Boris Hauf & Keefe Jackson

For this collaboration Jackson and Hauf considered the materials and elements in the Fern Room—soil, metal, glass and sunlight—in parallel to the materials and elements of the saxophones and clarinets they play—wood, metal, plastic and breath. Combining their instruments with recordings of plants growing, and incorporating long silences and subtle phrasing, they composed separate tracks of different lengths for each loudspeaker. The result is that the sound combinations are always different, so the piece grows and changes organically and unpredictably, much like the plants in the Fern Room.



About the artists

Boris Hauf is a composer and multi-instrumentalist who lives and works in Berlin. He has composed for large and small ensembles, performance art, radio, video, and installation. Since 1999 he has regularly collaborated with many Chicago musicians.

Keefe Jackson is a reed player and composer wo is a key member of Chicago’s vibrant improvised music scene— as such he regularly collaborates with many local and visiting musicians. A respect for traditional forms combined with adventurous experimentation exemplifies his approach to saxophone and clarinet.

Genesis of round the creep of the wave line

Science has shown that entire forests are all interconnected by networks of fungi. ‘Maybe plants are using fungi the way we use the Internet and sending acoustic signals through this Web.’
‘[…]Plants can recognize when a good neighbor is growing next to them,’ says Monica Gagliano, evolutionary ecologist at the University of Western Australia. ‘[…] this communication may be based upon an acoustic exchange.’

Drawing upon Hauf’s and Jackson’s extensive assortment of saxophones and clarinets, using their natural timbral varitations based on the overtone series, together with sampled sounds (especially those of plants growing, amplified) and synthesized sounds, and processing them both by both digital and analog methods. Then mixing these at first seemingly disparate elements all together, and finding a ‘whole’ — but instead of trying to impose an artificial order or a narrative structure, allowing the man-made and natural sounds to co-exist and co-mingle with the experience of the actual ferns and the humidity in the Conservatory. An especially important aspect of this will be the quiet spaces and silences that are a natural compliment to winter weather.

Sunlight, glass and steel; humidity, soil and concrete; water, rubber and copper: the physical elements (inanimate) at play in growing ferns, beside the ferns (animate) themselves.
Wind, brass, and wood; aluminum, copper and plastic: the physical elements (inanimate) at play in growing sounds, beside the sounds (animate) themselves.

In experiencing this piece the audience is invited to take a position to ask: At what point do the animate and the inanimate reverse roles?

Using live reed instruments, recordings of the sounds of plants growing, amplifying and ornamenting the natural sounds of plants, 4 channel analog and digital processing, Boris Hauf and Keefe Jackson blur the lines between these at-first-glance disparate elements – illuminate the similarities and differences of the creative processes occurring betwixt and amongst the plants and the recordings.

During the process of creating the piece, a similar approach will be taken toward combining the individual contributions: in using the recordings, editing and processing them, and finally arranging the sounds throughout the Fern Room an attempt will be made to bring these decisions forth by working together not through a traditional artistic collaborative effort or the type of teamwork espoused by workplace efficiency experts, but by following the trajectories of the creative and reductive impulses and organizing things with the least amount of ‘intervention’ possible, to imitate the process of the plants’ growth.


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