We plan to place audiences in the centre of a multi-sensory experience that is controlled by the life force of remote and close by trees. Through this project we aim to forge deep connections between people and a natural environment, promoting care and compassion for our natural world and raising awareness around climate change.

We will investigate how we can track and monitor the natural changes that occur in a local urban forest and use this data to control an “all-encompassing” exhibition environment in order to provide people with a close and moving connection to the life force of forests. We will then run workshops allowing young poeple and their carers to help place sensors in and around trees  in Birrawong Ma so that we can also get data from close by trees.

There is an urgency amongst scientific communities around the need for humans to change their relationship with nature (IPPC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2018). As we begin to struggle with the direct effects of climate change, never before has it been so important that we take action and re-evaluate our relationship with our natural environment. Through this project we will offer an alternative to human-controlled installation environments; we will explore and experiment with alternate ways to create forest-controlled urban environments.

We have confirmed support from the Exertion Games Lab at RMIT University. We will have access to a range of lab equipment including bio and tracking sensors. We will use this equipment to test ways of monitoring the moisture, gases, movements and sounds etc of trees. We will design a unique digital system, consisting of hardware and custom programmed software. This system will be able to record data and it will also be able to receive real-time data feeds. We will experiment with ways of translating this data into sensory stimuli. This may involve using the forest data to generate abstract projection mapped visuals, audio, haptic feedback, aromatic and gustatory stimuli. For example, an audience member may wear a vibrating vest, the vest may vibrate as a result of specific wind and sound readings from the forest. This experience may provide audiences with an immersive, physical connection to trees. Audiences could potentially wear these vests as they walk around an all-encompassing projection-mapped exhibition space where the visuals and audio are generated from data from the forest. The exhibition space may involve forest-generated  aromas. Our aim is to explore ways of providing people with a new, full body sensory experience of forest life.

PluginHUMAN have a longstanding relationship with the committee managing the development of the Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve (EPNR). In 2018, after years of lobbying, local government approved the transformation of a golf course into an urban forest and wetland. This site will be the largest urban forest in the Melbourne area. Justin and Betty played a key role in lobbying government, they have worked closely with the EPNR working committee in establishing this unique natural urban environment. This nature reserve is very close to where we live. We now plan to work alongside the EPNR environmental scientists and use their art-technology expertise to raise awareness of the importance of this natural environment, to provide wider access to and experiences of the site and contribute to knowledge around new ways of creating nature-controlled environments.