Pete’s immersive sound installations aim to create a shared experience where people can engage with soundscapes in a way that is both social and communal. For this reason his works rarely incorporate headsets or downloaded apps, instead preferring audio speakers. These are often under the title ‘iForest’ or ‘Immersive Forest’ and are mapped to a location, such as with ‘The Sky Beneath Our Feet’ at Descanso Gardens, Los Angeles in 2020, a work for 9 choirs of 8 voices, mapped in a ‘figure 8’ across a large area of California Live Oaks at Descanso.
This Forest Will Sing to You.
Pete is a pioneer of immersive and spatial audio. His first works, under the title ‘Simultaneity’ were created in 2004 to create a ‘God’s ear perspective of the world’ by recording multiple locations simultaneously and playing them back across multi-channel speaker arrays. These included worldwide recordings that simultaneously recorded the dawn, sunset, the dead of night and the thrum of the day.
This was followed by a desire to create sounds rather than only record them and in 2005 Pete developed ‘Time Structured Mapping’ as a way for musicians, actors, singers to collaborate simultaneously in different locations and with different musical/theatrical practises.
This in turn led to Time-Structured Mapping being used from everything for ‘Insomnia Poems’, Pete’s one-hour collaboration with poet, Steve Dalachinsky for BBC Radio 3 in 2009 (which was selected for ‘Best of 2009’) to ‘Welsh National Opera’ adopting the system for use in it’s educational workshops across the UK (2010 – 2012).
In 2016 Pete created his first ‘iForest’ for a commission by WNYC’s New Sounds Live at New York’s Brookfield Place. The 45 minute work ‘Song of the Human’combined the multi-Grammy winning choir, ‘The Crossing’, with a unique recording of British birdsong at dawn (the ‘dawn chorus’) made simultaneously at 18 locations across the woodland in collaboration with Professor Shigeru Miyagawa of MIT who launched a hypothesis illustrating that human speech is partly evolved from birdsong.
Since that time Pete’s iForests have been installed at ‘New York Botanical Gardens, the Wild Center, Descanso Gardens’ and others, attracting over 500,000 visitors.
In addition to outdoor installations such as these Pete has developed an opera ‘Ga Sho’ that fully integrates spatial audio, surrounding the audience and performers with 24 independent audio speakers. In 2022 he created an ‘improvised concerto’ for legendary percussionist, Bobby Previte’ Bobby Previte, which was performed with Bobby surrounded by 24 independent audio speakers in Rhinebeck, New York.
iForest at The Wild Center combines an immersive sound experience with the lush beauty of the Adirondacks.
The Sky Beneath Our Feet.
An Immersive 72 speaker installation inspired by the California live oaks of Descanso Gardens.
“In creating The Sky Beneath our Feet, I was especially interested in how the trees were experiencing the world, and the idea that trees communicate with each other and support each other. I knew I wanted to primarily use a 72-voice choir (or nine choirs of eight voices each) each with a separate speaker, spread over the wide area where there are live oaks. I also knew that I wanted these voices to evoke something of the world of those trees. This led me to the question: ‘what do these voices actually sing?’ I didn’t want to simply give them nonsense sounds but it felt forced to use language in the way humans commonly do. But when I started looking back at very early languages I found what I was hoping for: ancient runic languages such as Elder Futhark and Ogham have a limited number of symbols with multiple possible meanings, these seemed to come from cultures that revered nature and lived with a much closer relationship to it. Not only that but I liked the fact of communicating not in complex sentences but more in shared and exchanged understandings. Similarly with Aquitanian, the ancient and unique forerunner of today’s Basque language, I liked the fact that these people built altars to evergreen oaks (giving the first movement its title ‘Artahe’). I used other languages too, especially from cultures where I felt there was a tradition of reverence of nature.”
Pete M. Wyer