Essay ‘The Forest Echoes Back’ in Kunstlicht – Journal for Visual Culture

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The essay ‘The Forest Echoes Back—Retracing Ecological Narratives Through Listening to the Thuringian Forestwas recently published in Kunstlicht—Journal for Visual CultureVol. 45, no. 1/2 REVERBERANT ECOLOGIES: ON THE RELATIONAL IMPACT OF SONIC PRACTICES.

Abstract: The Thuringian Forest in Germany has existed for about 10,000 years but has undergone the most significant changes over the past two centuries since the beginning of industrialisation. Primarily a mixed forest, it got transformed into a monoculture of fast-growing spruce trees vulnerable to climate change and bark beetle infestations. To prevent the spread of the bark beetle, the forest management responded with extensive clear-cuts to remove the ‘infected’ trees. But despite its rapid transformation and disappearance, the forest still holds within its sonic flux the echoes of centuries past, revealing stories of ecological change, human interaction with the forest, and the dynamic interplay between the different actors forming its environment. A reverberation of deep time that can tell a lot about the forest’s development and its possible futures. In this essay, I unpack the question of how to retrace past events and current developments in the acoustic environment of the Thuringian Forest through bioacoustic research, listening practices, and, to a certain degree, speculation. By ‘reading’ a recording of a clear-cut of the Thuringian Forest and identifying patterns and changes that reflect its ecological history, I tune into ecological narratives informed by the acoustic imprints of the forest, weaving together various reverberations of the forest’s ecology. 

The issue can be purchased here and will be available online at a later moment here.

Follow Nele Möller:
Nele Möller (°1990) is an artist and researcher working primarily in sound, video, performance, and radio. Her focus is on forest conversations, historical nature inscriptions, and listening practices. In October 2021 she started her PhD project ‘The Forest Echoes Back’ at KU Leuven/LUCA Schoof of Arts Brussels, under supervision of Wendy Morris and embedded in the research cluster Deep Histories Fragile Memories.