The relationship of humans and nature seems to be out of balance. The human, as a being defined by technology, is harming its environment and the very nature on which its existence depends. The focus on advancing technology seems to be contrary to a sustainable, responsible relationship to nature. But what kind of role does the human being occupy in this area of tension between nature and technology? The human being does not see itself as part of nature, but at the same time has the desire to be close to nature and to become part of the natural persistence. In the project Parasitic / Symbiotic this area of tension between nature and technology is addressed.
A scenario is created in which the human being makes use of a technical device, which is sitting like a parasite on a tree. It contains a milling machine, which moves along a tree to carve encoded text into it. For the content of the carving a poem from Romanticism (Abschied by Joseph von Eichendorff) is used, which expresses the natural thoughts of unity and oneness and depicts the relation of nature and culture. The question, whether this act can be considered as natural or artificial and where we as humans are situated, is posed with this action. The project critically discusses this area of tension, as the act of carving into a tree is a paradoxical one on several levels: The forest, in which the act is performed, is actually created artificially for forestry use. But the tree itself still describes nature in its purest form. The human-made technical device interferes with this natural atmosphere. By carving into the tree it even harms nature. This is in contradiction to the content of the poemthe Romantic thought of oneness and the desire of humans for nature. By using this technical device the human can realize parts of this thought. The result is an encoded form of the poem, which clearly refers to digital aesthetics and at the same time becomes part of the living tree.
The project describes a partly parasitic symbiosis between the technical act and the natural tree. This picks up and illustrates the current troubled relationship between humans and nature. The project shows that humans can create something aesthetically valuable and permanent through moderate and thoughtful technical interventions in nature. Even if the procedure is invasive, the damage remains low and it never leads to a fatal disturbance of the natural system; the tree lives on unrestricted and will grow together and merge with the artificial carving and so the artwork becomes one with nature.
Ann-Katrin Krenz (DE) is an interaction designer and media artist, based in Berlin. Her work ranges from rich interactive installations and environments to generative design and visual explorations with pixels, pen, and paper. She finished her master thesis in February 2016 in the "Digitale Klasse" (Visual Communication) under Joachim Sauter and Jussi Ängeslevä at UdK Berlin University of the Arts.
Parasitic Symbiotic was realized with the support of UdK Berlin University of the Arts.