Symphony Zero at San Mei Gallery

Symphony Zero at Brixton’s San Mei Gallery is a solo exhibition by Lisa Chang Lee.

Lisa Chang Lee’s work reflects a profound interest in nature and the environment and a collaborative approach – bringing together creative partners from other disciplines.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is ‘Serenade of the Woods’, an audio-visual installation. This perfectly illustrates that approach and is the outcome both of a very complex conceptual and creative process and the input of other artists.

The work unites technology and nature in a truly innovative – almost magical – way. Lisa Chang Lee has shot a series of short films of the natural world. The movement and rhythm of trees and plants are then minutely analysed by a computer programme and converted into sounds. Using a musical scale pioneered by the French composer, Olivier Messiaen, who was inspired by nature, the sounds are brought together into a musical score. Each plant is then represented by a specific musical instrument; a drum for an oak tree, a triangle for a flower and so on. Each piece is performed by humans thereby completing a cycle of human interaction and collaboration with artificial intelligence.

photo of galleryThe result is a series of short pieces of footage – round 25 minutes in total – which begin life as gently swaying trees and plants but which gradually become abstract digital images, accompanied throughout by music which has converted the movements into notes. 

If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is!

But the result is hypnotic. They are not simple melodies and harmonies but neither are the pieces just a collection of random sounds. They are somewhere in between, and possess a delicacy and energy which bring nature to life in an extraordinary way.

photo of leafAlthough ‘Serenade of the Woods’ takes centre stage, there are other works in the exhibition, including some exquisite bronzes of plane tree leaves – an interesting juxtaposition of the material and the subject. 

Entry is free and Symphony Zero runs until 4 September in the San Mei Gallery  39a Loughborough Road SW9 7TB

tel 0207 095 9771