Megaphones in the Forest

Forest Megaphones

Wow. Check this out!

forest-megaphone_220915_02What is that thing in the photo above, you ask? It is a wooden megaphone, one of three sitting in a forest in Estonia. “The installation blends contemporary architectural space and wilderness and is accessible for hikers and nature lovers for free. The objects were placed at such a distance and angle that the sound feed from all the three directions creates a delicate unique sound at the very centre.” (http://www.boredpanda.com/estonian-students-build-amazing-unplugged-walk-in-megaphones-in-the-middle-of-nowhere/)

Where did this idea come from? Here is some background from a recent Huffington Post article.

“The project was inspired by the Estonian author and semiotician Valdur Mikita — a man who declared his desire to build the first “forest library” in the world. With Mikita’s ambitions in mind, the Academy sent students into the woods to explore what “reading in the forest” really means. But according to Hannes Praks, the project’s leader, the idea of “reading in the forest” quickly morphed into something else entirely, thanks to a chance encounter with a lost grandmother.

“In the initial stages we sent the students into the forest for a few days, to look for input and inspiration for a possible concept,” he explained to The Huffington Post. “The forest seminar failed utterly, because after half a day of intellectual chatter, a helicopter started to circle the forest and a moment later, the woods were filled with the police.”

It turned out that a local grandma had gone mushroom picking in the same stretch of woods, losing her way among the dense trees. So the students spent the rest of the seminar helping the police look for the lost woman.

“It was raining cats and dogs, and the mood was rotten. The search operation had failed and the granny remained lost,” Praks said. “It was only a while later that we found out from media that the granny who had spent over 24 hours lost in the forest had returned home, complaining only of a stuffy nose.”

As insignificant as the story may seem in relation to the mammoth megaphones, Praks believes the incident became the impetus for his students’ eventual project. He cites a particular student named Birgit Õigus, now credited as the author of the megaphones, who decided to imagine not physically reading words in the forest, but reading sounds — like the cries of people looking for a lost woman.

“This declaration saved the project,” Praks said. ‘The symbolic shape of the megaphones helps the user to focus and listen, but — it can also be used in reverse, to amplify the sounds you make yourself. If you shout into the narrower end of the megaphone, you could also call out for a lost mushroom picker.”( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/megaphone-art-estonia_56096896e4b0af3706dd034e)

Here you can read more about the project, and see some great photos.

And here you can see a video of the megaphones.

Is there a forest near you where you could build some wooden megaphones, megaphones which will eventually rot away and rejoin the forest? Maybe some engineering or architecture students could help you.

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