Before I go onto the Bureau work, I will diverge a little to show a couple of the Trees Projects. These works want to turn some technological attention to trees. The projects do not simply complicate the binary opposition of the natural and the cultural -- iconified in this case by the trees and technology. More than this, it's to engage these naturalized and un-commodified phenomena -- paradoxically commodifying them in order to enter them into techno-social concerns.
Prosthetic for a Tree essentially picks up one of the evenly spaced iconic, urban, plane trees and puts it on a seventeen meter extension -- it's essentially a tree for the sixth story. At pedestrian level, there are three LED displays for the gratuitous (of course) display of information. The displays offer:
1. (sap flow reading) hydration rate of the tree
2. water uptake
3. leaf counter....
|I'd like to focus on leaf counting because it presents a difficult computer vision problem. Not that anyone has really tried it, but in similar projects, it has proved very hard to pick out similar shapes of similar color of a dense mass. Leaf counting requires several video cameras, some nifty algorithms, and a Silicon Graphics machine or two. But I think Prosthetic for a Tree is an interesting contrapuntal to the Osmose Virtual Reality piece, which used a tree as its central representation, along with two million dollars of equipment. Prosthetic for a Tree is inverse to that project because the Virtual Reality project uses processors to construct a complex, simulated environment from numbers and algorithms. The reverse is true for this project. With each leaf being simulated in the Virtual Reality piece -- here, each particular leaf is being reduced. The prosthetic for the tree reduces the complexity of an actual tree into a radical, simplified number. Each tree leaf is generated and so are its positions. Each different leaf becomes a numeric event.|