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Make A Forest Part I

Nearing its end, Make A Forest aimed at heightening local awareness of global deforestation.  This week we look at a project by Mkgk and Raw Colour in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

By Gabrielle Kennedy /asdf 26-01-2012

Deforestation is devastating the environment.  Government policy, commercial interests, and conflicting scientific data lead to a never-ending back and forth of debate, but no real solutions.  

Make A Forest – an initiative of Anne van der Zwaag and Joanna van der Zanden - was not yet another attempt to communicate a solution, but rather, a way to use art and design to question whether one artificial tree could make a difference locally.

Throughout 2011, creatives from Seoul to San Francisco and Amsterdam came up with ways to both create and present these man-made trees for the purpose of generating discussion and raising awareness.  

Trees have always been an enduring inspiration for artists and designers and how people relate to nature is still one of the most basic motivations to design.

Mkgk (Maarten Kolk and Guus Kusters) and Raw Color (Daniera ter Haar and Christoph Brach) in collaboration with MU opted to bring attention to the desolate environment of the old Philips compound in Eindhoven where both studios are located.  The Klokgebouw is a former factory building that has been overtaken by Dutch creatives.  “But is empty and looks really unattractive,” says Maarten Kolk.

Together with Raw Color, Mkgk came up with “Temporary Trees”, a series of sketches of trees made from everyday items.  These were photographed and during the last Dutch Design Week exhibited as light box installations along the barren paths of Strijp S.

“We wanted to create an aesthetic and contextual contrast to the rest of the area,” says Kolk.  “The old factory buildings look so drab and yet people know that behind the walls really creative and interesting things are happening.  A passer-by has no clue what though.”

To bridge that gap the team chose to exhibit outside – offering a glimpse of the colour and creativity that lives within the old factory walls.

“This way of presenting was also connected to how Dutch trees are treated,” Kolk says.  “A tree can live for hundreds of years, but in Holland that is often cut short to just fifteen because a building needs to be erected or a path needs to laid.  Tree doctors are even called in to move trees a few feet over, which is ridiculous because that is not the way a tree is supposed to survive.”

The results of this project are a series of artificial trees that capture the reality of how many urban people connect to nature.  Trees are not always only physical, but can alter our perception of light, shade, wind and the change of the seasons.  They are illusions but ones that dramatically affect a person’s psychology.

“Temporary Trees” will be exhibited again next month during Object Rotterdam.



Next week we will look at Frank Bruggeman’s “Confession Tree”.
 

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