College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; College of Arts and Humanities

Innovative outdoor sound experience coming soon to SC Botanical Garden


EVENT UPDATE: Due to forecasted inclement weather, “Murmuration” has been postponed. Organizers plan to announce new dates on the Clemson Events calendar as soon as a future weekend’s forecast is suitable.

The word murmuration is often used in literature to describe sounds such as rustling leaves or, less figuratively, it’s the term for a flock of starlings, birds also defined by their sound — a murmur — while flying in formation.

Likewise, “Murmuration,” a sound installation by Jonathon Kirk and Lee Weisert, is about subtle sounds that reverberate through nature — and those who want to listen to the music it makes can do so in December, for one weekend only, at the South Carolina Botanical Garden (SCBG).

In partnership with the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, the Garden is bringing the immersive exhibit, which uses algorithms to mimic nature’s rhythms to Clemson — algo-rhythms, one might call them — to the Clemson University community.

Click to enlarge.

The artistic collaborators, Kirk and Weisert, music professors at North Central College and the University of North Carolina, respectively, created the outdoor sound artwork from 100 wireless sound modules — robotic woodblocks — mounted on trees in a forest or large wooded area.

“The Garden is a unique venue that lends itself to innovative exhibits like ‘Murmuration,’” said Assistant Director of Strategic Operations Shannon Barrett. “We expect this unique experience will both delight our regular visitors and bring new people to the Garden.”

“The instruments are triggered by computer-generated algorithms that mimic biological and geological processes,” Weisert said. “The work is designed to be installed temporarily as a two- to three-day performance during daylight hours.”

The experience is free and open to all, and is co-sponsored by SCBG and the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts. While “Murmuration” has been postponed from its initially planned dates, organizers say they hope to announced new dates as soon as a weekend’s forecast is conducive to the show.

Both the Brooks Center and S.C. Botanical Garden are dedicated to providing culturally enriching experiences for our community. Partnering to bring ‘Murmuration’ to Clemson is a natural collaboration for our organizations and one we are excited about.

SHANNON BARRETT, SCBG Assistant Director of Strategic Operations

Established in 1994, the Brooks Center has been the hub for the performing arts in Clemson for almost three decades, hosting world-class professional music, theatre and dance performances.

“Partnering with other community organizations is so important to the Brooks Center, so we are excited for the opportunity to co-host ‘Murmuration’ with the South Carolina Botanical Gardens. The installation pairs nature with technology and sound to create a fascinating immersive experience that visitors are sure to enjoy,” Brooks Center for the Performing Arts Executive Director Janice Crews said.

Visitors can enjoy the SCBG grounds free of charge 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset, not only on the dates of the performance, as the Garden has blossomed into a 295-acre sanctuary for diversity by re-engaging people in the living world.

“Murmuration” was supported by a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship Grant and a grant from New Music USA.

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