WorldTree - artistic description

The Work asks the question

The answer to this question provides the map for the journey through the Tree.

The initial text of the tree is an essay on sensing the mundane. Information gathered from the Internet references the initial text which forms the trunk and the canopy of the tree. The new text information streaming into the canopy of the tree is gathered from various websites eg. amateur astronomy, tissue culture and cell technologies. Birdsong is heard as the language of other species that sleep in the tree. The letters turn red and brown and together with the blue received text fall down to form an alphabetical mix at the base of the tree.

World Tree references the research of ethnomusicologist Ashley Turner (Australia) who studied the Belian practice of using the tree ( the world tree) as the central axis of the macrocosm, connecting the earth and the sky. Language is used to make simultaneous associations with both the cosmic external map and the internal map of the body. It maps the user’s body to the Cosmos and to the World Tree, as a mode of transport into a realm of illusion. Electronic communication for which we require an 'electronic / extra-sensory' receiver, is the macrocosmic agent which informs us in the everyday, mundane world. Developments in science and technology, in particular the life sciences, are having a profound effect on society, its values, belief systems and the treatment of individuals, groups and the environment. The construction of a digital simulated life changes our perceptions about what life is, and our engagement with it, challenging the way that we think about being alive and our reach for immortality.

The juxtaposition of the sole-authored text (which forms the trunk and canopy of the tree) with text from the wider universe (which forms the flowers and petals) is designed to highlight tensions between our subjective sensations and a universe accessed through digital communication. By focussing on a subjective experience of universal digital communication, World Tree builds upon work by Tom Corby (‘Reconnoitre’),

Subject to further funding, the work will be developed to include more organic interfaces in which the physicality of the user is central to the proportions and content of the tree. By operating a handful of earth or a stick the user will have a direct influence on the way the tree grows and the way that it connects to the external world of information.

“On the one hand, man is haunted by the desire to escape from his particular situation and regain a transpersonal mode of life; on the other he is paralysed by the fear of losing his ‘identity’ and forgetting himself.” Eliade

Ashley Turner, Ethnomusicologist, University of Adelaide, AustraliaSylvester Tlale, Robotics and Mechatronics, Massey University, NZ


© Raewyn Turner & Colin Beardon, 2004

Professor Colin Beardon
Dept of Computer Science
University of Waikato
Private Bag 3105
New Zealand

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