Tree Of Codes

Forvll visits the Park Avenue Armory

“You might come out of this a little exhausted.” warns artist Olafur Eliasson on his latest work Tree of Codes; a right choice of words it is. The whimsical, flashing, and intense work of art that is Tree of Codes will have your eyes and ears dancing as much as the Paris Opera Ballet dancers do.

Visual artist Olafur Elisson, award winning choreographer Wayne McGregor and producer/composer Jamie XX come together to give to the world an astonishing collaborative in music, visual art, and dance. This journey in sound and light is performed by 15 dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet. Inspired by the Jonathan Safran Foer book’s feeling of body, void and form, McGregor aimed to reflect these characteristics of his own interpretation of the book into the choreography and interactive installations featured in the show. 

As viewers we were captivated by the atmosphere that was created by the music and color. At the start of the show you’re plunged into darkness ad quickly surrounded by scattered claps that slowly transition into rhythm. As the music further develops, dancers emerge from the pitch black with orbs of light attached to their bodies. Moving to the music separately then interacting with each other, the dancers lights slowly fade away back to the darkness as the music turns; a dreamy intro to the sensory journey to come.

Progressing further into the show, Elisson’s large installations become a stronger element with the dancers. Large mirrors, reflecting and creating the illusion of more dancers are incorporated. Colored windows rotating and changing color grab your attention as a spotlight travels across the audience. This is especially unique as you’re interacted with the stage. “When you see yourself reflected into a series of spaces and voids, which don’t behave as you expect, it’s a perceptual engagement that is extraordinary,” says Elisson. 


It’s a shame to see that Tree of Codes has been criticized as a gimmick and lacking substance since we had such a great experience, not to mention the standing ovation it received at the end of the show. Although it was hard to find a sort of plot or underlining meaning, the overwhelming emotion and beauty of the combined art forms certainly triumph. After all, almost all art is open to our own individual interpretation. As an viewer, we make up our own meaning. 

Our overall thought: WOW. Would we recommend? Absolutely. 

Review by: Dina V.

ariel jimenez