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Treemails is one part interactive net artwork and one part community art project. I have created a dynamic and easy to use website, for all web-enabled devices and browsers, that viewers can use the write emails to trees. People can write whatever they feel, whether it is a love letter, a story, a memory, etc. Some emails will get responses from the trees themselves!
The first project under the Treemails banner is Treemails:Bulimba. Treemails:Bulimba debuted as part of Bulimba Festival in 2015, and includes 21 different tree patches located within Memorial Park, that people can directly contact. With each tree having its own email address, maps and images are used to help the user locate the tree they want to email.
This project is an experiment is using new media to create and cement connections between people and their environment. Similarly, it is an experiment in using digital means for placemaking. It also draws heavily on my background as a creative writer – each tree is given its own story and fictional character, as well as fragments of true history, based on the fact that many of these trees were planted for WWII soldiers. I am hoping that these stories help the viewer to create a lasting connection to each tree (as well as find a bit of humour in the characters). Being usable either through mobile devices while on-site, or from a home computer, this is a project for locals, visitors to the Bulimba area, and, ultimately, the global population of those interested in such a project and concept.
The next iteration of Treemails planned is Treemails: Scenic Rim. The Scenic Rim is a large shire in Eastern Australia covering 4,256 square kms. This project will include selected trees from public and national parks, and major towns, that will be assigned their own address. Given the size of that area, the website and app will look quite different to that of Treemails: Bulimba, which is currently simplified to one page. The Scenic Rim platform will more likely be an entirely interactive map. This iteration should begin in 2016, dependent on funding.
Ultimately, I’d like to create versions of this project for many areas of the world, particularly areas where the natural environment plays an important factor in the local community and for the native animals of that area, the Scenic Rim being one example of this. So far, responses to this project have been very positive and meaningful.
This project, while quite different in design to other projects of mine, still has some of my signature inclusions or moving visuals, hand-made maps, and sound elements.