Tree Public Art in Rotterdam

tree public art

Along the canal in Rotterdam, there are many public artworks. This one particularly about one tree definitely stands out, as it seems trying to tell us a story about the tree’s past by preserving it through support by its other fellows in other species.

I thought this could be a great inspiration for our potential public artwork about one tree, that the story behind a tree does not need to only about its current life, but its memory is also worthy to discover.


Defining the Symbiosis through Chasing Squirrels…Where should they go without these oaks ?

squirrel trace

There is a special relationship between the gray squirrels and the pin oaks. The squirrels rely on the pin oaks to live. But they can also hurt the oaks by the bark stripping activities. They are not only showing up on the trees but also play in the parking lot close to these trees. Where are their habitats? Which trees do you like the best? Beyond the trees. where will they show up? The goal is to reveal this symbiotic relationship further through “chasing” and “documenting”.. (To be continued)

Chipko Movement in India


Chipko movement, also called Chipko andolan, nonviolent social and ecological movement by rural villagers, particularly women, in India in the 1970s, aimed at protecting trees and forests slated for government-backed logging. The movement originated in the Himalayan region of Uttar Pradesh (later Uttarakhand) in 1973 and quickly spread throughout the Indian Himalayas. The Hindi word chipko means “to hug” or “to cling to” and reflects the demonstrators’ primary tactic of embracing the trees to impede the loggers.

With the conclusion of the Sino-Indian border conflict in 1963, the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh experienced a growth in development, especially in the rural Himalayan regions. The interior roads built for the conflict attracted many foreign-based logging companies that sought access to the region’s vast forest resources. Although the rural villagers depended heavily on the forests for subsistence—both directly, for food and fuel, and indirectly, for services such as water purification and soil stabilization—government policy prevented the villagers from managing the lands and denied them access to the lumber. Many of the commercial logging endeavours were mismanaged, and the clearcut forests led to lower agricultural yields, erosion, depleted water resources, and increased flooding throughout much of the surrounding areas.

In 1964 environmentalist and Gandhian social activist Chandi Prasad Bhatt founded a cooperative organization, Dasholi Gram Swarajya Sangh (later renamed Dasholi Gram Swarajya Mandal [DGSM]), to foster small industries for rural villagers, using local resources. When industrial logging was linked to the severe monsoon floods that killed more than 200 people in the region in 1970, DGSM became a force of opposition against the large-scale industry. The first Chipko protest occurred near the village of Mandal in the upper Alaknanda valley in April 1973. The villagers, having been denied access to a small number of trees with which to build agricultural tools, were outraged when the government allotted a much larger plot to a sporting goods manufacturer. When their appeals were denied, Chandi Prasad Bhatt led villagers into the forest and embraced the trees to prevent logging. After many days of those protests, the government canceled the company’s logging permit and granted the original allotment requested by DGSM.

The Log Driver’s Waltz


A little bit of tree culture, this short animation developed by the National Film Board of Canada was used often as filler between television programs when I was growing up. The Log Driver’s Waltz puts a romantic spin on Canada’s long history in the logging industry. As a kid I used to love when this would come on.


Chimeric Sensing

Diagrams and illustrations of the brain and it’s reception of sensory information by Spanish neuroscientist  Santiago Ramón y Cajal (Klein 2017)


The term chimera is used to describe organisms composed of cells which originate from  two or more distinct genetic genealogies. It has been suggested that the cilia which facilitate the human senses may be “chimeric compounds of once free-living organism, now yoked together in our animal bodies and harnessed to enable sensory apprehension” (Helmreich 2016, 175) implying that we ourselves are chimeric organisms. If this is so, can some of our genetic lineage be traced back to trees, also considered chimeric organisms? And what are the chimeric compounds with which trees sense the world? Beyond this biological chimerism there also exists a technique called auditory chimerism a tactic used to decompose and reconstruct sound recordings “realized through a technical practice of sieving one sound through the other—pressing the ‘fine structure’ (the second-to-second pitch and texture) of one sound (say, a drum) through the ‘envelope’ (overall attack, sustain, and decay profile) of another (say, a piano).” (Helmreich 2016, 174).

Timbre also plays an important role in the study of auditory chimerism. It is described as “that attribute of auditory sensation in terms of which a listener can judge two sounds similarly presented and having the same loudness and pitch as being dissimilar.” (Helmreich 2016, 176). There might then be two ways to explore trees in terms of sound. As articulators (producing sounds of their own) and as resonators (instruments to be played). If we were to record the sounds emanating from the trees and recognize dissimilarity in these sounds across different trees or different species of tree, perhaps a taxonomy of tree sound could be established, suggesting the idea of a timber timbre. And applying techniques of auditory chimerism, passing the fine structure of tree sound through the envelope of human speech (and vice versa), could be one way of exploring a biological chimerism that speaks to other relationships between people and trees.

Helmreich, Stefan. 2016. Sounding the Limits of Life: Essays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 

Klein, Joanna. 2017. “Hunched Over a Microscope, He Sketched the Secrets of How the Brain Works.” New York Times, February 17.

Iron Gall Ink

Iron gall (also called oak gall) ink had been the standard writing and drawing ink in Europe for around 1500 years. It has a color of blue-black when freshly made and become rusty brown when degraded. Iron gall ink was very popular because it is very durable that could not be wiped off from the paper or any other porous materials unless you scape the material off. Therefore, a lot of important manuscripts have been written using iron gall ink including the United States Constitution, the oldest, most complete Bible currently known to exist. Meanwhile, iron gall ink was not used exclusively for writing, some well-known artists such as Van Gogh and Victor Hugo used the ink for drawing.

davinci_drawingiron gall ink drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci                                                          image credit:

The galls used to make iron gall ink are rich in tannic acid. Galls are abnormal outgrowths of plant tissue on certain trees like benign tumors in animals, which are usually found on foliage or twigs. Some galls form where insects or mites feed or lay eggs. They may also develop as a response to infections by several kinds of fungi, bacteria, and viruses.

Traditional iron gall ink are homemade for dip pens because the ferrogallic deposit would clog the fountain pen’s ink passages and corrode metal pen parts since the ink is highly acidic. The acidity could be a problem of the ink because over time the ink may corrode the material applied especially paper.

image credit:

Currently, there are hundreds of recipes of the ink. They are all based on for basic ingredients:

—water or wine(red or white)
—powdered galls
—binding material(commonly gum arabic)
—iron donor(commonly iron sulfate)

We’ll use the galls from our pin oak trees to make “Brookings” iron gall ink.

Ongoing Tool Inventory


By necessity, he or she uses a set of specific concepts, methods, and instruments that allow him or her to perform in a variety of contexts.

from Tom Avermaete, “Accommodating the Afropolis: Michel Eccochard’s Alternative Approach to the Modern City,” Informalize! Essays of Political Economy and Urban Form (Berlin: The Ruby Press, 2012) p.21.

And so we look for a tool to look for our contexts. In doing so, we redefine the existing meaning of these instruments and their contexts.

Danger Safety Tape is no longer just an instrument of defining danger and shedding risk. It also marks the extent of the page, defining an inside and outside, a participant and an audience. From behind the tape, an individual can ask questions verbally, communicating interest through watching. Inside the tape an individual can ask questions by taking action – physically digging a trench to locate the extents of a tree root. Perhaps the only synonym for context is frame. The danger tape signifies both a physical frame and provides other meta-frames. The tape signifies to our audience that this is a work zone : official, not to be tampered with, dangerous. It mimics something familiar of the fences further along the allée, another testing zone – material mockups for new buildings to be come. In turn, it sheds us a credibility and a stability. Not just a bunch of unhinged students devoted to a tree – which we completely are.