Arboreal Receptors


sound sculpture/objects on trees and electronics


commissioned by IMA Institute of Media Archaeology St. Pölten 

Curator: Lona Gaikis 

In collaboration with Sonnenpark LAMES, St. Pölten 

technical assistance on metal support: Klaas Hubner

Funded by the Federal Government of Lower Austria, the City of St. Pölten and the Federal Ministry for the Arts, Culture, Public Service and Sport BMKÖS.

Multitudes of human-made radio frequencies and electromagnetic fields expand inconspicuously in the air as a large net in both urban and natural landscapes. These waves enable our communications and interconnectivity. Underground, a different kind of network co-exists with ours. Tiny impulses bearing info chemicals run in between trees and mycelium, establishing mutualistic partnerships, mycorrhizal networks. These networks tie Trees with fungi in a very deep economical exchange essential for the survival of both organisms.


What kind of landscape dynamics emerge when these 2 different types of networks meet? Has human-made electromagnetic radiation changed and shaped natural ecosystems and environments? 


The project initiates a close investigation pointed towards the daily operations of a tree and its exposure to interference. As George O. Squier discovered in his patent ‘~ Trees as Antennas, June 14, 1919, & British Patents’; Trees are natural antennas, pointed ears from the earth that absorb involuntarily all sorts of RF and EMF.


‘’It would seem that living vegetation may play a more important part in electrical phenomena that has been generally supposed. … the earth’s surface is already generously provided with efficient antennae, which we have but to utilize for communications, … ''

George O. Squier / 1904 


But these natural antennas are already themselves engaged in multiple communications exchanging nutrients and water and sending electronic signals through their underground networks in what some cordially call the ‘’wood wide web’’. Forest trees have evolved to live in cooperatives maintained by a collective-like intelligence. What happens when these very sensitive ecosystems are interfered?


Impacts of RF-EMF fields on trees have been scientifically demonstrated over the past 80 years. Studies have shown that in areas where a mobile-phone antenna is installed, trees manifest changes in their trunks, leaves and branches almost immediately. Usually, one disturbance announces another disturbance. These networks developed animosity toward each other.


Arboreal Receptors aims to disclose the occurrences of radio-electromagnetic disturbance moments, from a tree's perspective. Sculptural instruments appear as Kinetik garments placed in suspension, gently on 3 to 5 trees. Inspired by the functioning principles of earlier experiments with tree radio reception, these objects embed thin toroidal coils wrapped around the trunks that intercept field fluctuations. The objects feed on the occurrence of radiation captured by the trees involuntarily, to create movement in a small electronic circuit.


Radio frequencies, radar, cellular tower radiations of all sorts and more EMF, captured by the treetennas are harvested. The circuitry converts this radiation to an audible and visible movement. RF and EMF waves are transduced into mechanical forces making thin sheets of metal vibrate. The metal plates move sporadically in irregular patterns each time radiation is intercepted by the tree. Once placed in an arboreal collective, multiple sculptures sonify through various noises and rhythms the invisible conflicts from the clash of two very different systems of information and exchange.