Étude no. 2
Second part of a design research dedicated to exploring human-tree relationship.
Etude No. 2 practices humans’ and technology’s joint accountability towards trees and other Non-Human agencies, through an intimate and personal investigation. By designing a carrier for my personal computer and implementing open-source deep learning model, I took my laptop for a joint trip to meet trees personally. The carrier is fashioned out of an acrylic polymer sheet, laser-cut and heat bent, attached with polypropylene straps and buckles, deliberately excluding wood as a material. In the process of teaching my computer to acknowledge trees, I acquainted it with a code and a thousand previously marked pictures of trees. As a result, when the code runs on the computer, it can employ its built-in camera to perform tree recognition in real-time.
For this performative act, I chose a grove in the Carmel mountain, sacred to the Druze community, “Shajarrat al’Arbaein”, which literally translates as ”forty trees”. The grove features forty centuries-old Palestine Oaks (Quercus Calliprinos). According to local folklore, the grove serves as a site for a yearly gathering of the world's ancient wisemen, where they consult to decide the fate of the world for the following year. During the Ottoman and British colonization periods in Palestine, many oak trees were cut down to build railroads; however, the oaks residing in the grove were kept safe by the Druzes’ protection and care, due to their religious beliefs.
Technology, which commonly serves as a tool that renders trees as lumber, is not solely responsible for their shared future, nor is the human actor, which, without the technological means, could not have performed the disastrous activities to the biosphere’s skin. Rather, it is the hybrid that emerges in the intersection between technology and humans that should be held accountable for these actions And it is this hybrid that needs to be educated, starting at a young age, to develop responsibility towards trees, and other non-human critters. The Computer-Man’s performance suggests a shift for an equally responsible, concerned, alternative hybrid.