is open to the public during Wild Center hours until October 9, 2017. If you’re in upstate New York, please make sure to stop and check this piece out as it is a powerfully moving work.
The iForest is located at The Wild Center, 45 Museum Drive, Tupper Lake, New York.