The Deep Listener
Jakob Kudsk Steensen
Serpentine Augmented Architecture in collaboration with
Google Arts & Culture and Sir David Adjaye OBE
To download The Deep Listener app for iOS
and Android mobile devices tap the links below
If onsite at the Serpentine, for Wifi, use Serpentine PUBLIC
- The Deep Listener is an audiovisual experience, and headphones are recommended. Before you open the app, if you don't have headphones make sure you have your sound turned on.
If you are at the Serpentine Gallery
- On opening The Deep Listener app, use its map to walk to the first AR experience: the London Plane Tree, marked by a new sculpture by Steensen.
- When you have arrived at the correct location to trigger the AR, the orb marking the plane tree on screen will glow. Touch the orb to begin.
- Once you have launched the AR experience, use your phone to see and hear the species. As you move, you will notice a change in sound and tempo; the species’ soundscape will slow or speed up in response to your unique movement. Tap the information button to find out more about each species.
- Use the map to walk between all five AR experiences spread across Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. Each experience is only viewable in its specific location. When you arrive at each location, the orb will glow signalling it is possible to trigger the AR.
If you are away from the Serpentine Gallery and the park you can use the map and see a smaller specimen of each AR species. Touch the orbs on the map to find out more about each species then see and hear them in augmented reality.
*iOS: supported on iPhone 6s and above. Android: requires ARCore support and Android 8.0 or later.
Selected as the first Serpentine Augmented Architecture commission, Kudsk Steensen responded to the global open call for new forms of architecture by examining the systems and infrastructure of the park and its species, and the legacy of human impact across time. At the core of the work is the London plane tree, a hybrid of two sycamore and plane trees from different sides of the world, that functions, as Kudsk Steensen states as ‘an early form of bio-architecture’. Planted liberally throughout London during the Industrial Revolution, the tree can withstand extremely polluted conditions and the bark absorbs pollutants to protect the tree itself and clean the air we breathe which is then regularly shed. The bark becomes an archive and historical document of particles and pollution that connects our bodies to the species that cohabit the park.
The Deep Listener invites you to be guided on a journey to both see and hear the sights and sounds of five of London’s species: London plane trees, bats, parakeets, azure blue damselflies and reedbeds, that are part of the park ecosystem that might otherwise be ignored, intangible or simply invisible. Drawing on the principles of deep listening, a slow and embodied process of attentive and embedded listening in order to reflect and learn, Kudsk Steensen has collaborated with the field recordist and sound designer Matt McCorkle to represent five species as sound. Mirroring the process of field work undertaken by Kudsk Steensen, both the audio and visuals within the project are drawn directly from organic source material gathered from a period of embedded research within Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. These organic materials are then transformed through digital processes to be re-embedded within the same context. As you move through the augmented reality encounters of the commission, these soundscapes can be sped up and slowed down according to your proximity to the ecological visualisations in order to reveal the complexity and nuances of non-verbal aural languages and shift your own relationship to time. Through these interactions, your own body becomes the mechanism to alter the environment around you and the technology becomes an active form of communication between the human and non-human actors in the park.
Through The Deep Listener, Kudsk Steensen builds an experience for users to explore the sublime and vexing power of our ecosystem. The park becomes, as it has throughout history, the architectural backdrop to access the natural world that exists within the city.