If a Tree Falls in a Forest

interactive digital installation, 2012
software program written by the artist, digital piano, computer, projector, speakers This work is a collaboration of C. J. Yeh and Dr. Ay-ling Kong.

If a Tree Falls in a Forest is a playful twist on that famous philosophical conundrum from the 18th century. Instead of debating the possibility of unperceived existence, the artist created a software program as a commentary on our dependency and seemingly endless desire to be “heard” by others via social media platforms.

While the software is in idle mode, a question is posted as a computer projection on the wall: “If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one around to tweet it.” When the audience begins to play the digital piano at the center of the installation, the software program written by the artist will “hijack” all the music notes, package the information in the form of Twitter logos, and only release the sound when the logos fall and shatter. If a Tree Falls in a Forest literally delays the existence of the sound until it is shared through digital media, resigning to the reality that social media has already altered the way we communicate and experience the world.