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Hundreds of Years Heard Through the Rings of a Tree (Video)


Artist, Bartholomäus Traubeck, found a way to extract both music and life from the insides of trees.

Poetically, existentially, we know that life leaves marks. We know those marks in our flesh, so to speak, with metaphorical images that nevertheless have a sense that’s both deep and real. Living leaves marks on our skin, our hair, on our bodies. And this goes for all living beings. In their last years, it’s common for dogs to lose teeth, the plumage of some birds becomes ashen and certain plants will simply stop flowering.

Living leave marks, and although these seem to be only signs of decay, in some kinds of beings these tracks are rather beautiful, perhaps because they are rarely visible: trees.

As we know, beyond their outward appearance, the age of trees is contained within their trunks in the form of rings that form and accumulate as the years pass. It’s unique feature that Hermann Hesse described as follows:

Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured.

Beginning with this fact, artist Bartholomäus Traubeck has made an extremely interesting piece that captures the passage of time and, without removing it from the aesthetic sensibility that is somehow inherent in them, he brings them to a very specific artistic territory: music. Traubeck designed a kind of turntable which, instead of reading vinyl records, follows the lines and textures of tree rings.


The result is exciting, as somehow the sounds are not merely a realization of a “symphony of life” (or should we say a Tree of Life?) But they’re also the work of an anonymous composer, implacable, and which is time, and under whose eyes everything happens and ordered as at a concert. This seems strange perhaps while we’re there, but over the years it takes on an unusual consistency, like the music is coming from the rings of the trees.

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