Tree:mails: Scenic Rim is an interactive new media artwork that allows users to strike up conversations with trees via email. Housed online as an interactive map that will be available at the end of 2016, the project was inspired by Melbourne City council’s emails for trees that allow users to report issues with trees on council land, however the council realised that people were more interested in using the system to email love letters to the trees. Tree:mails specifically allows all forms of love letter writing, and lets people use a digital interface to create a personal connection to the environment around them.
The trees will be GPS tagged, so they’re easily findable on the map and in real life, for anyone who wants to make a day of it and follow the tree trail around the Scenic Rim shire! The project offers a space for people to write their thoughts, memories, loves, and fears, into a secure email ‘ether’, and potentially get a response from a tree. How can a tree actually respond to an email? You ask. Well that is the magic of this project – it is possible that the trees themselves have very little desire to contact us back (let alone in English, via a computer) but the algorithmic system of Tree:mails allows for the trees to ‘respond’ in special cases.
What do we often do when we get online? Perhaps we check our social media, perhaps we look up things to buy, perhaps we sign a few petitions, perhaps we play games where we shoot people – these are often generally mundane tasks that don’t necessarily help us to feel connection or emotion for the world around us. Tree:mails is an experiment in using the digital – often thought of as cold and other-worldly – to create what will hopefully be real and warm connections with the environment, through memories, stories, and perhaps just a little anthropomorphism.
But wait, there’s more – Tree:mails is going to host a series of projection art events inside the Scenic Rim rainforest over 2016, beginning in May. These little bioluminescent activations (see a video of this here) will allow visitors to walk through a public forest at dusk while stumbling upon small unique projections, inspired by the emails of Tree:mails, projected onto rocks, logs, fungi, and other small magical forest areas. Stay tuned to www.treemails.net for specific dates in order to RSVP for these special events.
Tree:mails is going to be specific to the Scenic Rim area by the end of 2016, allowing people the chance to interact with trees in public spaces in many of the Scenic Rim’s major towns. The version currently on www.treemails.net is specific to a park in Bulimba, Brisbane – a smaller version of the project commissioned for Bulimba Festival 2015. Perhaps one day Tree:mails can grow the world over!
At this stage, the project is in development, and thus it is the perfect time for you to NOMINATE A TREE. Do you have a particular tree or trees in the Scenic Rim that you dearly love and would like to communicate with? Email a picture and location (GPS points if you have them!) to email@example.com to have your trees added to the project. Particular interest will be given to trees that are publicly accessible, trees that are endangered species, and very mature/established trees.