Tent Trailer Tree Theatre (Can’t See the Forest for the Trees).

2017.

     Mixed sprucetrees, found soft top tent trailer, hydroponic system, wood. 12’ x 13’ x 8’6”

We share a complicated societal relationship with forests in Canada. They have been used for recreation, building materials, food, fuel, and material for our cultural productions. They have been privatized, made public, sold, and resold. One thing that is not often considered is the specific agency of the collective entities of forests. They possess an undeniable power to affect the human community, even if one only considers their photosynthetic ability to convert carbon dioxide to cellulose and oxygen. Trees individually have arguably little impact on the overall biological systems they are a part of; not unlike individual humans. However, when considered as a whole, both trees and humans become forces to be reckoned with.

This mobile tree farm is built from an old soft top tent trailer as a direct conceptual link to outdoor recreation and consumption of “wilderness”. The trees occupy the central body of the trailer as well as the rear bump-out section. As these trees grow, they are confronted with projections of forests which have come before them. A collaged video plays in the side bump-out sections of the trailer, composed of a blend of footage including clearcuts, planting efforts, old growth forests, and agroforestry. This videos may be viewed from inside the trailer alongside the seedlings, or in the kitchen shelter attachment which is converted into a theatre for the human audience. These projections are complemented by faint sounds of the hum of the internal irrigation and lighting system. The trailer thus becomes a method of exposing the young trees to their complicated history shared with humans; at once nurturing and destructive, parasitic and constructive.

At the closing of the exhibition, once the seedlings have been exposed to their history and the humans with whom they will be sharing the urban environment, the trees will be ready to be planted locally and the trailer will be ready to host a new generation of trees, and people.