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Listening Forest by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Exhibition Festival
North Forest
Ticket prices vary by day and membership.
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An interactive world of light, sound, and wonder

Become a giant of light towering over the trees. Plant a heartbeat in a field of 3,000 lightbulbs. Wade through a moving river of poetry, and more as you venture through this outdoor, nighttime experience.

The forest is listening—are you ready to be heard?

About the Exhibition 

A man puts his hand under a cane-shaped kiosk surrounded by a field of lights in the middle of the forest at night
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Listening Forest, "Pulse Forest", 2022, Bentonville Arkansas / United States, Photo by Stephen Ironside.

Back for its third and final season, Listening Forest combines light, sound, and technical marvels to create an immersive world waiting for its final piece: you. The forest’s eight interactive installations, each designed by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, invite us to play with tools built for surveillance and transform them into instruments of connection.

From bridges of light carrying a stranger’s heartbeat to a multisensory wave of offered voices, in the Listening Forest you’ll have the chance to use your hands, your voice, and even the afterimage of your own body heat to create fantastical experiences in the dark. And unlike a passive light show or display, you’ll be able to direct the forest’s response at every turn on this family-friendly walk in the woods.

Set to a custom soundtrack composed by electronic musician Scanner (Robin Rimbaud) and open during the Ozarks’ best season, this really is an outdoor experience unlike any in Northwest Arkansas.

See you in the forest.

Light Caution symbol Some artworks in this experience contain light effects. Viewing discretion is advised for visitors with sensitivity to visual light stimulation. Hosts at each installation can provide more information.

Experiences in the  North Forest

Every season offers new things to discover in the forest. Enhance your visit with one of the experiences below, and keep an eye out for new additions as the seasons change.

Tickets

Advanced tickets are encouraged. Walk-up tickets are available as capacity allows.

MEMBERS: Log in to see discount options.

 

Wednesday and Thursday Nights*:

Adults: $25 | Adult members: $15

Youth 7-18: $10 | Youth members 7-18: $7

Youth 6 and under: FREE

Friday, and Saturday Nights:

Adults: $30 | Adult members: $20

Youth 7-18: $15 | Youth members 7-18: $12

Youth 6 and under: FREE

Winter Break Family Nights: On December 20 – 22, kids under 18 enjoy free admission when accompanied by an adult ticketholder.

Member BOGO Deal:
Listening Forest tickets are buy one, get one free for museum members through the end of the year. Not a member? Join today!

 

Get Tickets

*Plus select Sundays during the holiday season (Nov 19 – Dec 31)

Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays; Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas

Call the Inclement Weather line to check on any cancellations: (479) 657-2488.

About the Installations

Learn more about the eight installations of Listening Forest.

Arkansas Text Stream
Flowing from just beyond view, a rush of letters projects onto a 70-yard-length pathway, slowly traveling downstream. Moving according to fluid dynamics in a non-repeating pattern, the letters’ journey is programmed to be as unpredictable as the motion of water. As you walk, your body creates ripples and jetties among the texts. If you slow or stop, phrases will pool around your feet, revealing wisdom from the past, reflections on the present, and hopes for the future—all sourced from regional community members.

This stream of texts is ever-expanding. If you would like to add your own thoughts to this work, please submit your contributions.

Submit your contributions

A group of people, at night in the forest, walk on a path lit by projected letters that they interact with by moving their bodies.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Listening Forest, "Arkansas Text Stream”, 2022, Bentonville Arkansas / United States, Photo by Stephen Ironside.
Forest trees lit by white lights from underneath at night.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Listening Forest, "Voice Forest", 2022, Bentonville Arkansas / United States, Photo by Stephen Ironside.

Voice Forest
From a distance, a steady murmur of voices radiates from a stand of illuminated trees. As you come closer, it’s apparent that individual voices are coming from specific trees and are punctuated with lights that blink with the words being spoken. Three nearby intercoms invite you to add your own voice to the memory of the forest. Each new addition shifts the recordings from one tree to another, changing the overall hum of the woods.

This chorus of new voices is joined by an audio archive selected in conjunction with regional, community partners. They range from historic recordings to more recent soundbites.

If you would like to add your own voice to this work, please submit your contributions.

Submit your contributions

Recorded Assembly
Acting as an invitation to Listening Forest, the first work you see consists of three monitors. Across these screens, faces blur and combine into an ever-changing composite portrait. As you approach, your likeness is quickly mapped and mixed with a collection of 600,000 previous participants to create an abstract and constantly modulating landscape of humanity.

In its more utilitarian applications, facial recognition software like this is often used for surveillance, where it enlists biometric data to single out and police individuals. Here, Lozano-Hemmer employs the same technology to emphasize our shared humanity, creating a composite portrait of faces that revels in anonymity. The resulting imagery creates a poetic inversion of this software, one that emphasizes inclusion rather than division.

A young girl stands facing a screen outside at night that displays a face blurring and combining into a composite portrait.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Listening Forest, "Recorded Assembly", 2022, Bentonville Arkansas / United States, Photo by Stephen Ironside.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Listening Forest, "Pulse Forest", 2022, Bentonville Arkansas / United States. Photo by Jared Sorrells.

Pulse Forest
3,000 lightbulbs flicker in time to the literal hearts of the Ozarks. Temporarily displaying the heartbeats of the last 3,000 participants, Pulse Forest expresses the fleeting nature of life, where every heartbeat replaces the one before. Like a memento mori, the work is a gentle reminder of death’s inevitability, presented in a way that celebrates the beauty of presence and life.

Lozano-Hemmer took inspiration from a scene from the 1960 Mexican film, Macario. In a scene from this film, thousands of candles inside a cave each symbolize a single life. The artist combined that visual with the experience of hearing the dual heartbeats of his twins. Fittingly, the pulsing lights and gentle chorus of beats create a near-womblike environment in the forest.

Thermal Drift
This work features a towering projection and glows with the most generous use of color in the exhibition. Using a thermal camera, the familiar color scheme—sometimes associated with surveillance footage—is now rendered as colorful particles. As you stand in front of the screen, these dots gradually drift outward, bouncing and swirling around as you disrupt their paths with your own movements.

Synched with an audio track, a dark screen glitches and shutters in time with the audio before opening up to a brilliant screen of color and particles. As the track reaches its close, the heat signatures become more ragged and erratic as the entire image returns to black, and the loop repeats in an endless cycle of renewal.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Listening Forest, "Thermal Drift", 2022, Bentonville Arkansas / United States, Photo by Jared Sorrells.
Two beams of light cross each other in the sky at night over a forest.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Listening Forest, Remote Pulse simulation, 2022, by Antimodular Studio.

Remote Pulse
Placed on opposite sides of the North Forest, two Remote Pulse stations connect strangers across the exhibition. A small terminal at either end has sensors for guests to place their hands. When both sides are activated, you’ll feel the pulse of the stranger on the other side under your own palms. Overhead, a set of pencil-lights pulse in time with the user’s heartbeat while crossing with the stranger’s pulsing beams above the forest.

An earlier version of this work, Border Tuner, connected participants across the US/Mexico border through heartbeats and the ability to speak to strangers. Constantly adapting to new settings, here Lozano-Hemmer removes the voice component and adds the lights, protecting anonymity as participants create their visible bridge of connection in the sky.

Embodied Light Beacons
In this installation, three giant stick figures meet in a forest clearing. Composed of limbs made of light, each robot-like figure waits motionless until you step behind it and control its arms, legs, and head by moving your own appendages. At this scale, all actions are captured as exaggerated beams of light that illuminate the night sky or enfold a fellow giant in a well-lit embrace. This amplification of size, coupled with the coordinated droning swooshes and sound effects of moving “limbs,” encourages you to view your own body in a new way.

people walk around tall, bright, robotic figures in the middle of the forest at night
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Listening Forest, "Embodied Light Beacons", 2022, Bentonville Arkansas / United States, Photo by Stephen Ironside.
People stand on a bridge at night looking out onto a ravine lit with bright white lights.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Listening Forest, "Summon", 2022, Bentonville Arkansas / United States, Photo by Stephen Ironside.

Summon
A bridge spans a dry ravine scattered with an array of light batons. As you speak or sing, microphones on the bridge transmit those sounds downstream as white streaks of light cascading towards the valley’s vanishing point. After a few minutes of gathering sounds, the batons at the end of the ravine glow blue, a thick fog starts to form, and a cacophonous composite of the gathered sounds slowly creeps toward the bridge.

Eventually, this wall of audio, blue light, and fog engulfs you completely. Once the moment passes, the setting becomes quiet in anticipation of a new round of sound offerings. If the forest is always listening, Summon expresses that idea in a tangible way by giving visitors back what they gave to it.

Soundtrack

Scanner composed each of the tracks in direct collaboration with Rafael Lozano-Hemmer to create an experience that is atmospheric, dynamic, and expertly tailored to enhance the Listening Forest experience.

Download the soundtrack

About the Artists

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Lozano-Hemmer is an award-winning media artist originally from Mexico City. He creates platforms for public participation using technologies such as robotic lights, digital fountains, computer vision, artificial intelligence, and telematic networks. His work has been commissioned by events such as the Vancouver Olympics, collected by museums including MoMA, Hirshhorn, Tate, and SFMOMA, and exhibited in art biennials in Venice, Sydney, New Orleans, Shanghai, and Singapore, among others. Listening Forest will be the most significant display of his outdoor installations to date, providing a mid-career survey of his largest works.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer headshot
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Scanner (Robin Rimbaud)

Scanner traverses the experimental terrain between sound and space, connecting a bewilderingly diverse array of genres. Since 1991 he has been intensely active in sonic art, producing concerts, installations, and recordings. His albums Mass Observation (1994), Delivery (1997), and An Ascent (2020) have been hailed by critics as innovative and inspirational works of contemporary electronic music. To learn more about Scanner’s practice, visit his website.

Scanner (Robin Rimbaud) headshot
Scanner (Robin Rimbaud)

Listening Forest FAQ

  • Is this a Christmas / holiday light show?
    No, this is not a holiday light show—but it can be a great way to spend the holidays with friends and family. Listening Forest is an artist-designed group of interactive installations that use light, sound, and technology to create unique experiences that help us connect with nature and each other.
  • When is Listening Forest open
    Listening Forest is open in the evening after sunset. Hours will vary based on when twilight occurs. Scroll up to click on the day you’d like to attend, then check the available time blocks for that day. Please note that Listening Forest is often open after the museum is closed.
  • How long does it last?
    As long as you like! You’re welcome to stay until Listening Forest closes. But to get the full experience, we recommend planning to spend at least 1-2 hours in the forest.
  • Can I take photos?
    Yes, taking photos and videos is encouraged. However, flash photography is prohibited—the flashes will interfere with the light experiences.
  • What should I wear?
    This exhibition is located outdoors, so we recommend checking the weather for your ticket date and dressing accordingly. Comfortable walking shoes (and layers during colder weather) are encouraged.
  • There are storms in the forecast—will Listening Forest close?
    The experience will be open rain or shine so long as the weather poses no threat to public safety. If Listening Forest is canceled due to unsafe weather, then tickets will be refunded. Please call the Inclement Weather line to check on any cancellations: (479) 657-2488.
  • Are pets allowed?
    Absolutely—well-behaved dogs on a leash are allowed in the forest. We do ask dog owners to clean up after their dogs and keep them under control at all times.
  • Is there an age restriction? Is Listening Forest intended for children and seniors
    The experience is designed for all ages. If you have accessibility needs in your party, please see the Accessibility section of this FAQ for more information.
  • Are there any concerns for guests with sensory sensitivities? 
    The eight installations include lights that turn on and off and change rapidly, which might be triggering for guests who have sensitivities to flashing lights or neurodiverse guests prone to sensory overstimulation.

  • Are there restrooms?
    Yes, restrooms are located in the Village area. The restrooms are wheelchair accessible.
  • Will there be food once we’re inside?
    Yes! The Village food court area has snacks, drinks, and warm beverages for sale. A satellite drink and snack location is also available in the North Forest as you make your way to the entrance of the experience.
  • Can we bring snacks or drinks into Listening Forest?
    No outside food, drinks, or coolers will be allowed inside.
  • My kids and I love souvenirs—will there be merchandise for sale?
    Yes! Stop by the Village to pick up unique Listening Forest shirts, gifts, and more.
  • I just want a nice walk in the woods. Will the North Forest Trail be open during the day?
    Yes, the North Forest Trail will be open for guests to enjoy during the day, but the installations won’t be active. The trail will close each day at 4 p.m. to prepare for the night’s experience.
  • Why can’t I visit the experience during the day?
    Listening Forest is designed as an immersive, nighttime experience. All the installations use light and illumination, which cannot be seen during the day.

  • Why should I purchase my ticket ahead of time?
    Tickets can be purchased on-site, but your preferred times may be full. We recommend purchasing your ticket in advance to ensure you can enjoy the experience at your desired time. Walk-up tickets are available if capacity allows. Adult member tickets are limited to 2 tickets per member purchase.
  • There is a time on my ticket. What does it mean?
    The time on your ticket is your arrival time slot. To help cut down on lines and prevent crowding, groups are assigned a time slot of your choice when you book a ticket. You may arrive at the Listening Forest entrance any time during the 30-minute time slot on your ticket. You may stay until the experience closes.
  • Are my tickets refundable?
    All ticket sales are final and non-refundable. The experience will be held rain or shine if the weather poses no threat to public safety. If the experience is canceled due to unsafe weather, then tickets will be refunded.
  • Where can I buy a ticket?
    Purchase tickets online, through the Guest Service call center at (479) 657-2335, or at the outdoor Guest Services station when you arrive at Listening Forest.
  • How many times can I visit the experience with the same ticket? Can I leave and come back?
    Your ticket is valid for one visit to the experience only. Re-entry is not allowed.
  • Do you have group rates?
    Specially priced $18 group tour tickets are available for advance ticket purchases for groups of 10 or more adults. Call to reserve your tickets now at (479) 657-2335.
  • Can the exhibition coupons given out at festivals and to school tour groups be used for free entry to Listening Forest?
    No, the exhibitions coupons given do not apply to Listening Forest.

  • Is Listening Forest accessible to all?
    Yes. The trails created for this experience are wheelchair and stroller-accessible. Wheelchairs will be available for guests to check out at the Listening Forest entrance, and a mobility shuttle will be offered to transport folks with accessibility needs by request between the ticketing area and the entrance of Listening Forest. Ask Guest Services staff about requesting this shuttle at either of these locations.
  • Is there a lot of walking involved?
    The full experience is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of walking. The forest is a natural setting with changing elevations, so please watch your step. Benches and seating are provided along the trails.
  • Are strollers and wagons allowed for children?
    Absolutely! We encourage you to plan for about 1.5 miles of walking while you’re at the experience. Depending on the age and abilities of your group, you may want to bring strollers, wagons, or mobility aids.

Ready to plan your journey into the forest? 

Reserve Your Listening Forest Tickets Today! 

The forest is waiting—are you ready? See available dates, choose your timeslot, and get tickets today.

Get Tickets

Community Contributors

We would like to thank the following community members for their important voice and text contributions to the artworks Arkansas Text Stream and Voice Forest:

Arkansas Soul Writers

Courtesy of Ozark Highlands Radio and the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism
Speakers: Alaina Balke, Dylan Hawf, Bobby Glendy, Bonnie Montgomery, Caleb Ryan Martin, Charley Sandage, Cindy Woolf, Dane Joneshill, Jay Unger, Molly Mason, Dave Smith, JC Bonds, Jimbo Mathis, Joe David Rice, Joe Purdy, Marty Stuart, Mary Gillihan, Pam Setser, Patsy Montana, Richard Mason, Tom Simmons, Willi Carlisle

Noelia Cerna, Ozark Poets & Writers Collective

The David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History and Arkansas Story Vault
Speakers: Gerald Alley, E. Lynn Harris, Dorothy Gilliam, Edith Irby Jones, Randall Ferguson Sr., Ida Adcox, Janis Kearney, Dr. Sheldon Riklon, Melisa Laelan, George Takei, Al Witte, Margaret Moore Whillock, Beatrice Shelby, Juanita McClellan, Christopher Mercer, John Ware, Peggy Parks, Gordon Morgan, Donna Axum Whitworth, Jim Blair, Milton Crenchaw, Margaret Clark, George Haley, Dale Bumpers, JB Hunt, Betty Bumpers, Jocelyn Elders, Mike Beebe, Jerry Jones, Bob Lamb

Ra-Ve Cultural Foundation and Dhirana Academy of Classical Dance
Speakers: Pearlyn, Shreya Ramani, Medhansh Sankaran, Aparna Asok, Srividya, Nandhini, Clemens, Paru Muni, Vinitha, Allan Paulose, Sudhir Katke, Chithra Sandeep

Sean Teutan

Visionairi Enterprises

Listening Forest Sponsors

Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Mandy and Kenneth Davis | Arvest Bank | Mary Kathryn and Matt Brown | Shannon and Charles Holley | Lyn and Norman Lear | Sue and Charles Redfield | Ozark Production Services, LLC