Artist Thijs Biersteker gives trees an urgent voice in the conversation about climate change with his new work ‘Symbiosia’ in collaboration with scientist Stefano Mancuso, opening work of the exhibition Trees that opens on 12 July 2019 at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris.
With the premiere of ‘Symbiosia’ the artist gives two trees in the iconic garden of Fondation Cartier a visual voice about one of the most important topics of today, climate change. In a world that is becoming less and less environmental in sync, the work addresses the relationship of the trees with the visitors, the environment and each other.
The real time data installation is a collaboration between artist Thijs Biersteker and world renowned botanist and scientist Stefano Mancuso and his International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology in Florence. As a pioneer of plant neurobiology he is an advocate of the concept of plant intelligence. Mancuso provided the science behind the artwork.
Biersteker and Mancuso have developed a calculative data driven system that estimates the real time impact that climate change has on the nature of Paris, generating a tree ring every second, instead of every year. The daily traffic jams rising up the co2 levels, and droughts caused by increasing summer temperatures have an instant effect on the work.
Trees document their lives through their annual growth rings hidden behind their bark. The thickness and shape of the rings reveal environmental changes and disease, forest fires, droughts and pollution levels throughout the tree’s life.
Digital roots crawling between the two trees and their branches contain a series of 12 sensors to measure fluctuations in the trees photosynthesis, the air quality and chemical aircompounds, producing the datavisualization in the shape of tree rings. The short and long term impact of climate change can be deciphered in the work, and takes into account the recent discoveries about root communication and the idea of plant memory.
The work is a fluid mixture between art and techno poetic sciences, translated in an accessible and relatable way. By showing the trees sensitivity, their liveliness, and the environmental impact affecting them Thijs Biersteker wants to grow a stronger symbiotic relationship between humanity and nature, as he believes that is the only way forward to co-exist on this planet.
Symbiosia is a key work in the trajectory of the artist’s exploration to bridge the growing gap between humanity and nature;
‘I believe that the symbiotic and communicative relationships in nature, explored in ‘Symbiosia’, are key in preparing humanity to understand the value of a harmonious ecosystem that is needed for a future that is a balance between technology, humanity and nature.’ – Thijs Biersteker