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Caroline Locke: The Frequency of Trees

This work has been temporarily removed from display for maintenance.


Conceived during Locke’s residency at YSP, The Frequency of Trees comprises a series of 14 tuning forks tuned to the frequency of different trees within YSP: Oak, Horse Chestnut, Beech and the Cedar of Lebanon in the Formal Garden.

The frequency of sound is measured by counting the number of occurrences of an event per unit of time. By measuring the number of times a branch or leaf on a tree moved a certain distance within a set time frame, Locke was able to equate tree movements with Hertz readings, the unit used to measure sound.

You are invited to strike the tuning forks gently using the beaters positioned around them. After striking, listen for the resonating frequencies that continue long after the initial strike – these are the pure musical tones that exist after the initial high overtones recede.

The commonly stated human hearing range is 20–16000Hz thus the 16Hz fork will appear to have no sound, however you can still enjoy the sight of sound by watching the fork resonate. Several animals, including moles, have a lower range so moles underground will be able to hear it when humans can’t.