Woodpecker, experimental salvific orchestra


According to studies done in the eighties, there could be a ‘sound’ correlation between increasing drought and the proliferation of wood-eating insects outbreaks on trees. A lack of water causes voids in the lymphatic vessels. Depending on the diameter of the cavity, the flow of lymph emits ultrasonic vibrations that seem to attract more xylophagous species. So how do we preserve forests? How do we restore the natural balance if, according to 2006 WWF research, even the birds that feed on these insects, such as the woodpecker, are dying out? Starting from these two studies, Rihards Vitols has designed the work “Woodpecker” as a possible solution to the problem, inspired both by unexpected natural soundscapes as well as the first hints of ecological disaster. The artist has invaded a small part of a wood with an orchestra of artificial woodpeckers. Carefully built of wood, with a form suited to perching gently on branches, these small devices beat thanks to a servo motor powered by a connected solar panel. Despite the generated sound, the invasion of Vitols devices seems like a peaceful attempt to restore the balance of an ecosystem, one in which a simple but strategically applied technology becomes the simulation of a crucial natural communication between insects, trees and birds, one that is now missing despite its fundamental role in their mutual survival. Chiara Ciociola


Rihards Vitols – Woodpecker