Turbulence Commission: “WoodEar” by Peter Traub

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Monday 22 October 2012.

Turbulence Commission: “WoodEar” by Peter Traub image

Bringing the body of the tree to the network is a natural fit — a tree is a network too: roots sensing and absorbing nutrients, leaves sensing and photosynthesizing sunlight, and phloem and xylem running throughout to carry nutrients across the structure.

“WoodEar” attempts to merge the dynamic qualities of this biological network with the digital network. A series of sensors attached to the tree stream data on the state of its environment — light, temperature, air pressure, and wind. This live data is merged with photos and recordings of the tree’s immediate surroundings into a generative application/installation. By downloading and running the application, anyone can access the live environmental experiences of the tree — one that may be very distant from them, but that still shares the same air, sun, earth, and sky.

“WoodEar” is a 2012 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. for its Turbulence website. It was made possible with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Peter Traub is a composer/installationist/net artist currently living in Charlottesville, VA. He completed his Ph.D. in 2010 in the Composition and Computer Technologies program at the University of Virginia. He received his Master’s in Electro-Acoustic Music from Dartmouth College in 1999, and has composed numerous works of electronic music, net art, and sound installations. His works have been performed and exhibited internationally and his piece, “ItSpace” — also commissioned by New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. — was featured on National Public Radio’s “Day to Day” in 2008. Between Dartmouth and UVA, Peter lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for five years where he worked as a software developer at internet startups. His dissertation, titled “Spatial Exploration: Physical, Abstracted, and Hybrid Spaces as Compositional Parameters in Sound Art,” was a series of performances, installations, and a large paper exploring the use of technology-mediated spaces in contemporary music.