Technobiophilia? 3D scanning trees fungi artists designers – destination libraries

Photos by Chris Morris

Technology & nature are upmost in my mind this week. Following on from yesterdays blog about Barthes and photography, today is a reflection upon what happened in the woods yesterday. Some days my work can be very surreal – watching an artist and a designer scanning in a woodland was one of those days. A day of Technobiophilia in action – in reality, not cyberspace.

Finding a suitable way to scan a tree for Simon Ryder @artnucleus was never going to be simple. Tomas Millar, designer-maker from Millar Howard Workshop, worked with Simon, exploring how to capture the data to use in the process of making a cabinet for the Flow Cabinet of Local Change project. While watching images emerging on the computer screen there were moments of sheer fascination – the human next to me being instantly transformed on-screen to an avatar equivalent, then the trees, then the fungi. It was like being in 2nd Life for real!

Thinking about connectivity – these photos represent a merging of the real and the virtual, the organic and the machine. The ‘image’ is ephemeral, little more than data, but that data will be re-presented as a cabinet. A solid object in space.

Many years ago, when I did my MA in Fine Art, I became intrigued by these matters. At the time, my studio was burgled and my computer, camera and backup drive stolen. I wrote about it, calling it a ‘virtual lobotomy’ – my memory had been wiped. I’ll dig it out and put it on my blog, it was an interesting process of thinking through what had actually been taken. In truth, very little. And my memory was not stolen either – I still have it (for now). There is a slight irony too that having written about it and placed the words in a document that, at present, I am not quite sure where it is in my data backups………

All of these things speak of the past, the now and the future. I love the way one’s mind flips between those temporal modes, we are so much more than data – and we experience wonder and fascination, as I mentioned in an earlier blog that referenced a great article by Jesse Prinze in Aeon.

So this week has linked up many things in my brain – I enjoy it when that happens, when we begin to glimpse some coherence in the world. Next week I get to visit Google HQ – very exciting and lucky to do that!

scanning woods cb

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