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Mary Tsiongas

Posted on: August 6, 2012

Imagine a darkened room, a clear screen with an image of tree rings hovering holographically on the surface of the screen. It’s transparent except for the tree rings. Beyond the screen is a large wall of projections triggered off by the viewer touching the tree rings. When the viewer continues ‘touching’ a tree ring, s/he will be able to view one of hundreds of video vignettes programmed to the rings on the screens. The work uses touch screen technology, and the programming language of MaxMSP to create a more lyrical read of drochronology. Think of the classic image of a mammoth slice of tree trunk with hundreds of rings dwarfing the human form and our concept of time, often labeled with significant historical events on the rings of the tree. My tree rings will invoke shadowy moving images of scenarios the tree may have recorded such as rainstorms (rainfall creates a larger ring), fire raging (causes scarring in the rings), or solar activity, (from research I will do at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona). Some will be illusory such as animal activity, a car burning, a train passing, and banal or mysterious human activities.

I will: hire an assistant to help me program the interactivity component of the touch screen activated video; purchase equipment- a mac mini to run the program,& a high resolution projector; Purchase a custom made hologram of a tree slice; rent a studio to test out interactivity & lighting of piece; and travel to Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research – University of Arizona for research.

September 2012–Develop Prototype ( 20 different video vignettes); December 2012 — Travel to Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research – University of Arizona for research; January 2013–Design Tree Ring hologram based on research at LTRR; February 2013–Create 30 more video vignettes to be in database of piece; March 2013–Complete piece and exhibit.

The project integrates the field of drochronology in a poetic and metaphoric way with human experience of time. This piece furthers my investigation of our changing relationship to the natural world. Seeing the images of events recorded by trees may bring about a desire to see ourselves as part of broader living systems, as interconnected organisms. The connection I am making is that the technology of interactive video allows the viewer to see (literally) what I imagine the trees to have recorded. The work also alludes to the impermanence of digital media.