Mónica de la Torre & Hans Tammen

ARBORETUM is a collaboration between poet Mónica de la Torre and sound artist Hans Tammen. A series of poems written by de la Torre, inspired by some of the trees of Governors Island, are in turn processed and spatialized by Tammen. De la Torre considered the botanical and historical specificities of species of the island’s trees.

If we could hear trees talk to each other through the fungal networks connecting them, what would they say about their deployment by city officials and park authorities, about the humans around them? If we could hear the carbon they store, as well as the records they keep, how would they sound? What memories do they carry of their respective migrations; how do they perceive their surroundings? Questions such as these informed the poems, their electronic processing and their location in a multichannel sound environment. The piece weaves word play, lyric meditations, and documentary fragments that produce an ambient poetics and ecology of sounds when joined with their sonic counterparts.

On Governors Island the electronics are presented on an 8-channel cube system, with the top 4 speakers moved 45º against the bottom speakers. The voice is coming from the 9th speaker situated in the middle of the room.

Mónica de la Torre photograph by Nat Ward

Arboretum Installation on Governors Island

Mónica de la Torre’s most recent book, Repetition Nineteen (Nightboat), centers on experimental translation. Other books include The Happy End/All Welcome (Ugly Duckling Presse)—a riff on Kafka’s Amerika—and Public Domain. She has published several books in Spanish, including Taller de Taquimecanografía (Tumbona), written jointly with the eponymous women artists’ collective she co-founded. She is a contributing editor to BOMB Magazine and, with Alex Balgiu, co-edited the anthology Women in Concrete Poetry 1959–79 (Primary Information). She is recipient of the 2022 Foundation for Contemporary Arts C.D. Wright Award for Poetry and a 2022 Creative Capital grant. She teaches poetry at Brooklyn College.

The installation is on view at the Harvestworks New Art and Tech exhibition on Governors Island May 18 - August 20, 2024. Programmed for the Harvestworks Art and Technology Program on Governors Island this group show that opens the season with studies in human perception via artworks that explore privacy, brain-computer interfaces, climate and fungal networks, Artificial Intelligence and themes of air, flying and floating.  Selected by the Harvestworks arts committee, the works use creative technology such as audio spatialization,  stochastic audio, gesture and biotech interfaces and simple motorized devices.

Special thanks to Erik Bell at the NYU Media Commons Audio Lab and the Harvestworks Artist in Residence Program.

Equivalencias (2018)

Mónica de la Torre and Hans Tammen live at Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, CA, 2018