The Christmas tree of the phygital era

LONDON – You’d think that Christmas and all its trappings would be the one celebration of the year that holds onto tradition. Yet it’s Christmas morning and you’re reading this on a screen. Behold the holiday season of the digital era!

In the grand hall of the Victoria and Albert Museum, visitors are greeted by Es Devlin’s Singing Tree. Immersive and engaging, this year’s edition of the annual holiday installation taps into our collective memories of joy and carols with the projection of digital words onto the ‘tree’.

The tree may be dematerialised, but its symbolism and significance remains. Conceived by Es Devlin –stage designer for performers such as Kanye West and Beyoncé as well as the Royal Opera House – the spectacular tree is comprised of projections that create a poem of seemingly unrelated words. Words sent in through the V&A’s website or contributed on-site are projected onto little signs hung from the ceiling and positioned in different angles to form the three-dimensional yet abstract ‘tree’. Illuminated through the projections, the Singing Tree is a glimmering and ephemeral addition to the Museum’s entrance hall.

In collaboration with video designer Luke Hall, creative technologist Ross Goodwin, creative agency Sunshine and music and sound collective Res.Lab, this cross-disciplinary installation also emits a polyphonic soundscape of voices generated by both human and machine. The audio-visual carol invites our digital selves onto a physical setting, bringing the two worlds a little closer for the holiday season.

Departing from being a static decorative piece, the Singing Tree is a personal interpretation of the holiday spirit, where each guest can have their very own poem that will continuously change throughout the season.  

esdevlin.com

Location Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Contribute a word to the Christmas tree until 6 January 2018 by visiting vam.ac.uk/singingtree

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