With all eyes on the much anticipated first installment of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s NYC High Line project this winter, it is refreshing to experience their work as ‘moving’ art with Arbores Laetae (Joyful Trees) at this year’s Liverpool Biennial. This architectural trio is well known for their interdisciplinary practice – melding architecture, urban design, visual art, site-specific installation, and electronic new media in ways that playfully investigate performance and landscape interpretation. For the 2008 MADE UP Liverpool Biennial, S D + R created an arboretum on a former brownfield site. The installation included rotating trees that engage viewers in a totally eerie spin on human nature, emotions, and choreographed interaction.
Joyful Trees re-examines the traditional idea of public park space by choosing to animate, in a mechanized way, those landscape elements that we expect to be stable and on ‘terra firma’. Seventeen hornbeam trees (‘joyful trees’) were formally planted in a grid pattern with three trees rotating at the heart of the grove. Shadow, light, and pattern are in turn, the artificial byproducts of this axial disorientation. SD + R architected the three mechanized trees to be planted at a 10-degree bias in planter box turntables. The three turntables rotate at different speeds allowing the trees to occasionally brush up against one another while also disorienting the viewer.
A new spin on an arboretum’s function, Joyful Trees animates the natural world in a way that puts nature on par with spectator. Liberating and eerie, the dance of light, shadows, and perspective conceptually plays with the viewer’s own spatial orientation and sense of permanence and grounding.
via Arts & Ecology