Four speakers broadcast snippets of words, Björk-like burbles and other electronic noises to the Fern Room’s spleenwort and club moss. Chicago composer Julia Miller created leave(leaf)/believe: A Meditation on the Complex Intersection between Emotions, Reason and Faith for Experimental Sound Studio’s Florasonic series, which brings sound installations to the Lincoln Park Conservatory.
The piece has a complicated history: According to the accompanying brochure, Miller created “mesostics”—poems derived from the arrangement of extant text—based on the “names of common weeds and other poetic language.” (Composer John Cage used mesostics extensively.) Sound synthesis transformed the resulting verbiage into “pitch clouds” that Miller intends to evoke “complex emotional and metaphysical experiences.”
During a recent Saturday-afternoon visit to the Fern Room, our primary emotion was irritation. It was difficult to hear Miller’s work over the hoots of some rowdy groomsmen who’d wandered away from a wedding in the park. We overheard one man say the installation reminded him of an Alfred Hitchcock soundtrack. Another dude, who clearly hadn’t read the brochure, informed his long-suffering date, “I bet these sounds are good for the plants” as a speaker emitted a noise that suggested a rusty metal cello.
We reason it’s best to experience leave(leaf)/believe when the Fern Room isn’t so crowded, but most likely you’ll enjoy the conservatory no matter what. Through Aug 31.