Emerald Ash is a meditation on the fate of the ash trees in Eastern North America, who are being decimated by the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species of jewel beetle that was brought over from Northeastern Asia, likely in the 1980s. In Montreal, where I live, some 40,000 ash trees are being cut down to reduce the spread of the insect, and it is estimated that most ash trees will not survive. A few trees, especially in the cities–in Montreal around 8000––are being spared with the use of a pesticide called TreeAzin, which must be administered by injection every two years.

The latest iteration was an installation as part of the “Listening Beyond the Human” events organized at matralab, Concordia, in collaboration with Hexagram.

Excerpt from video from Emerald Ash Installation
Ash Trees in Parc Père Marquette, Montréal, treated against the Emerald Ash Borer

This devastation came to my attention shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, and as I began investigating, I couldn’t help but feel parallels between our species. Likewise, I was increasingly reflecting on the connections, communications and shared presence that we have with not only animal beings, but also with plants or minerals.

Ash Trees; First Layer of Liquitex Ink on Mylar

My creative work has been inspired by or used ecological, natural and even scientific elements for quite some time. With Emerald Ash, I wanted to create from a place of reflection and meditation on what empathy, sympathy, or witnessing the trees, the borers, the parasitic or the symbiotic creatures in this human-induced situation. My goal was also to make this reflection a part of the score and the awareness, preparation, and playing of the performers.

Ash Trees; Second Layer of Liquitex Ink on Mylar

The creation process involved collaboration with Ensemble Paramirabo, with whom I explored ways to listen, witness and sound the impressions, ideas and emotions that come up when thinking about and experiencing the situation these trees are facing.

Materials for Workshop 2 with Ensemble Paramirabo, including interaction notation score, excerpts from  Výlety páně Broučkovy by Leos Janacek, and printed transparencies
Digital sketches for Emerald Ash banners

The members of Ensemble Paramirabo used a set of 30 videoscores to perform the work that I subsequently combined to create a video with many layers (see excerpt at the top of the page). Please contact me for access to the score.

Emerald Ash; Digitized Ink on Mylar